Terry Mattingly ponders "the birth of Contemporary Christian Cinema"

At GetReligion, Terry Mattingly is facing the Giants dilemma.

He asks:

Is this kind of niche market strategy (again) a good idea for faith in popular culture?

Addressing Facing the Giants, he says:

If one assumes that the goal of this movie is evangelism, that would also assume that the movie needs to attract people who are not already believers. Yet, as Whoriskey demonstrates, Facing the Giants is almost certainly going to be a financial success to one degree or another because it speaks the language of the people who are already in the pews. It treats their stories with respect, for a change.
The movie preaches and this audience likes preaching.

Do you see the irony? This is a solid niche market. But it will not help shape the mainstream. Also, it is hard to imagine how Contemporary Christian Cinema will reach many people who do not already believe. This is evangelism for the already evangelized.

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  • Deborah

    News of the success of Facing the Giants in its niche market makes my heart sink. I hate the quick assumption that success equals God’s blessing, or the suggestion that God co-produced the movie. We see the same thing in the Christian publishing world when some inferior product rakes in millions of dollars, leading some to assume that God approves of bad art. God forbid. Of course, God can use a donkey to preach the Gospel, but I digress…

    As a member of the Master’s Artist collective (www.mastersartist.com) and as recently published novelist who has worked very hard at developing the chops to compete withnon-religious writers, it sickens me to see how easy it is for amateurish tractlike work to sell and how hard it is for those of us who try to combine a deep faith with concern for excellence to even get on the bookshelves.

    Those who tackle realistic subject matter with rounded characters, genuine conflict and a deliberate avoidance of simplistic notions about God often fall between the cracks as too bracing for the Christian niche market and too Christian for the nonreligious world.

  • Jeffrey Overstreet

    Stressed?

    Dude, this is a blog about art, faith, the pursuit of excellence, and ethical issues that challenge artists and audiences.

    Like it or not, “Facing the Giants” has sparked a great deal of conversation about this, raising important questions.

    When someone as insightful and experienced in this territory as Terry Mattingly publishes something on it, of course I’m going to link to it.

    That’s not the same thing as being “stressed out.”

    And your “New World” stab is amusing. It has all kinds of fans, but the “specialized audience” I’ve found who have the most passionate things to say about it is made up of visual artists, who are delighted to see a movie in which the director has taken as much care with his imagery as great painters take with the colors on their canvas.

    If movies are made for specialized audiences, well, I want to aspire to be in the audience that can tell excellence from mediocrity. “New World” is a film that challenges us to consider and explore and discover. “Facing the Giants” preaches. One is art. The other sounds more like a religious tract… a moderately entertaining one, but a tract nonetheless.

    It’s a big enough deal that there’s a panel discussion about it, including Dick Staub and Michael Medved, here in Seattle in a couple of weeks. Perhaps they’re participating in an important cultural discussion. Or maybe they’re just stressed.

  • Goyo

    I’m not sure why you’re so stressed out about this film.
    So a bunch of Christians got together and made a movie. That they made a technically acceptable movie and got some kind of distribution for it is quite an accomplishment in itself. It might not be the greatest movie, I’m guessing it’s probably not very good and I don’t plan on seeing it, but it’s a first effort. They should keep going for it, trying to make better movies now that they have learned how to handle the technical details. Hey I think it’s a great thing.

    There are all sorts of movies out there that nobody but a specialized audience will ever see. Take for example The New World, a movie apparently targeted at the huge professional movie critics market.

    Greg Marquez
    goyomarquez@earthlink.net
    http://www.ivchristiancenter.com


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