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, a part of the 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, former 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 that 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.”
Dan Rupple, CEO of Mastermedia International, has partnered with the Windrider Forum at Sundance for 13 years, and Mastermedia is now a sponsor at Windrider.
When asked why it is important for Mastermedia to have a presence at Sundance and Windrider, Dan explained . . .
Robert Redford started the Sundance Film Festival to be a showcase for independent films that would never have the chance to be shown in theaters. Now 46,000 people come from all over the world. Hollywood executives come from all the major film studios looking for their next hit, and it’s a great opportunity for Mastermedia to connect with them.
Sundance is the launch pad for the talent of tomorrow . . . creatives, directors, writers, actors. For Mastermedia, it’s an opportunity to build a relationship and make a connection with someone very early in their career. It’s a chance to start a dialog, a conversation. The Sundance winner of today is the Oscar winner of tomorrow.
Our missional focus at Sundance is making connections that I can then go home and follow up with. This is often the beginning of trust relationships with these key contacts.
Paul, in the book of Acts, entered the marketplace in Athens and entered into the conversations they were having day after day about current ideologies . . . and that’s what we do at Sundance.