Tag: film

Afflicting the Comfortable . . . at Windrider

“We’re called as Christians to give ourselves away, and that’s what we’ve got to work out.” These profound words from veteran movie producer Ralph Winter challenged students and filmmakers participating in a Windrider Forum discussion at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. The panel was exploring the idea of “afflicting the comfortable” through thoughtfully crafted documentary films that may stimulate social action.

Winter, a Hollywood producer whose credits include blockbuster movies like X-Men and Star Trek, was asking, “How do we break out of [our natural tendency to want comfort] and discipline ourselves?” His insightful answer . . . “We’re called as Christians to give ourselves away.”

Craig Detweiler, professor of communications and director of the Center for Entertainment, Media and Culture at Pepperdine University, expressed his perspective this way: “Hollywood films comfort the afflicted—always happy, always a clean resolution, for the most part.

“Independent films afflict the comfortable. You come out feeling worse than when you entered. We don’t usually go to films for that. We don’t want to pay money to feel worse. But these are filmmakers with a prophetic gift who say, ‘This is what’s wrong with the world.’”

Detweiler says he comes to Sundance to cultivate empathy. “I come back here because I need to have my heart broken annually so I can go back to my comfort and work and minister out of that.

“That’s what the Windrider* experience is.”

*Mastermedia International is a sponsor of the Windrider Forum.

On-Screen Inspiration

In the second film of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, “The Two Towers,” after Frodo and Samwise Gamgee had been taken prisoner, sent to the ruined city of Osgiliath, then narrowly escaped being captured by Saurons minions, Frodo begins to lose hope. He is ready to give up, thinking he can never finish the quest of destroying the One Ring in Mordor.

Sam encourages his dear friend in this scene from the movie . . .

Frodo: I can’t do this Sam.

Samwise Gamgee: I know. It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened?

But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you . . . that meant something, even if you were too small to understand why.  

But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going. Because they were holding onto something.

Frodo: What are we holding onto Sam?

Sam: That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo . . . and it’s worth fighting for.

In the book of 1 Samuel, David is on the run, overcome with fear, knowing that King Saul is out to kill him. Jonathan goes to speak words of encouragement to his friend . . .

“David saw that Saul had come out to seek his life. David was in the wilderness of Ziph at Horesh. And Jonathan, Saul’s son, rose and went to David at Horesh, and encouraged him in God. And he said to him, ‘Do not fear, for the hand of Saul my father shall not find you. You shall be king over Israel, and I shall be next to you.’” (1 Sam. 23:15-17)

It’s the true friend who encourages us in the midst of the most difficult part of life’s journey. “Therefore encourage one another with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4:18)

What’s your most inspiring film scene? Why? Let us know at feedback@mastermediaintl.org

“Going Hollywood” . . . by Buying It

On a recent trip to China, Mastermedia CEO Dan Rupple observed that American films are creating a whole new generation of Chinese filmmakers who aspire to “make it” in Hollywood. Dan says, “If I wasn’t sure before, I am convinced now that America’s most influential export is American films.”

Wang Jianlin, China’s wealthiest executive, recognizes the scope of Hollywood’s power and influence and is aggressively expanding into the U.S. film industry through his media conglomerate, Dalian Wanda Group. According to The Washington Times (August 31, 2016), his desire is . . . “to acquire one of the six major Hollywood studios” and he has vowed “to change the world where rules are set by foreigners.”

With more Chinese movie theaters than any other company, Wanda is now focusing on global expansion. The Times noted, “In 2012, [Wanda] bought AMC Theatres, which recently announced a deal to acquire Britain’s Odeon & UCI Cinemas Group and is trying to scoop up Georgia-based Carmike Cinemas.” And in November 2016, Wanda purchased Dick Clark Productions.

Wang’s ambitious plans are unnerving to some lawmakers. Increasing control and power over the content and distribution of American movies by any company—particularly one closely aligned with the Chinese government—has the potential to shift the balance of power in global entertainment and eclipse America as the world’s largest movie market.

The Times states, “Owning a large portion of the world’s theater business gives Wanda a massive influence over the global film industry and could give it leverage in negotiations with studios over sharing box office revenue. The company has said it wants to control 20% of global box office ticket sales by 2020.”

Despite concerns about China’s growing power in the entertainment industry, The Times found that filmmakers they interviewed were skeptical about China using movies for propaganda—especially if it gets in the way of making money.

“If they do that, people will stop watching the movies,” said John Davis, a film and TV producer for Fox and Sony. “Chinese companies are all driven by the profit motive.”