Wednesday, June 8, 2011
The Comforting The Afflicted Through the Mirror of Identification
I found myself being comforted by many of the films at Sundance. For instance Kinyarwanda offered hope that Christians and Muslims can work together to bring about peace and reconciliation. Films like Another Earth dealt themes of self forgiveness and our desire to be freed from the foolish mistakes and choices we have made, suggesting we don’t have to live in self made prisons. While these films were meaningful and offered encouragement, two particular films encouraged me in a deeply personal way.
The film Higher Ground, tells the spiritual journey of Corrine, a woman who comes to faith in Christ after nearly losing her daughter in an accident. While initially she finds joy, purpose, and community within a Christian community, she eventually choses to leave when she comes to the conclusion that her faith community cannot accept her personal journey of self discovery and her faith that is characterized by doubt. As I watched the film I couldn’t help but feel like Corrine’s struggle was one that many people wrestle with. Often times in my own experience toward self discovery I’ve found myself at odds with the faith community and the social implications of conformity needed to maintain a level of acceptance. I also identified with Corrine in her closing monologue where she admits that she has experienced God as very real and present at times, while at others God is seemingly distant and unreachable.
The second film I deeply connected with was the film Take Shelter. Prior to coming to Sundance I had a sense that God had something that he wanted to communicate to me through this film. Take Shelter is a film about Curtis, a man who is gripped with a growing sense that a terrible storm is coming. Attacked by nightmares and panic stricken day dreams, Curtis isolates himself from his friends and family obsessively focusing his attention on building a storm shelter in hopes of being safe from whatever it is that is coming.
As a person who has wrestled with anxiety for the last several years, Take Shelter depicted, in an extremely dramatic way, what people with anxiety experience. During the introduction before the film, writer and director Jeff Nichols shared that the idea of the film came out of his awareness of a very real and growing sense of fear and isolation that exists within our culture. To him he wanted to make a film that not only addressed that fear but offered some sort of a solution to it.