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Feb. 28: Faith on Film – A Search for God and Meaning in Contemporary Film

As part of Butler University's Seminar on Religion and World Civilization, a panel of experts explores God in film

When: Tuesday, Feb. 28 7:00-9:00 PM

Where: Butler University, Krannert Room of Clowes Memorial Hall, 4600 Sunset Ave., Indianapolis, IN 46208

As popular culture continues to drive communication about faith, contemporary film is an increasingly powerful medium for religious themes. Often, seemingly secular movies offer some of the most compelling spiritual and theological ideas. Three critics offer their take on a single film, “Garden State,” (Fox Searchlight Pictures, 2004). They invite seminar audience members are encouraged to view the film on their own and come prepared to join a conversation about its meaning and message. Here's a synopsis of "Garden State" from rottentomatoes.com:

Stunned to find himself in his hometown after such a long absence, Large
finds old acquaintances around every corner living quite unique lives as
gravediggers (Peter Sarsgaard), fast food knights and the panderers of pyramid
schemes. Meanwhile, at home, he does his best to avoid a long-simmering but
inevitable confrontation with his father. By a twist of fate, Large meets Sam
(Natalie Portman), a girl who is everything he isn't. A blast
of color, hope and quirks, Sam becomes a sidekick who refuses to ride in his
sidecar. Her warmth and fearlessness give Large the courage to open his heart to
the joy and pain of the infinite abyss that is life.

An interesting choice of movie to discuss: A Christian movie review site pans it (although appreciating the acting quality):

"Garden State" is essentially a big hole. All of its characters are looking for happiness, looking for hope, looking for relief from their pathetic lives, and can never seem to quite grasp it. The film feels empty from the start, and the blank stare that adorns Andrew's face throughout the entire movie is indicative of his lost life. There is a line near the end that sums up what all the characters are going through and how they feel; Samantha tells Andrew " That's life. It's real, and sometimes it ****** hurts, but that's all we got." As Christians, we know that there is so much more to life. Jesus himself said "I have come that you may have life, and have it more abundantly," and all it takes is to turn one's life over to God and stop trying to fix things yourself. Sadly, the characters in "Garden State" are much like those all around us, who will turn to anything for hope.

Discussing the film and the broader issues will be:

Dr. Lynn Schofield Clark, a professor of communications studies at the University of Colorado where her research has focused on the search for meaning in contemporary film, television, and on the internet.

Mr. Martin Doblmeier, president of Journey Films, an internationally known filmmaker based in the Washington D.C. area. Among his films is the award-winning Bonhoeffer, about the German theologian killed for his outspoken opposition to the Nazis

Dr. William Romanowski, a professor of theology at Calvin College, who studies extensively the role of theology in contemporary film, television and music.

Free and open to the public.

If you get into this sort of serious discussion of film, you should attend the discussion of "High Noon" at the Eiteljorg February 11, and the discussion of "who deserves a biopic?" March 31. And you will want to get a series pass for the International Film Festival.

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