Thursday, October 8, 2009

Cinema with a conscience.

The photo here (exquisitely taken by my friend, 2-time Pulitzer winning photographer, Michael Williamson) is part and parcel of what's been on my mind lately, causing me to pace in a circle like a dog trapped in a cage, feeling I've nowhere to go.

You see, throughout the years, I have let this man down. And though I wish I could alter the hands of time, I cannot. All I have is now, and it is now that I must move forward.

Yes, I have finally realized something I have always known. This face in this picture, this man has a story to tell. It might just hurt like hell to tell it, but it has to be told.

I have to tell it.

In fact, we have to tell it.

I can't escape it. You can't escape it. I can no longer run from how much my heart aches. Try as I may to deny it, my heart aches because this man's heart aches and we are one. We are brothers. We are of the same dirt, of the same God. Our same blood courses through the same veins, making its way to the same life center, the heart.

The time to act is now.

Where's the cinema about this man? He's a good worker. Probably a husband and father. He may be the most amazing man any us could hope to meet. But how do we know, unless we get to know him? His back is one of the many millions of back's this country has been built upon. So we just toss him aside? Discard his value and place? Make excuses as to why we can't get involved in his story? Why do we feel like we have to justify our complacency?

Maybe we don't really care? Maybe we're lazy as hell? Aha, maybe we're narcissists. And we've become an ugly people, consumed only by greed and self-interest. We've lost our way.

God show us the way.

We need to tell the stories, engage with the lives of the disenfranchised, the dispossessed. We need to be with the sick and the naked and the hungry. We are the sick and naked and the hungry. So, who are we trying to fool by pretending we're not? There but for the Grace of God go us all.

I believe that a call has come for a new kind of cinema. One with a conscience. One that gathers us around the camp fire reminding us of who we have been, who we are, and who we can become. And let's never forget that. For quite some time now, how we have been doing things in this industry of the silver screen (and this culture in general) has been broken. We have forgotten what our responsibilities as artists and people are, and we have allowed "industry" to consume us. Well, no longer. Its time to rebuild the how, time to change this broken wheel.

We need a faith supported by action. We can no longer allow the current prevailing cultural mindset to dictate our paths and excuse our insular ways of being. We must step outside ourselves, attempt to look through the eyes of eternal perspective, and allow the hand of the divine to touch the lives of this moment. And we who are artists have the great responsibility of keeping our gaze fixed on the movement of the ever changing tides. For, if we turn our eyes away, it will be as if we have stolen bread from a child.

Lord, give us our daily bread.

More on this in the days to come. For now, here is a lovely cinematic poem, essay praising human life and work.


  1. amen to that brother, and thank you for the challenge.

  2. The challenge will not be in the making or in the telling, but in the sharing. Not only artists need a change of heart; audience do, too.

  3. Indeed, 'tis a big part of the challenge as well, Greg - a change of heart in the audience.

  4. You have described my heart and that of other subtantive, Christian storytellers and filmmakers during my lifetime. (I am now 62). In the fields of Performance Studies and Minority Studies, I have been conducting qualititative and quantitative research and publishing concerning how to strengthen and empower the marginalized, disenfrnachised, and dispossessed.
    Through social media those of us who are like-minded can connect and support each other in this effort. See those with whom I have networked- These include the Schaeffer family, Bella Film Group, producers of Amazing Grace... I think you would appreciate my book- Prayerfully yours, Diane Howard, Ph.D.

  5. Thanks for your post, Diane. Feel free to comment anytime. The thoughts of those who are concerned with how to "strengthen and empower the marginalized, disenfranchised, and dispossessed" are always welcome here.

    It's truly time for those who call themselves Christian to stop making excuses for not getting involved.

    Again, thanks for connecting.