Thursday, March 3, 2016

Recap: The 2016 Oxford Film Festival

The Oxford Film Festival continues to grow as the regions most brightest and promising film festivals. Our staff had the opportunity to screen various films at the event as well as the opportunity to interview several filmmakers. Here are two films that we are spotlighting:
The Armor of Light
In the new documentary, The Armor of Light, filmmaker Abigail Disney invites evangelical Christians to re-examine their views on gun ownership, not as a political issue, but as a moral one. The film follows Pastor Rob Schenck president of Faith in Action and chairman of the Evangelical Church Alliance as he grapples with whether Christians can truly claim to be pro-life and also pro-gun.The intention of the film is not to tell evangelicals what to think, but rather to push them to ask all the important questions.
Filmmaker Spotlight: Tanya Taylor Wright

Searching For Hell:
We had the opportunity to see this film via a VR (Virtual Reality  Headset). The experience was definitely once in a lifetime. I will just start out by saying that  to intentionally seek out an unpleasent destination most people would prefer to not even discuss would pose a challenge to almost any filmmaker. Generally speaking, from a Biblical standpoint, Hell is the eternal separation from God, a fiery realm where Satan and his rebellious angels were cast for their disobedience, and where the souls who did not make the right choice to have salvation through Christ are sent to eternal torment. But, in this newest documentary, “Searching For Hell”, the concept takes on not only the religious approach to its heated subject, but also chooses to show it through the eyes of people who live, work ,  and have experienced, even artistically created their own personal “hells”, a sobering portrait to paint in an already tumultuous contemporary world.
The  film takes five perspectives via five countries and through the eyes of five directors, with the idea of “hell on earth” covers a myriad of ideologies and locales across the globe. The desolate landscape of Russia where, in 1970, a group of geophysicists aim to dig the deepest borehole on record, only to experience unexpected problems and supposed eerie sounds from its depths. A town called Hell in the state of Michigan, played at tongue-in-cheek for tourists, yet a resident’s personal story of the hell of war, death, & survival is both harsh, yet filled with bravery. Izu, Japan where a multi-generational family lives and works in a home/museum dedicated to the ancient Buddhist tome Ojoyoshu and the graphic depiction of the horrors its portrayed hell offers to those who do wrong in this life.
Then there's Indonesia’s active volcano, Kawah Ijen, where the intrepid sulphur miners risk toxic fumes, burning eyes, seared throats, no visibility, and perilous climbs toting 160lbs of the rock out of the crater, all just to make a living. Or finally to the perpetually war-torn hell of Kinshasa, Congo where children are accused of “witchcraft”, when reality is abuse, abandonment, and estrangement from any love or feeling of being wanted.
Searching For Hell is a sobering and eye opening film that really shows the varying horrors of the world that are realities for so many.