In light of the recent obsession with Hollywood regarding Biblical stories like Noah, Exodus, Gods and Kings and the epic television miniseries by reality show producer Mark Burnett – The Bible, PAFF very appropriately scheduled a panel – THE BIBLE ON TRIAL IN FILM – Examining the Historical Credibility of Biblical Epics. Moderated and sponsored by Entertainment Attorney, J. Christopher Hamilton, Esq., and Hosted by Bravo’s “Blood, Sweat ad Heels”.
The panel of distinguished guests included film producer Ralph Winter, whose films include X-Men and the Fantastic Four, Pastor & Apologist Andrew Neil Smellie, Old Testament Scholar from Biola University Dr. David Talley, Scientist & Religious Scholar from Biola University Dr. John Bloom and creator of the Marvel comic books Underworld and Frankenstein – Kevin Grevioux.
Following intros the discussion kicked off when Andrew stated, “People believe what they see much more than what is in the testament…This is the time when we have to live that Christian life and I am using my bible as a scalpel cutting out sins and lust
Dr. Talley in declaring his respect for how much research Hollywood has put into getting the biblical stories right. Citing that in Exodus- Chapter 7 – Moses makes a lot of excuses as to why he can’t compete the tasks requested by God. Dr. Talley continued “The story of the Exodus is about an incredible God…ultimately, this is about getting us to Jesus.” He further declared “God very clearly communicates to people what he want them to know…There wasn’t a lot of clarity in either films with these subjects.”
On the fact that we don’t really know THAT much about the bible and its validity, Dr. Bloom exclaimed
“…looking at pre-history…the further back you go the less evidence you have…how credible are these people that are telling these stories?”
Being the only person on the panel using comic books to infuse the gospel, Kevin Grevioux said, “I try to put a bit of God’s truth in everything I do…These are opportunities to teach because ultimately everything is about the gospel.”
Ralph Winter made a great observation citing that “movies get made for entertainment and most people don’t go to be preached to.” Quoting the historic film mogull Louis B.Mayer, Winter said “You want to send a message call Western Union” He further stated that “powerful movies make an emotional connection.”
When the floor was opened up to a Q&A, the panel was asked their thoughts were regarding pornography and profanity in christian films. The majority of them expressed that they felt it’s wrong and that christian writers show its wrong. They believe that these writesr show a great distinction between good an evil.
As always with theses types of discussions, there are always a a few people not happy with the panel makeup as one sista in the crowd expressed. She felt like there could’ve been more people of color on the panel. Needless to say, it was an uncomfortable moment and Ralph Winter answered it well by quoting the song from Disney’s The Prince of Egypt, “There can be miracles…when you believe.”
The Pan African Film Festival runs through February 16th in Los Angeles.