HEAVEN IS FOR REAL
Thursday, April 10 @ Angelika
Monday, April 7 @ Angelika
Tuesday, April 8 @ Angelika
Sunday, April 6 @ Angelika
Monday, April 7 @ Angelika
Thursday, April 10
By Holly Wright
Your personal religious beliefs aside, there are three insightful films on the line-up this year that might make you think about what you do and do not believe.
In PRODUCE, a film directed by Chris Dowling, Produce is a young man with Down’s syndrome who works at a local grocery store. Meanwhile, Kristopher Polaha is an aging, alcoholic, former professional baseball player in need of a friend. Calvin has lost his way and is looking for peace; peace that he seems to only feel when he is talking to Produce. Produce seems to be a unique soul, maybe put on earth to help Calvin find his way.
As the title character, David DeSanctis gives us a fantastic performance. We feel his gentleness and can understand why Calvin is drawn to him. Chris Dowling, a Dallas native, says “faith-based films are very specific because you are trying to influence the Christian gatekeepers.” He prefers to use the term “faith-adjacent” for his films. “The stuff I am trying to do would be something even an agnostic could go to and not be turned off.”
Meanwhile, the films BELIEVE ME and HEAVEN IS FOR REAL are both festival Centerpiece Screenings. In the latter, directed by Will Bakke, four fraternity brothers start a fake charity to make quick money. The God Squad, as they become known, is lead by Sam, the mouthpiece for the group played by local actor Alex Russell.
Not an immoral person per se, Sam desperately needs to earn some money to pay next year’s tuition for law school. However, after prasing God in front of hundreds of adoring fans day after day, it seems he starts to believe his own sermons. But does Sam really mean it, or just pitching a product, in this case: Jesus Christ? And if those in the audience who donate money feel good about themselves after the sermons, isn’t The God Squad doing a good thing regardless of where the funds go? BELIEVE ME poses these and many other questions.
HEAVEN IS FOR REAL closely follows the real life story of Reverend Todd Burpo (Greg Kinnear) and his son Colton’s near-death experience at the age of 3. After regaining consciousness, young Colton says he went to Heaven and spoke with angels.
Cute-as-a-button Colton has that innocent, unquestioning ‘faith of a child”. The adults in the town, however, are not so sure … at least at first. The film, directed by Randall Wallace, challenges you to question yourself as to what you believe is possible.
THE OVERNIGHTERS is a documentary about what a real-life angel might actually look like. In a small town in North Dakota, a stagnant job market drive in men from all over the country looking to make money. But in many cases, housing needs can’t meet the demand and economic circumstances of these visitors, prompting Pastor Jay Reinke to host several men in his church.
When city officials intervene, drama unfolds, causing some people to question whether there should be limits to the Christian ideal of “love thy neighbor.” Baptist minister Billy Graham once said “Believers, look up- take courage. The angels are nearer than you think.” I don’t know if there really are such things as angels, but these films might just make you wonder.
DALLAS STAR AWARDS
Cheryl Boone Isaacs is the first African-American President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and only the third woman to hold the office.
John Kricfalusi, the creator of Ren & Stimpy, is the recipient of the 2014 Texas Avery Animation Award presented by REEL FX.
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