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How Documentary Films In Communities Of Faith Can Transform Lives

As a movie and a movement lover who will be toggling between the Oscars this Sunday night and news of this nation’s tumultuous times, I wonder what it would look like if the power of film was maximized to equip communities of faith to advance justice. I’m a documentary filmmaker. I have seen the power […]
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These Fierce Films from Sundance Give Us Hope in the Face of the Terrible State of the Union

The State of the Union is dreadful. Are there any signs of hope in this era in which the Death-eaters have taken over the Ministry of Magic? Just back from the Sundance Film Festival, I am struck by the string of great David-and-Goliath documentary films I saw there. Taking on the NYPD: Crime + Punishment tells the […]
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5 Life-Changers from SXSW and 1 from Sundance

By Macky Alston Just back from Texas. The weather was as cold and weird there as it was in my snow-swept hometown of New York when I returned. Clearly, the world is coming to an end. Before it does, I have some gifts for you – some that may even help you prevent the looming […]
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The Women’s March, ACT UP, and the Life-Changing Power of Creative Resistance

That moment in The Wizard of Oz, after the tornado, when Dorothy walks out of the broken black-and-white home into the land of color “where the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true,” that is what it was like to arrive in Washington, DC for the Women’s March. Here’s the thing: If […]
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All I Have is a Voice

Here we are again. Stunned. Whispering in twos and threes via text, in office kitchens, swapping lines from poetry as if we are in Fahrenheit 451 or some sci-fi movie in which we can be arrested, deported, disappeared for having a heart. Last night, I attended a gathering at my church of people who wandered […]
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You Have Something to Say That We Need to Hear

You have something to say that we need to know. You were not born for nothing. In you, in the terrific, singular way life has shaped you, there is a truth that is yours to tell. You may say: Not me. You may think: What I have done in this lifetime is to follow orders […]
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The Power and Pleasure You Can Unleash When Your Inner Artist Joins Your Inner Activist

What would happen, do you think, if we unleashed our most creative selves as we’re considering what action to take to right the wrongs in this world? Too often, we think of artists as freaks of nature. Fact is: we are all artists. We are born that way. Look at the stuff you drew at […]
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Leaders Like MLK Are Not a Thing of the Past, But We Must Shape the Moral Frame of Our Day

Watching Selma in the middle of a crowded movie theater this week, I found myself doubled over in emotion. I knew the faces and their voices. My daddy was a white preacher who was run out of his North Carolina pulpit by the KKK for his civil rights support. In 1964, he and my mother […]
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Filmmaking as Spiritual Practice and Ministry

Imagine this: for two years you have been filming a minister with cancer. She is convinced she has a long prophetic ministry ahead of her. She believes that, for God, anything is possible and, because she has this sense of call, she is sure to lick her cancer. As the months tick by, you film […]
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My Blessed Gay Marriage

I was a freshman in college in 1981 when I told my parents that I am gay. My father, a Presbyterian minister, mourned the fact that I would never marry, would never have children, would never be happy. Already I had lived lifetimes of shame and anguish as a youth aware of his unacceptable sexuality, […]
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The Challenge of Bonhoeffer

When the 2003 Sundance Film Festival rejected Martin Doblmeier’s feature-length documentary, Bonhoeffer, Doblmeier and the staff of Journey Films decided to seek out Sundance audiences on their own. They called the interfaith council of Park City, Utah (where Sundance is held) and hatched a plan to show the film in local church sanctuaries as the […]
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A Few of My Favorite Films

As a documentary filmmaker who considers spirituality life’s most fascinating dimension, I always wondered why there weren’t more great documentaries on matters of faith. A few years ago, I was asked to teach a course on documentary films and filmmaking at Union Theological Seminary. It was my hope that I might find the best films […]
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