One of my dear friends, David Neff, is the director of the Lights. Camera. Help. Film Festival here in Austin. Have you heard of it?
The LCH Film Fest is the first in the world to showcase films for nonprofits and cause-driven organizations. Last year, they screened a film about this organization that very nearly prompted me to hop on a plane to Kenya to teach girls math. (Note, I am horrible at math. And have also never been to Africa. This might tell you something about those films' heart strings pullage.)
LCH Film Fest kicks off tonight, and while a good number of the screenings are devoted to shorts -- like this Adopt a Cat video from Best Friends Animal Society, that I must watch over and over again with a stupid grin on my face -- there is a particularly buzzy feature film that spotlights religious abuse.
It's called Paradise Recovered, and it played at the Austin Film Festival last year. It looks FASCINATING.
See what I mean? Doesn't it look interesting?
For Austinites, what's equally intriguing as the story itself is the amount of Austin in it. The film was partially shot here, stars Austinites as the lead characters, was directed by a graduate of The University of Texas (Storme Wood), and was written by a graduate of the Austin Graduate School of Theology (Andie Redwine. Coolest last name ever).
Paradise Recovered has already won a slew of indie film fest awards, and its profits are going to provide mental health services for survivors of religious abuse. Andie, a former member of the Worldwide Church of God (she left at 18), wrote this film over a period of two years while she tried to figure out fundamentalism in Christianity, cult history, and mind control. She even interviewed 100 survivors from 18 aberrant church groups for her research!
Andie still considers herself a follower of Jesus' teachings, but used this film to, in part, explore how one's faith could be reframed outside of a rigid, oppressive culture.
I'm just enthralled. While I was never a member of a "high demand" church myself, I definitely did attend a church for a while, and eventually left because I couldn't relate to church culture. Or rather, my church's culture. I didn't write off spirituality, and think that many faiths (including Christianity) have wisdom to offer, but ... when my pastor started telling the congregation who to vote for, I thought: "Ruh roh! Time to mosey!"
Anyway. Paradise Recovered plays tonight during the Lights. Camera. Help. Film Festival's kick-off screening at RGK Center for Philanthropy and Community Service (2311 Red River), starting at 7pm. A three-day event, you may purchase single-day passes for the LCH Film Fest at $13.00 each.
Please let me know if you attend! I'd love to hear your thoughts on this film.