Anthology Film Archives


December 8 – December 21

Jim Finn’s new film, THE APOCALYPTIC IS THE MOTHER OF ALL CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY, is a meditation on the life, thought, and legacy of St. Paul the Apostle, as refracted through the various 16mm films, animations, board games, and other Church-produced or -adjacent media that have appeared throughout the decades. Not content to present the U.S. theatrical premiere run of the new film, we’ve invited Jim to further explore the topic by guest-curating a film series comprising a selection of films – old and new, feature length and short – that, so to speak, make Christianity strange again. The series reflects Finn’s fascination with the radical heart of the religion, the (often gaping) disconnections between its theory and its practice in an ever-compromised world, and the eclectic and often strange ways Christianity has manifested in films and other media, made by believers, lapsed believers, and non-believers alike.

“There is a quote from French Jesuit Pierre Teilhard de Chardin that’s as good a summary of the hope of religion as any: ‘Someday after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love, and then for a second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire.’ But soon after any movement of love and fellowship appears, the Creeps inevitably move in to harness that love power for their own ends. This series asks how Christianity has functioned down in the dirty politics of humanity? How has the character, the influence, the God-ness of Jesus manifested itself in the movies – even when JC himself is off screen?

One place to start is Charles Laughton’s THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER, which is predicated on the battle between Robert Mitchum’s finger-tattooed, lethal Christianity and Lillian Gish’s version – surrounded by children protected by a shotgun on her lap. In Derek Jarman’s THE GARDEN, the laughter of the Roman patricians mocking the gay Jesusy couple sounds a lot like President Reagan’s press secretary in the early ’80s laughing about the gay plague. Isabel Sandoval’s APPARITION shows Filipina nuns forced from their cloister by the brutality of the Marcos regime. And Margarethe von Trotta’s VISION gives us Barbara Sukowa as medieval singing mystic Hildegard von Bingen.

Troubled Opus Dei fanatic Mel Gibson’s PASSION OF THE CHRIST is a blood-spattered, laughing Jew extravaganza that will be screened alongside excerpts of a cartoon Passion made specially for those happy chosen people. Andrew Hyatt’s PAUL, APOSTLE OF CHRIST is a prison drama with angry old man Paul and hot Luke (played by Mel Gibson’s Christ, Jim Caviezel). Luis Buñuel takes us on a pilgrimage through early heresies in THE MILKY WAY, and Philippe Garrel’s THE VIRGIN’S BED features the greatest Jesus-on-a-donkey jam ever filmed. Musicals are represented by Norman Jewison’s JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR, with a tasseled Judas, and Mike Kelley’s THE DAY IS DONE, with a Catskills comedian Satan and a gentle teen Mary who turns into an angry and vengeful Mother of God. Other artists represented here include Christopher Harris, Germán Bobé, Jorge Castrillo, Kit Fitzgerald, Rolf Forsberg, George Kuchar, Glenn Belverio, Jeanne Liotta, and the holy roller couple Eloyce and James Gist who toured Black churches in the 1930s to show the horrors of illicit sex, debauched dancing, and drug abuse in HELL-BOUND TRAIN.” –Jim Finn

Special thanks to Jim Finn; Dominic Baltazar (Lionsgate); Jorge Castrillo; Chris Chouinard (Park Circus); Rebecca Cleman & Karl McCool (Electronic Arts Intermix); Tom Colley (Video Data Bank); Eric Di Bernardo & Dave Franklin (Rialto Pictures); Kit Fitzgerald; Nancy Gerstman (Zeitgeist Films); Jason Jackowski (Universal); David Jennings (Sony); Jeanne Liotta; Darlene Malimas (Autodidact Films); Jacob Perlin (The Film Desk); Henry Rosenthal; Isabel Sandoval; George Schmalz (Kino Lorber); Michelle Silva; and Sasha Waters Freyer.

< Back to Series