1140 Cowper St. Sundays at 8:30am and 10:30am

Faith Issues in Film Group

Our group meets at 7:15 p.m. on the 3rd Tuesday eight months a year. Before each meeting, people view the film (possibly getting a copy from Netflix, the library, or watching with other film group members), and then we meet at a member’s home to discuss the film; it’s very much like a book club in those aspects. Our meeting includes an introductory worship portion and a time for sharing and prayers. Please feel free to join us, if you’ve been able to watch the film and want to see what the discussion is like. For more information, please contact Ellen Forbes, Jeff Grinnell, or Shirley Eglington. The church office can provide you with their contact information.

NOTE: For reviews of films we’ve watched in previous seasons, click here.

2017-2018 Faith Issues in Film meetings:

Sep 19 – I Am Not Your Negro
Oct  17 – Lion
Nov 14 (not the 21st) – A Separation
Jan 16 – Difret
Feb 20 – Frantz
Mar 20 – Silence
Apr 17 – Arrival
May 15 – Oranges and Sunshine


Arrival (2016, directed by Denis Villenueve, “ political science fiction” )

Aliens have landed on Earth in 12 different locations. Language professor Louise Banks joins a US army team at one of the locations, in Montana. Her job is to try to learn the aliens’ language and enable communication with them. Through regular meetings with two of the aliens she starts to compile a record of their “language”—a series of drawn symbols. The important question is: are they friend or foe? Other nations with alien landings are starting to view them as a threat, making it a race against time as war with the aliens could erupt at any moment. Faith issues include complex relationships, mortality, peace through language, and multiple ethical questions.

Difret (2016, directed by Zeresenay Berhane Mehari, executive produced by Angelina Jolie)

The Sundance Film Festival award-winning drama Difret is based on the inspirational true story of a young Ethiopian girl and a tenacious lawyer embroiled in a life-or-death clash between cultural traditions and their country’s advancement of equal rights. When 14-year-old Hirut is abducted in her rural village’s tradition of kidnapping women for marriage, she fights back, accidentally killing her captor and intended husband. Local law demands a death sentence for Hirut, but Meaza, a tough and passionate lawyer from a women’s legal aide practice, steps in to fight for her. With both Hirut’s life and the future of the practice at stake, the two women must make their case for self-defense against one of Ethiopia’s oldest and most deeply-rooted traditions. Difret paints a portrait of a country in a time of great transformation and the brave individuals ready to help shape it. Former Secretary of State John Kerry has said of the film: This is a story of compassion and conviction that ought to inspire everybody.


I Am Not Your Negro (2017, directed by Raoul Peck)

This film offers an incendiary snapshot of James Baldwin’s crucial observations on American race relations — and a sobering reminder of how far we’ve yet to go. The movie is based on Baldwin ‘s unfinished manuscript, “Remember This House”. Narrated by actor Samuel L. Jackson, the film explores the history of racism in the United States through Baldwin’s reminiscences of civil rights leaders Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr, as well as his personal observations of American history.  It was nominated for  Best Documentary Feature at the 89th Academy Awards. With fascinating filmed interviews with not only James Baldwin, but also with the prominent leaders of the struggle for civil rights in America. There is not a dull moment in the entire documentary!


Frantz  (2017, directed by  Francois Ozon)

Set in Germany and France in the immediate aftermath of the First World War, Frantz recalls the mourning period that follows great national tragedies as seen through the eyes of the war’s “lost generation”: Anna, a bereft young German woman whose fiancé, Frantz, was killed during trench warfare, and Adrien, a French veteran of the war who shows up mysteriously in her town, placing flowers on Frantz’s grave. Adrien’s presence is met with resistance by the small community still reeling from Germany’s defeat, yet Anna gradually gets closer to the handsome and melancholy young man, as she learns of his deep friendship with Frantz, conjured up in evocative flashbacks. What follows is a surprising exploration of how the characters wrestle with their conflicting feelings: survivor’s guilt, anger at one’s losses, the overriding desire for happiness despite everything that has come before, and the longing for romantic and familial attachments. The film looks at the nature of forgiveness and at truth and lies and the necessity for both in a grieving world that makes no sense. Filmed in black and white with some scenes in color. In French and German with English subtitles.



Lion (2016, directed by Garth Davis, stars Dev PatelNicole Kidman,  Rooney Mara )

This film is based on a true story as portrayed in the book, A Long Way Home, by Saroo Brierle.   A five-year old Indian boy (Saroo) gets lost on the streets of Calcutta, hundreds of miles from home.  He survives many challenges before being adopted by a couple in Australia. Twenty-five years later, he sets out to find his lost family. The film ends with captions and photos of the real Saroo’s return to India in February 2012 and of his real Australian family. The film addresses questions such as: What makes a home?  Is it the place you grew up or where you were first birthed?  Is it the family you create or the one you’re born into?  How flexible is the idea of home? The film also portrays the plight of missing children. In India alone, over 80,000 children go missing each year, and there are over 11 million children living on the streets. Note: The film is called Lion because Saroo learned that he had been mispronouncing his own name, which was actually a diminutive of the Hindi word for “lion”.

Here’s another nomination for the same film:

Lion is based on a true story about Saroo, a five-year-old child in India of a poor but happy rural family who gets separated from his brother at a station near his home and falls asleep on a decommissioned passenger train.  It ends up in Calcutta, 1500 miles away from his home. He is all alone in an alien urban environment, does not know the local language, and struggles to survive as a street child until he is sent to an orphanage. Soon Saroo is adopted by the Brierley family in Tasmania, where he grows up in a loving, prosperous home. Despite his material good fortune, Saroo is plagued by memories of his lost family. As a young man he experiences great anguish as he tries to find where he came from without upsetting his adoptive parents.  Thanks to Google World he eventually identifies his birth village and returns to find his birth mother.  He experiences unconditional love from both worlds.

Oranges and Sunshine (2010, directed by Jim Loach, stars Emily Watson, two-time Academy Award nominee for Breaking the Waves and Hilary and Jackie )

This film tells the story of Margaret Humphreys (Watson), a social worker from Nottingham who uncovered one of the most significant social scandals of recent times: the deportation of thousands of children from the United Kingdom to Australia. Children as young as four had been told that their parents were dead and been sent to children’s homes on the other side of the world. Many were subjected to appalling abuse. They were promised oranges and sunshine; they got hard labor and life in institutions. Almost single-handedly, against overwhelming odds and with little regard for her own well-being, Margaret reunited thousands of families, brought authorities to account and drew worldwide attention to an extraordinary miscarriage of justice. Roger Ebert: “Emily Watson, a delicate English rose, has never seemed more sturdy than here” The New York Times: “A film of abundant emotion” Leonard Maltin’s Picks: “An impressive film that documents an astonishing but little-known story”.


A Separation (2011, directed by Asghar Farhadi) A Separation won a 2012 Oscar for Best Foreign Film, and his 2016 film The Salesman won the same award in 2017.

This film covers delicate relationships between members of any family.  It should appeal to any adult who has ever a) been married; b) been a parent; c) cared for an elderly person; d) had a serious difference of opinion with a mate; e) tried to be a good person and do the right thing but was thwarted by circumstances and dilemmas; and f) tried to keep the peace at home by telling a white lie that eventually had unintended consequences.  We get involved with disputes with one family who is well educated and upper-class and the other family who is debt-ridden and working class.  A moral dilemma confronts the two families and the viewer must decide what is truth.




Silence  (2016, directed by Martin Scorsese)

Based on Shusaku Edo’s 1966 historical novel, the film opens in 1635 as two Jesuit priests, Sebastian Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield) and Francesco Garrpe (Adam Driver), request permission from their superior to go to Japan to discover the fate of their mentor, Father Cistavio Ferreira (Liam Neeson), rumored to have renounced his faith and to be living with a Japanese wife.
The missionaries know about the persecution and murder of thousands of peasants and priests who have converted to Christianity, yet they are anxious to undertake their dangerous mission to support the local Christians and to find out the truth about Father Ferreira. When they arrive in Japan they are greeted by a group of “hidden Christians” known as “kakure kirishitan” who have been compelled to publicly renounce their faith and go into hiding to practice their faith in secret. Initially, the two priests hear confessions and give baptisms and say mass in the middle of the night to avoid detection, but the authorities come to investigate and arrest some Christians, subjecting them to painful deaths.

Rodrigues and Garrpe split up and the rest of the movie focuses on Rodriques inner turmoil as he is on the run, captured and told to recant. He sees himself as the personification of Jesus and must choose between rigidly maintaining his religious beliefs or saving the lives of innocent villagers by placing his foot on a carved Christian icon to renounce his faith.

It’s a personal/religious epic, that is all about the interior self.  It explores what it means if you have faith, or how to question others who do, and what happens when people clash based on beliefs. It shows the struggle of a man to reconcile his God and his responsibility to others in a repressive regime.