The conversations heard on the set of “A Question of Faith” are ones we say should happen regarding race in America.
Yet too often those exchanges don’t occur.
“A Question of Faith” producer Angela White credits the diverse cast preparing a story that opens with heartache.
The film, starring Richard T. Jones, Kim Fields, C. Thomas Howell and Renee O’Connor follows three families of different races connected by pain, survival and faith. One couple faces a life-alerting decision. Another deals with the fallout from distracted driving. A third might lose their daughter to a sudden illness.
Those aren’t the only obstacles in their way.
Howell’s character displays the kind of soft bigotry that doesn’t just complicate the healing process. It can be challenging to capture on screen in an authentic manner. White says the star didn’t take that task lightly.
“He wanted to make sure it wasn’t over the top, not overt racism,” says the veteran film producer. That concern mirrored the chatter between the cast and crew regarding the emotionally charged film.
Having a multicultural cast enriched those on-set discussions, she says. The cast members listened to each other, first and foremost.
“It starts a good conversation,” she says.
FAST FACT: Angela White earned a degree in political science from Rutgers University
“A Question of Faith” marks the first Christian movie led by a black female producer. White’s Silver Lining Entertainment has a long track record, including films like “The Sin Seer” and “My Favorite Five.”
None of her previous projects compare to “A Question of Faith.”
“I’ve never had a film that tackled so many issues,” she says, including organ donation and texting while driving. “This is definitely my best piece of work, my most profound piece of work.”
The film’s potential healing power arrives at a perilous time in our culture, White says.
“People are questioning their faith in marriage, politics, nature,” she says. And the early response to the film, particularly at a screening held early this year at MegaFest, hammered that home.
“Every time we screen it we get a personal story back,” she says.
Working on her first Christian film taught White about the cultural land mines impacting the genre.
“A lot of people don’t want to be associated with [faith-based films],” she says. Some spiritually minded souls similarly view the category with suspicion, but for different reasons.
“Churches don’t want to turn their experiences into entertainment. Churches have to trust the filmmakers to tell the story,” she says. For White, that meant collaborating with two different churches to “make sure nothing was salacious or negative to the church … you have to be respectful of the process,” she adds.
Hollywood turned a corner on the genre once executives saw the money to be made from films like “The Passion of the Christ” and “Heaven Is for Real.” Even with the boom in faith-based content White thinks there’s still an under-served market to be tapped. She didn’t want to preach to the proverbial choir with “Faith” all the same.
The movie features secular stars like Fields and O’Connor of “Xena” fame, to “broaden the demographics,” she says.
“If you want the message to get out you have to make sure the eyeballs are there,” she says.
Faith-based films, no matter the quality, can be a tough sell to agnostics, let alone atheists. White hopes these groups will still give “Faith” a chance.
“I have told a few people who can’t stand Christian films that this is a human story dealing with regular crises,” she says. “Take out Christianity and it’s what happens when things don’t work out the way you want them too. It just gives you another take on how to get through it.”