Keith Snyder
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God on film

I do believe we must, said my email yesterday morning to Mike and Larry.

What that line prefaced was a forward of's FESTIVAL SPOTLIGHT mass-mailing. I get one every day or two, each spotlighting a film festival that I can submit my film to through withoutabox's online submission system.

In the Spotlight this week is the GOD ON FILM FESTIVAL, dedicated to films and filmmakers who explore spiritual themes of redemption, struggle, and faith. God On Film awards over $3,000 in cash prizes to winners of three short film categories relating to the spiritual journey.

Right in the heart of the Big Apple, this year's festival will culminate in the God on Film Festival Screening and Awards Ceremony, held at The Manhattan Center's Grand Ballroom, part of the historic Manhattan Opera House built by Oscar Hammerstein in 1906.

If you've made a short that's divinely inspired, read on for details...

Cash prizes! Manhattan Opera House! God-related short films! I'm so happy! Is this custom-made for CREDO or what?

Or what.

Email from Larry:

We could, or we could save money. This is from their website:

Q: What do you mean by "films that explore spiritual themes"?

A: The distinction of the God on Film Festival is this very question. The films that we are looking for are those that capture the transcendent in ordinary life, that deal with issues of the spiritual journey. Films should explore themes such as redemption, struggle, faith, etc. Films should be profanity and nudity free, and seek to explore spirituality, rather than demean it.

Those on spiritual journeys don't say curse words, much less God.

Redemption, struggle, journey... grapple with huge issues, please, but no bad words.

God says fuck in CREDO. He says it once, for good reason, at a carefully chosen moment, and there's nothing about it that "demeans spirituality." There is no other profanity. We made a 9-minute screen opera about God's love and anger, and we can't submit it to the God On Film Festival at the Manhattan Opera House!

Is it a masterpiece? Worth making this much fuss over? Is it a festival award winner?

Hell if I know--but we can't even compete.

They're interested in pushing their agenda, Mike explained during our tea break. (We work together in Long Island City, and 2:30ish is teatime. Today was Harney's Big Red Sun.) They're not interested in film, they're interested in their agenda.

My next email expressed my first thought:

Well, now I REALLY think we must.

All right, classic bad attitude, and I felt vindicated saying it. But this noble gesture would cost money and most likely not get us anywhere. So the chances that I'll submit the thing anyway have dropped to maybe 50%.

I'm aware that just because they call it GOD ON FILM, it's not necessarily going to be the festival that I would call GOD ON FILM--but this really bothers me, this idea that an audience interested in faith and spiritual issues can't handle profanity. They can handle "struggle," apparently, but only if the person struggling is polite about it.


I believe the restriction is because of perceived audience tastes, and not about adhering to strict religious beliefs. I believe this because unless the God On Film Festival summarily rejects any film that depicts God on film, its very existence flat-out violates the second Commandment: Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above.

So the restrictions don't spring from anything God said, because we're already ignoring the Commandments. (If there's a commandment that says Thou shalt not say bad words, I don't know about it.) So we'll ban what God doesn't give a Shit about--this is the same God who wiped out any number of Egyptians; he cares how I talk?--and reduce the potential power of an evening of spiritual programming, but at least the nice church ladies won't be offended.

That's fine--I actually have no problem with that. Nice church ladies need entertainment too. But be honest. Call it the NICE CHURCH LADIES FILM FESTIVAL.

Don't call it GOD ON FILM. The God I would love, if he were there (and I'm not decided on the issue) is the creator of everything--the creator of the mighty redwood, the delicate mitochondrion, the 9mm pistol, and the word "fuck". Either God is all, or God is useless, but if God is all, then He is the LORD THY GOD, thou tiny, flash-quick bit of flesh, and thou shalt fucking well QUAIL in the terribleness of his motherfucking GAZE, and know thou hast NOT done right by thy family and NOT done right by thy friend and NOT done right by thine enemy and NOT DONE RIGHT BY THYSELF, so redeem thy soul NOW! tortured mortal, NOW! failing mortal, NOW! beloved mortal made of Me, made IN MY IMAGE, because I LOVE THEE and THOU WILT SOON DIE!

But I guess I'm wrong. What God really wants is politeness. Break all the commandments you want, but watch that potty mouth!

And no breasts! God hates breasts!

No penises! God hates those!

Have a cuddly-wuddly day.

I am a God of no religious preference.
My love is for the Midwest and Mideast,
The planet, the galactic cluster, each
Bacterium, and each of you who does
Or does not bow his head in deference.
No stern commandment but a point of reference:
Who preaches most doth heed that preaching least.

—CREDO, verse 2

[Best of the Blog| News & Notes about CREDO ]

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