Martin Luther placed his 95 theses on the door of Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany on November 10, 1517, triggering revolutionary opinions that would begin the Reformation.
Director Spencer T. Folmar echoed that spirit this year by nailing another of his “Hard Faith” films to Hollywood’s door.
Folmar’s latest film, “Shooting Heroin” is the perfect example of how most Americans really experience their faith, through pain, suffering and loss. It’s hard to keep Christ in one’s heart when the hellish conditions of life seem to never change. But the struggle with God is often the point, just ask Jacob in Genesis 32:22-32.
The faith-based film community often talks about making movies that “cross over,” code for sinners yet saved. But the genre for too long has been incomplete in its portrayal of people of faith.
Christian screenwriters write characters that know, no matter what befalls them in the story, “they’re going to heaven for ice cream at the end of this narrative.”
That’s not helpful to preaching the Gospel in cinema.
Folmar’s characters live lives of quiet desperation, praying under their breath for the coming King to clean up their mess. The characters in “Shooting Heroin” are real people, each one living a life surrounded by faith whether they know it or not.
- A church in town they feel compelled to go to when the s*** hits the fan
- An honest priest moved by God to be in the right place when human suffering is occurring
- A cross around someone’s neck while a needle is in their arm
Real faith is more subtle and harder to hold on to. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with good family fare that lets you be happy and hopeful about your future in Christ, but that’s not a message with which a fallen world can relate.
The Gospel of Christ is an offense to the sensibilities of the modern world. How do you package that into a film? How do you make offense seeker sensitive to a worldly audience?
If you take away the offense you take away the Gospel, and then you’re left with “God’s Not Dead Part 4.”
You would never label “Shooting Heroin” a faith-based film. It’s too hard, too honest to believe that a loving God would put people of faith in these conditions, but all you’re promised in Christ is a better life, not better circumstances.
Folmar’s films show how searching for the truth can lead to more pain, but can ultimately lead to the resurrection of a new life.
This isn’t the first rodeo for Folmar.
His previous film, “Generational Sins,” forces you to look at how parents can unwillingly hand down their sinful lives to condemn their children. The mainstream faith-based film community best be ready for change because Folmar is interested in something more than just making money.
He’s got big plans and big films in the works. It’s about time a filmmaker of faith came forward and told stories that have a firm foundation in the real mess that is life.
He’s made four feature films, I hope he has 91 more to nail to the door of the faith-based film industry.