Tuesday, October 31, 2006


We have successfully premiered another film. Rebellion of Thought screened Saturday at the Virginia Film Festival to a sold out crowd. Nervous, anxious and exhausted, Brad and I arrived in time to mix and mingle a bit prior to the screening. We and the team had worked 18 hour days the entire week prior, which culminated with an all night editing race to prep the film for its premiere. With less than an hour of sleep on the editing room floor and another 45 minutes on the carpet of the soundstage I thought I might literally fall asleep during the showing, but fortunately the adrenaline kicked in and got me through it.

The moderator announced the screening, the lights dimmed, the crowd settled in and the Paladin Media Group logo took over the screen... and then for the next 75 minutes the crowd was forced to “drink from a fire hose” in the non-stop assault of the heart, soul and mind that is Rebellion of Thought.

It was an interesting mix of a crowd, including friends, family, old professors, colleagues and strangers. I’ve always thought Rebellion of Thought is a very difficult film to watch, because it is a talking-head picture about a rather esoteric subject. Plus, it’s non-stop with very little room to digest the material during the film. It’s like no film I’ve ever seen in that regard.
Anyhow, the 75 minute screening passed quickly and the credits started to roll. That’s when I noticed that no one moved. Not one person stood to make their way to the exit in the entire theatre. An eerie feeling was in the room as everyone stared at the screen and watched the credits while Will Musser’s music pushed them along. Finally the film faded to black and the Paladin logo signified the very end at which point a rather awkward applause broke out. I imagine people probably uncertain to clap because they liked the film but didn’t agree with everything it promotes or perhaps just glad to have survived the experience. Regardless, it was over and time for the most bizarre Q&A I’ve ever been a part of. This was followed by close to an hour of conversations with a host of people who came down front to talk. Obviously, it is an engaging film about a topic that people want to discuss.

Following the screening Brad and I took our parents, my family, James (our editor), Leslie, (our office manager) and her husband Jimmy to the LimeLeaf restaurant for a celebratory dinner. Great memories were made as we concluded this great premiere.

FYI... yesterday I received an email from the program director of the RiverRun International Film Festival. She was in the audience on Saturday and she requested a screener for consideration at their fest next spring in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. We’ll keep you posted.


Kent C. Williamson said...

Sheff -

Thanks for coming out on Saturday and for helping make the premiere a success! Until we can arrange another screening in Cville let's use this blog for dialogue...

What do you see as the "big question" of the film? And how do you think those "sensitive to Christ's calling" should live out their faith?

Thanks for your interest,


Kent C. Williamson said...

Sheff said... "is the train really on the wrong track with no switches between here and irrelevance that can be thrown to redirect towards relevance? do we jump to make a new train or do we redirect the train we are on?"

This I would agree is one of the essential "questions" of the film. The answer to which each of us must determine on his own. This may sound post-modern in itself, but the reality is that every church and every believer's circumstances are unique. Jumping is so severe that I think it should be determined on a case by case basis. In the end it may appear as a mass "jumping from the train", but I would hope that it would be individuals coming to this conclusion on their own and realizing that something drastic needs to take place.

If it is possible to "redirect the train you are on" then perhaps this may be an option... I've had friends that have attempted this. So far, the ones I've seen, haven't made a real difference in the direction things seem to be heading in their traditional churches. At the same time they've been called to stay... while others have been called to jump... both are possibilities that should be considered. In one case a woman I know has spent over 30 years attempting to turn the train around. She's seen fruit from this decision, but honestly, if I knew it would take 30 years to see results I don't think I could do it.

You're right in saying that "it is clear that one must be in community, in the church. we can’t jump to nothing." I ask what do you mean by "church"? If you mean, a collection of believers, I would agree. If you mean in a specific building at a specific time on Sunday morning, then I would disagree.

When I made the jump, (which the film purposefully doesn't address) I landed in a small group of believers... kind of a home church thing. It started as four families and over the first year grew to around 50 people. We knew we didn't want to buy a building, pave a parking lot, hire a pastor, etc., so instead we multiplied into two groups. Our group is now growing again and I imagine we'll repeat the process in the not-so-distant future.

We go house to house each week with a different family hosting and a different family leading. It's a shared leadership model that has it's strengths and weaknesses. Here are some of the strengths... no overhead, lots of flexibility, kids welcome and involved, very hard to be a passive participant, amazing fellowship, and 100 percent of your tithe goes to the ministry, homeless, needy, missionary, etc. of your choice.

Is it perfect? No, but being here, I'm pretty confidant I could never get back on the train.

We have an open door policy that allows people to float in and out of the group as they feel led. It's a good place for people to land between churches. We've even had people join us for a time and then decide to jump back on the train. We don't shun them, because we know that everyone's faith journey is unique and if we can be of service along the way, then great.

What's your current church situation and what do you see as the strengths and weaknesses? I'm also curious as to what types of things people see as temptations NOT to jump.


Kent C. Williamson said...

Here's the next screening...

Sunday, December 3rd, 2006 at 7pm
Hinton Avenue United Methodist Church
750 Hinton Avenue
Charlottesville, Virginia

See the post REBELLION OF THOUGHT... ANOTHER SCREENING for directions and more info.