Robert K. Johnston asserts that “movies can offer insight to the viewer about the nature of the human,”1 and Craig Detweiler attests that “the mysteries of life and faith are being communicated through filmmakers.”2 It is with this mindset that I ventured to the Sundance Film Festival with a group of kindred spirits from Dallas Theological Seminary. With heart, mind, hands, eyes, and ears wide open, I entered the festival ready to receive the insights the films had to offer.
Johnston posits that God uses nonbelievers to communicate to believers3 and warns that “Christian moviegoers should first view a movie on its own terms before entering into theological dialogue with it.”4 Indeed, it is good to observe, and, as the book of James affirms, be slow to react, slow to speak, quick to listen. I partook of fourteen films during my week at the festival. As I listened and pondered, I realized that fourteen films made by fourteen different groups of people from around the world remarkably possessed a common set of themes (which in itself is a commentary on our shared humanity). Most notably, almost every film I saw at Sundance spoke to the yearning in all humans for friendship, love, and relationship. With awards season upon us, it is a good time to explore this theme of longing and loneliness via an observation of what five Sundance films had to say. I will then move into an examination of how does what these films are saying lead and fit into a larger theological conversation. What is this human yearning these films are crying out about? What are these films revealing to us about God, humanity, life, and faith?
(Warning: Plot spoilers ahead!)
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