Videos tell story of early church / Strengths and weaknesses in dramatizing New Testament church

There have been many films about the life of Jesus, and a handful of high-profile movies from The Sign of the Cross to Quo Vadis? have detailed the persecution of Christians in Rome some 35 years later. But the dramatic transition Christianity made between those two points — from a marginal Jewish sect to a thriving, if persecuted, community in the seat of Gentile power — has received scant attention even from Christian filmmakers.

Into this void steps Acts, the second film from The Visual Bible. (The first was Matthew.) Like the aborted Genesis Project of the 1970s, the minds behind this South African venture hope to film the entire Bible, using the New International Version as their script. Says the press kit in bold, coloured letters: “No scriptwriter’s liberties. No interpretations. No dramatic license.”

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Interview: Dan Ireland (The Whole Wide World, 1996)

danirelandFor Dan Ireland, directing The Whole Wide World is a dream come true. More than three decades after he first fell in love with film, Ireland is bringing his first feature, about the frustrated love life of Conan the Barbarian author Robert E. Howard, to Vancouver.

“I don’t think Howard ever had a choice in his life of what he would be,” says the 46-year-old Vancouver native, who says he felt a bond of sorts with Howard. “He was a writer. And I was a film enthusiast, I was a total film nut. And I didn’t know where it would lead me.”

The first film Ireland remembers seeing was Them!, the sci-fi flick about giant ants, which he saw at the age of five in a drive-in theatre with his parents. He got his first job at 14 as a doorman for the Vogue theatre. He eventually tried studying political science at UBC, but gave that up to embark on a career that saw him work at almost every theatre in town.

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Interview: Kenneth Branagh, director of Hamlet (1996)

hamlet1996Date: January 10, 1997
Place: Hotel Vancouver, Vancouver, BC

This interview was conducted when Kenneth Branagh was in Vancouver to promote his four-hour movie version of Hamlet. It was a joint interview with two other student reporters; Robin Yeatman and I represented The Ubyssey, and Marci Drimer represented The Campus Times. Branagh had to catch a plane right after the interview, and he tended to speak really fast, lowering his voice sometimes as he did so, so it’s hard to make out some bits on the tape; those portions are marked *** .

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Gender vortex / Critics of 1950s scifi thought it was sexist. But the new Star Trek movie shows they ain’t seen nothing yet.

In one early scene in Star Trek: First Contact, Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart), who has travelled back in time to stop the Borg from conquering the Earth in the 21st century, strokes a nuclear missile from his planet’s past. Data (Brent Spiner), the android, follows suit but says he cannot feel anything, so he tries again. Then Counselor Troi (Deanna Sirtis) walks in, sees them fondle the tall, hard, erect explosive device, and asks, “Would you three like to be left alone?”

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Review: Moses (dir. Roger Young, 1995)

ABRAHAM meandered too much, and Jacob fell completely flat. Things started looking up with the epic Joseph, and now, with the brisk Moses under its belt, it would appear that ‘The Bible Collection’ has finally hit its stride.

And what a fast pace it is, too: Moses opens with a quick montage to show how this Hebrew came to grow up in the Egyptian palace and then it squeezes Exodus and Numbers into a mere three hours while skipping Leviticus and using just one or two chapters from Deuteronomy. (By way of comparison, it took seven hours for The Bible Collection’s first three videos to cover 39 chapters of Genesis.)

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Interview: Mike Leigh (Secrets & Lies, 1996)

Mike Leigh’s films are a paradoxical mix of tight directorial control and letting the chips fall where they may. He begins each film by gathering a cast around a basic premise, then getting the actors to improvise a storyline. But once a character’s next move has been determined, everything is scripted, rehearsed and executed with exacting precision. The result is an extremely professional work in which neither you nor the filmmakers ever quite know what’s going to happen next.

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