Film buffs gathered during dual days of religious movies and discussions.
Reel Religion 11 – A Festival of Films of Religious Significance recently brought 18 movies under critical analysis. This year’s films included classics like “Steel Magnolias,” the documentary “Waiting for Superman,” and cinematic wonders such as “Life of Pi."
The two-day festival, held last weekend, marked the event’s 11th anniversary.
University Christian Church and Broadway Baptist Church began the festival. And three years later, the office of TCU Extended Education became involved.
This is how the festival works:
Six films roll Friday night, a different set of six films roll Saturday morning, and an additional six are shown Saturday afternoon for a total of 18 showings. Participants are encouraged to attend a movie per time slot.
After the shows, viewers become film critics for a night through facilitator-led discussions.
The films and their facilitators encourage conversation beyond the convictions of the host organizations inviting a wide range of perspectives.
Karen Parker, a former member of UCC’s Church and the Arts committee, ran the festival for the better half of the last decade before stepping down after last year’s festival. Parker said she was inspired by her son’s love of cinema and her desire to get involved at church.
“The first eight or nine years we tried to do some thematic kinds of things, and then we broke off from that because we became too tied into a theme,” she said. “We just wanted to have 18 great films.”
Parker said the festival is an extensive process that begins almost immediately after the last festival ends.
Rev. Suzanne Castle, an Associate Minister at UCC, ran this year’s event.
“Sometimes we filter through 400 films in the selection process,” she said. “You name it, we look at it.”
Fifteen people then vote for the final 18 selections.
“We’ve been pretty edgy,” Castle said. “I continually push the envelope on what line is too far to cross, and I think that will continue to get pushed as Hollywood continues to push the blurred line of ‘what is faith’ and ‘how do we engage in faith.’"
TCU Political Science major Adam Grech Jr. attended the “The Life of Pi” showing.
“I was interested to see what people thought about it, because everyone has a different perspective of what the meaning is,” says Grech. “I’m not the most religious person in the world, but I think it’s nice to go and experience that.”