Thursday, May 03, 2007

The ONE Audience

Catching this film today I felt was not too dissimilar to, well, being in church. That "The Cinema" is regarded as church for many is no surprise, and making a film requires a baptism few are fully prepared for the shock of cold water/reality, spiritual or secular. So watching this film today (in contention for a Golden Gate Award) was akin to a dual dipping. Bracing, transformative, and for the true believer. Both in and out of church. Hallelujah! After the screening, the director introduced the Pastor and his entire family, subjects of the film. The good pastor, knowing the question on everyone's mind, answered, "Yes, Im crazy." But his disarming nature, suiting him well for the ministry, and for having people open their hearts/souls and pocketbooks, made it near impossible to dislike the personality, although logic would tell you God doesn't speak to or through this man, but HE thinks God does. God told him so. Hallelujah! - MS

Most filmmakers are drawn to their work by a strong creative impulse and a driving passion to tell a particular story. Few are called by God to make a magnum opus. Meet Richard Gazowsky, pastor of the Voice of Pentecost Church in San Francisco and self-anointed film director. When a message from God instructed him to start a film company, Gazowsky knew he had no choice, and Christian WYSIWYG Filmworks was born. Despite his complete lack of filmmaking experience, Gazowsky goes into production on Gravity: The Shadow of Joseph, an overtly religious sci-fi epic pitched as "Star Wars meets The Ten Commandments." Shooting on 70mm to achieve true biblical proportions, Gazowsky spares no expense in amassing a large crew (featuring family members in key roles), state-of-the-art equipment, elaborate props and costumes and a principal shooting location in Italy. A highly ambitious undertaking, but the project is readily blessed—and partially financed—by members of Gazowsky’s congregation. However, production hinges on the $100 million promised but not yet delivered by Jesus-loving German investors. In the meantime, the crew works on blind faith. Miracles and blessings soon give way to a series of technical—perhaps Satanically influenced?—difficulties. But the pastor’s divine directorial vision keeps his filmmaking flock resolute in their mission to make this movie for their "audience of one" (God). Back from Italy, they lease the Treasure Island Film Studio to continue production. Inexperienced and in over their heads? Clearly. Committed and motivated to make their movies? Absolutely. Which makes them not too different from passionate, persistent filmmakers of any faith. —Joanne Parsont

West Coast Premiere. This film is competing for a Golden Gate Award

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