IndieWIRE reports from the Tribeca Film Festival in New York:
“Boys of Baraka” filmmakers Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady screened their latest effort, “Jesus Camp” in the International Documentary Competition, to a packed house in Lower Manhattan. The emotional doc, from A&E; IndieFilms profiles “Kids on Fire,” a summer camp in Devil’s Lake, North Dakota devoted to inspiring children towards a deeper devotion to the evangelical Christian movement. Organizer Becky Fischer, who has dedicated her life to spread her religious beliefs to the young, is a polarizing yet affable figure who is likely viewed as a hero to some and frightening to others. Backers of the film told indieWIRE that the film can play to audiences on either side of the political spectrum, and quite frankly, it’s true.
“[The Christian right] feel empowered right now and they gave us a lot of access – more than had we done [the film] some years earlier,” said co-director Heidi Ewing following the film’s screening Thursday. Ewing and Grady said that Ms. Fischer had seen the film and was pleased with its content, although, unfortunately, she was not present for the screening because she was attending a charismatic conference in Los Angeles. “Becky saw the film and loved it,” chimed the directing duo.
One particularly inflammatory scene in the film takes place at a revival meeting at the camp lead by Fischer and her associates, in front of well over 100 children. Fischer takes a life-size standup photo of President Bush to the stage, with a large American flag in the background, and asks the crowd to raise their hands towards him as they begin to chant for him to appoint conservative judges to the Supreme Court. Fischer and her fellow evangelicals view Bush as their primary hope to push their right wing agenda regarding abortion rights, prayer in school, and gay rights, and the film captures the emotional devotion instilled on a new young generation of evangelicals. Many in the mostly liberal New York audience could be overheard saying that the film should be a call to arms for people on the left side of the cultural/political divide. The evangelicals, however, are reveling that their message has become an entrenched and potentially irreversible reality.
FWIW, the photos are from the Kids on Fire website, not the film.