News

Online festival of faith films will 'foster togetherness, break down walls of isolation'

Film festival moves online to streaming due to lockdown

By Stephen Cauchi

April 1 2020 

A festival of faith-based films – including The Passion of the Christ and Hacksaw Ridge – will be shown online in Australia and New Zealand in April and May.

“Hope at Home” will feature 12 movies over 10 weeks, delivered to the inboxes of people who purchase a festival pass.

The films were originally planned to be screened in Hoyts cinemas in Melbourne for the inaugural Faith Film Festival, but the coronavirus crisis has forced the festival to be moved online.

The festival is the idea of Hoyts and Queensland-based media distributor Heritage Films.

At a time of concern about coronavirus, “it’s probably more important than ever to get out a message of hope”, said Rod Hopping, chief executive of Heritage Films.

“It’s timely to try and mitigate fear and anxiety in people’s lives. It seems better timing than ever. Maybe God’s got it on his mind as well in terms of bringing it all together.”

Mr Hopping said that Hoyts had approached Heritage Films with the idea for the festival.

“We’ve got a great relationship with them,” he said. “We don’t get calls like that every day.

“The cinema space is always a tricky space to navigate. Pretty much every screen in our world is dictated by Hollywood and none more so than the big screen.

“Finding space and time in programs and schedules to put together a festival that relates to faith-based films isn’t the easiest thing to do.”

The Passion of the Christ, which earnt $US622 million at the box office following its release in 2004, was a defining moment for faith-based films, he said.

“What [director] Mel Gibson did was, he raised the bar from both a quality story-telling perspective but also a box office perspective,” he said.

“Everyone will try and catch that bottle of lightning again.”

Sony Pictures, for example, had released a number of faith-based films in recent years, including Paul Apostle of Christ, The Star and Miracles from Heaven.

These were “high quality films with great actors attached,” he said. However, “it’s not easy with faith-based films to make them work. It’s a very limited space that you get in terms of programming. So this festival is a really interesting and fun idea to kind of mix it up and give the audience a number of films to go and just see what happens.”

According to a statement from Heritage Films, the festival “was designed to bring life, hope and nourishment to communities around Australia across the month of April”. 

“Now, we’re seeing the need to bring deep hope and opportunity for connection to those same communities in an online environment.

“We believe there’s a beautiful opportunity to foster togetherness, break down walls of isolation and invite Australians to come together in a way that can assist in fighting against the potential anxiety and loneliness many are facing as a result of recent events. 

“The stories we have in our hands bring life and powerful messages of God’s intimate love for each of us … we can bring many together and create a place of hope and support in the midst of uncertainty and fear.”

The festival films will be viewed online and hosted using Facebook.

“After you secure your festival pass you’ll receive a detailed description around how to access and watch the festival content,” said Heritage Films.

The Festival starts on 5 April, when ticket holders will receive a special Easter bundle of three films. They will then receive a new film in their library every week until 6 June, as well as an accompanying Q&A with the filmmakers and fellow storytellers and access to a range of online events including panels and workshops. 

A Festival Facebook Community will have “watch parties” and other exclusive content.

Tickets for the festival are $59.99, but a discount voucher is widely available (see https://www.hopeathome.com.au/festival-pass for details). This brings the price down to $29.99.

Those who subscribe later have instant access to earlier films. 

For more details on the online festival, see hopeathome.com.au  

 

The films being screened online are:

The Passion of the Christ (2004) - Mel Gibson’s blockbuster 2004 film depicting Christ’s crucifixion. (5 April)

The Easter Experience (2007) - A movie that brings the passion and resurrection of Jesus to life through dramatic storytelling and teaching. (5 April)

The Passion: A Brickfilm (2018) - a 30-minute film that portrays the story of Jesus' death and resurrection through the eyes of LEGO characters. (5 April)

Loud Krazy Love (2018 documentary) – How the lead guitarist for the rock band Korn, Brian Welch, walked away from a $23 million record deal to kick his drug habit and become a good father. (12 April)

Beautifully Broken (2018) – The true story of three families impacted by the horror of Rwanda's 1994 genocide. (19 April)

Hacksaw Ridge (2016) – the World War 2 experiences of Desmond Doss, an American pacifist combat medic who, as a Seventh-Day Adventist Christian, refused to carry or use a weapon or firearm of any kind. (26 April)

The Heart of Man (2017 documentary) – A cinematic retelling of the parable of the prodigal son, interwoven with true testimonials of personal and sexual brokenness. (3 May)

The Least of These: The Graham Staines Story (2019) – An account of the life of an Australian missionary in India in the 1990s. (10 May)

Christ in You: The Voice (2019 documentary) - explores the power of prophecy through ordinary Christians. (17 May)

Ragamuffin (2013) - based on the life of Rich Mullins, a musical prodigy who rose to Christian music fame and fortune only to walk away and live on a Navajo reservation. (24 May) 

A Brave Heart: The Lizzie Velasquez Story (2015 documentary) - the journey of a woman born with a rare syndrome that prevents her from gaining weight, a condition which has resulted in severe bullying. (31 May)

Special new release – 6 June.