By Anthony Barich
THE Christian Faith will make a concerted push into secular movie cinemas this month when Hoyts hosts the nationwide Faith on Film festival from July 24-27.
In an Australian first, nine films provided by Sunshine Coast-based Christian movie distribution company Heritage HM (history makers) will screen in Perth, Sydney, Blacktown, Eastland Victoria, Canberra and Adelaide.
Hoyts at Westfield Carousel in Cannington will host five of the films in Perth.
Heritage HG founding managing director Rod Hopping said the goal of his company and the festival is to distribute films that “inspire life and a journey of faith in people”.
He said the film industry is more open to Christianity since Mel Gibson’s 2004 epic The Passion of the Christ, which “encouraged Christian producers” and raised the bar on Christian-themed movies so they are taken more seriously.
“Christian media had been around for a while, but it was almost embarrassing – content was cheesy and production quality was poor,” said Mr Hopping, a Baptist.
The Faith on Film Festival, that includes six Australian features, has been timed to capture the expected increased interest in the Faith from World Youth Day in Sydney July 15-20.
Festival director and Hoyts representative Fiona Pulford said it was an exciting time as the “faith communities of the world are focused on Australia”.
Hoyts sees the relevance of faith in secular society, with a “Faith and Worship Films” section on its msn website.
One Festival on Film movie, Lord Save Us From Your Followers, is also the theme of a popular car sticker in Australia that is offensive to some Christians.
But the feature itself is more an at-times humorous examination of Christianity in the US, says Mr Hopping.
“With people who say gays will burn in hell and that 9/11 was retribution from God, where’s the Gospel of Love in the midst of that?” he said.
“(U2 lead singer and social activist) Bono sums it up during the documentary when he said the churches can often be perceived as a big mouth without arms and legs, but it needs to be arms and legs.
“It challenges me personally and reminds me that we shouldn’t get judgemental.”
The Festival also includes an award-winning South African drama, a ‘travel the world’ surfing documentary, children’s feature The Ten Commandments and the Australian premier of Roland Emmerich’s hard-hitting drama on human trafficking, Trade.
“Each of the films we’ve selected is powerful and will inspire audiences to go and change their world,” Mr Hopping said.
The Festival also introduces two Australian premiers: Hillsong United’s The I Heart Revolution, and from Sydney production company Karbon comes The Disposable Ones featuring Australian footballer Jason Stevens.
Mr Stevens, featured previously in discovery, is a former rugby league international who was part of a World Cup-winning Australian Kangaroos team and NSW State of Origin hero who has become a vocal exponent of saving sex until marriage.
Faith on Film Festival in Perth
Faith Like Potatoes
July 24 1.45pm, July 25 6.30pm, July 27 10.45pm.
The Disposable Ones
July 24 6.30pm, July 26 8.45pm, July 27 6.45pm.
The I Heart Revolution
July 23 7pm, July 24 8.45pm, July 27 4.15pm.
Lord Save Us From Your Followers
July 25 4pm, July 26 1.15pm, July 27 9pm.
July 25 9.10pm, July 26 4pm, July 27 1.30pm.
For other times around the nation go to: http://hoyts.ninemsn.com.au/corporate/faithsessions.asp