Newsbites special: Da Vinci! Muslims! etc.!

Pardon the change in format, but I’ve been stockpiling some of these newsbites for a week or two now, and I want to flush ‘em out!

1. Stories about The Da Vinci Code:

  1. Opus Dei Asks for ‘Da Vinci’ Disclaimer
    The conservative religious group Opus Dei has asked for a disclaimer on the upcoming film based on the best-selling novel “The Da Vinci Code.”
    Opus Dei, portrayed as a murderous, power-hungry sect in the novel by Dan Brown, wrote in an April 6 letter to Sony Corp. that a disclaimer would show respect to Jesus and to the Catholic Church.
    Associated Press, April 15

  2. Opus Dei asks “Da Vinci” film makers for respect
    Spokesman Jim Kennedy noted Sony Pictures always viewed the movie as a “a work of fiction … a thriller, not a religious tract. We believe the filmmakers are going to deliver an exciting movie that will delight audiences, not offend them.”
    Kennedy also noted that Sony Pictures is supporting a Web site, thedavincidialogue.com, where interested people can read expert opinions about issues raised by the book and movie.
    Reuters, April 17
  3. Report: ‘Da Vinci’ Boycott Urged
    A Vatican official reportedly called for a boycott of the upcoming “The Da Vinci Code” film Friday, saying it contained “slanderous” offenses against Christianity that would have provoked a worldwide revolt had they been directed against Islam or the Holocaust.
    Associated Press, April 28
  4. With Movie Due, ‘Da Vinci’ Debate Persists
    The problem is that “Da Vinci” is billed as more than mere fiction.
    Brown’s opening page begins with the word “FACT” and asserts that all descriptions of documents “are accurate.”
    Associated Press, April 29

2. Stories about Muslims and film:

  1. Muslim film festival in NY is shouting to be heard
    More than 30 movies from the Arab and Muslim world will be playing at a week-long New York film festival, but will anybody be watching?
    The Alwan Film Festival, created by a nonprofit group in lower Manhattan, features several well-known Middle Eastern directors. The films tackle timely subjects like the war in Iraq, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Afghanistan.
    Reuters, April 15

  2. Saudi Movie Buffs Bemoan Lack of Theaters
    More Saudis like Eyaf are speaking out about the issue, hoping their voices will one day bring movie theaters back to the country. Several Saudi newspapers now have a weekly movie page that highlights the cultural values of movies. An official Saudi TV station hosted a program on the subject. Cartoon movies were shown at a summer festival in the southwestern province of Asir and during a feast in Riyadh. And a few Saudi movies with no chance of officially being shown in the kingdom are taking part in film festivals worldwide.
    Associated Press, April 27

3. Stories about science-fiction and fantasy films:

  1. It Won’t Be Kirk And Spock
    But the million dollar question is, what will it be about? Unsurprisingly, Abrams isn’t saying (“We’ve made a pact not to discuss any specifics”) but the Lost creator is a confirmed Original Series fan so don’t be surprised if his take on the series does indeed take place around the era of Kirk and co, or if some of the established characters do make a reappearance. “Those characters are so spectacular. I just think that… you know, they could live again.”
    Empire, April 26

  2. George Takei: The TV Squad Interview
    George and I talked about the speaking tour, Howard, his guest turn on Will & Grace, and his appearance as Sulu on a web-only Star Trek series. Oh, and I couldn’t leave without asking him about Bill Shatner at least once.
    TV Squad, April 26
  3. ‘Earth’ to Fraser for Jules Verne redo
    Brendan Fraser has boarded “Journey to the Center of the Earth,” a contemporary, 3-D update of the Jules Verne classic.
    The story revolves around a scientist who is stuck with his nephew as they embark on a trip to Iceland to check on a volcanic sensor. During a storm, they get trapped in a cave and the only way out is through the center of Earth.
    Shooting starts June 10 in Montreal. Eric Brevig directs. New Line will distribute the project for “Narnia” producer Walden Media.
    Reuters, April 21
  4. Latest Hollywood script deals
    20th Century Fox has paid a low-six figure advance for Mark Legan and Mark Wilding’s pitch “Family Time,” a family time-travel adventure similar in tone to “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.”
    Reuters, April 27
  5. Latest Hollywood script deals
    Yuri Zeltser and Cary Bickley . . . are writing “The Tattooed Map,” a mystery based on Barbara Hodgson’s novel, for the Jim Henson Co.
    Reuters, April 19
  6. Latest Hollywood script deals
    Universal Pictures has pre-emptively acquired Lucas Sussman’s pitch “The Hunt,” paying a mid-six-figure advance against a high-six-figure payout if the film is produced.
    The supernatural adventure centers on the world’s greatest hunter, who sets out to capture the ultimate beast: the devil himself.
    It will be produced by “Requiem for a Dream” director Darren Aronofsky and business partner Eric Watson through their Universal-based Protozoa Pictures shingle.
    Reuters, April 17

4. Stories about religious themes in film:

  1. LDS film prompts warning by theater
    Mauss walked up to the ticket counter and asked for two tickets.
    “Are you Christian?” the girl at the ticket counter asked.
    Mauss was surprised but responded in the affirmative. It was her next statement that surprised him.
    “She responded, ‘Well you need to know that this film, it’s being advertised as a Christian film, but it’s really a Mormon film.’”
    From further questions, Mauss learned that the theater’s supervisors had told their employees to “warn” ticket buyers about the film. They had complaints from people upset because the movie wasn’t what they expected.
    “I asked (movie theater employees) if it was a Catholic film, would you say, this isn’t a Christian film, it’s a Catholic film?” Mauss said.
    Daily Herald, April 27

  2. Author Jakes lands inspiring deal with Sony
    Bishop T.D. Jakes, the self-help author behind the religious-themed drama “Woman Thou Art Loosed,” has signed a production and distribution deal with Sony Pictures Entertainment.
    The three-year pact covers theatrical releases and DVD exclusives generated by his production company, TDJ Enterprises. The first film will be “Not Easily Broken,” based on an upcoming novel by Jakes. Shooting is scheduled to begin later this year.
    Reuters, April 18
  3. Gospel comedy “Preaching” to limited audience
    Call this one “Brother Act.” Instead of Whoopi Goldberg’s Reno lounge singer in “Sister Act” hiding out from mobsters in a convent, where she transforms the choir into swinging hipsters, “Preaching to the Choir” has a hip-hop star hiding out from a gangsta record producer in his estranged brother-minister’s Harlem church, where he transforms the choir into a gospel-belting group.
    Hollywood Reporter, April 16

5. Miscellaneous stories of interest:

  1. Pacino’s in play with ‘Salomaybe’
    Al Pacino’s love for theater and film will intersect again with “Salomaybe?” — a feature film in the vein of his 1996 docu “Looking for Richard.”
    Pic will interweave behind-the-scenes footage from a current Los Angeles staging of Oscar Wilde’s “Salome” with fictional elements.
    Pacino directs and also will be on camera in the pic. He plays King Herod in the biblically inspired tragi-comedy about lust and betrayal, which bowed last week at L.A.’s Wadsworth Theater. Production previously played Broadway.
    Variety, April 17

  2. A volcano, an olive branch and Exodus
    The Exodus Decoded, a film by Simcha Jacobovici of Toronto and James Cameron, as in The Titanic, formerly of Niagara Falls, Ont., argues that the plagues and other Biblical calamities visited upon Egypt, after Pharaoh refused Moses’s demand to “let my people go,” were effects of the Santorini cataclysm. Their case is mostly plausible.
    National Post, April 29
  3. Rwanda survivors say Hollywood has got it wrong
    Three films in two years about Rwanda’s genocide have shocked Western audiences with the scale and savagery of the slaughter, but many survivors in the tiny central African nation are unimpressed. . . .
    “‘Sometimes in April’ is characterized by very serious inaccuracies and omissions which made most survivors say, ‘It is not our story’,” said Francois Ngarambe, president of a Rwandan genocide survivors’ association. . . .
    Ngarambe said the film wrongly portrayed the genocide as largely the work of militia, neglecting the careful planning by the Hutu extremists in the government and the military.
    The latest screen take on the genocide, and the only to be filmed on location, Michael Caton-Jones’s “Shooting Dogs,” had its world premiere at a stadium in Kigali last month. . . .
    It has also been criticized by some survivors, particularly for one scene where a white Roman Catholic priest decides to stay with the refugees, rather than be evacuated along with his expatriate colleagues.
    Many senior church leaders were complicit in some of Rwanda’s killings and the depiction angered many who already blame the United Nations and Western powers for failing to intervene.
    “There was never a situation, not at that school or anywhere, where a white person refused to be evacuated. That is a pure lie,” said Wilson Gabo, a coordinator of Rwanda’s Survivors Fund charity. . . .
    Amid international inaction, the genocide was finally ended by Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame, who led a rebel army from Uganda to seize power. He has recently joined the film debate, sharply criticizing the Oscar-nominated “Hotel Rwanda.”
    Released last year, Terry George’s movie stars Don Cheadle as Paul Rusesabagina, the Hutu manager of a Kigali hotel where more than 1,200 people survived the killings taking place outside.
    Kagame, a Tutsi, said the South African-filmed portrayal of Rusesabagina was a “falsehood,” and he would not have picked him as a symbol of heroism in those tragic times.
    “Some of the things actually attributed to this person are not true,” Kagame told reporters last week. “Even those that are true do not merit the level of highlight.”
    Reuters, April 19

About Peter T. Chattaway

Peter T. Chattaway was the regular film critic for BC Christian News from 1992 to 2011. In addition to his film column, which won multiple awards from the Evangelical Press Association, the Canadian Church Press and the Fellowship of Christian Newspapers, his news and opinion pieces have appeared in such publications as Books & Culture, Christianity Today, Bible Review and the Vancouver Sun. He also contributed essays to the books Re-Viewing The Passion: Mel Gibson’s Film and Its Critics (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004) and Scandalizing Jesus?: Kazantzakis’s The Last Temptation of Christ Fifty Years on (Continuum, 2005).

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14041934019001433623 Robert Johnson at HolidayKeys

    The Da Vinci Code, good or bad? An opinion from the travel industry

    We are just days from the official release of the film the Da Vinci Code, yet even before it has hit cinemas in Europe the upcoming release has caused concern in Christian circles. Dan Brown’s novel, which has sold more than 40 million copies worldwide, tells a story of attempts by the Church to suppress the truth of Christ’s marriage to Mary Magdalene and his fathering of a ‘royal’ bloodline.

    The Archbishop of Canterbury, The Rt Revd Rowan Williams, criticized it in his Easter address: “Think of the massive international industry around The Da Vinci Code: it is exciting to think of conspiracies and cover-ups when trust in traditional institutions is low. But here is the problem. We are familiar with the world of cover-up stories; we are on safer ground with their cynicism and worldly wisdom. They are less challenging and don’t involve us in confronting difficult realities. And like any kind of cynicism they stop us hearing anything new or surprising.”

    Last year Westminster Abbey refused to allow the £40 million Hollywood adaptation of the book, starring Tom Hanks and Sir Ian McKellen, to be filmed there. Instead, the diocese of Winchester opened its doors to the producers. So is the film’s subject matter unsuitable, as Westminster Abbey believes, or it an opportunity for the Christian faith, as the diocese of Winchester believes?

    From the travel and tourism industry’s point of view, it is an opportunity to bring increased tourism and travel to the UK. From that point of view it may have been a blessing that Westminster declined, as it is already able to draw large crowds. More tourists can now be expected to travel to Winchester. Large numbers of tourists, especially from the United States, are expected to go on ‘spiritual’ tours to Europe that will include visits to sites used in the film.

    Indeed, the English National tourism agency VisitBritain, the Scottish tourist board VisitScotland and the French tourist office, Maison de la France, have partnered with Sony Pictures and its global partner, Eurostar – the high-speed rail service.

    They have even created a dedicated new website, http://www.visitdavincicode.com, featuring in-depth visitor information about Paris, London, and Edinburgh, ‘behind-the-scenes’ secrets from different locations, key destinations and related attractions and a downloadable The Da Vinci Code movie map. Unfortunately, vacation rentals are not included in the resources that the site provides links to.

    The site also offers holiday packages offering consumers the chance to ‘seek the truth’ and follow in the footsteps of the film’s characters. But how sincere is this and what should Christians think about it? This author’s point of view is practical: sometimes ‘bad’ publicity is better than no publicity. Millions of people will see the film and many of them will come to Europe to visit locations used in the film. They will enter genuine holy sites and while there perhaps they will put aside the film’s mixed message and have time to consider the beauty of the sites and think about God.

    Whatever your opinion may be, some Roman Catholics have taken a humourous approach and created a fun site for people going on a Da Vinci Code tour. Check out Freebies for The Da Vinci Code Enthusiasts.

    We at HolidayKeys would certainly recommend spending time near each of the sites. There are lots of bed and breakfasts and holiday cottages for rent around Lincoln Cathedral. For Rosslyn Chapel, just south of Edinburgh in Scotland, there are also many cute holiday cottages to rent. Even the north-west of Paris where Chateau de Villette is, there are French holiday villas.

    Article by Robert Johnson working as Journalist in Residence at HolidayKeys. HolidayKeys is a great place to book and pay safely for your vacation rental: http://www.holidaykeys.com

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04749070231753067663 Unionsbuerger

    Der Da Vinci Code ist eine gute UCHRONIE.

    Diese Uchronie ist nicht unwahrscheinlicher als die Fabeln der Kirche.
    Die “Templiers” sind nicht wegen Blasphemie von Philippe Le Bel und vom Papst erledigt worden.
    Sie waren einfach zu mächtig und zu reich für die Karolinger geworden.
    Den “Templiers” das Geheimnis der Tochter Jesus: Sarah anhängen zu wollen,
    ist eine schöne kontrafaktische Geschichte.
    Warum sollten wir aber nicht daran glauben ?
    Müssen wir den eidesstaatlichen Versicherungen vom Opus Dei und ihrer Benedikten glauben ?

    http://www.chartaland.de


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