Marriage and taxes were the winning themes at the 2009 San Antonio (Texas) Independent Christian Film Festival in January but the over all winner is the Christian film industry.
While the Academy swoons over the independent film Slumdog Millionaire, audiences have voted with their feet, preferring the troubled-marriage turn-around tale Fireproof. The highest-grossing independent film of 2008 was a film produced by a church in Albany, Ga., staffed mostly by volunteers and marketed to evangelical Christians and Roman Catholics through a network of pastors and influential laypersons.
And because the films offered to Christians by Christians remain off the media radar, they are celebrated off the radar too.
The Christian Film Festival's honors the film that best explains biblical creation, best portray's family values, and best promotional video. The 2008 Best of Film Festival went to The Widow's Might a story about taxation without justification.
Two friends dream of stardom with the Western film they are making together when they learn that an elderly widow will lose her home because of the high property taxes in her area. The friends, together with their family and friends, decide to fight the system. The film's website explains: "Through political smears, on set mishaps, and a wild western ride, these families band together in a classic black hat/white hat tale of heroism!"
Preview from John Moore on Vimeo
Hollywood has weakly responded to the grass roots demand. More than half of all releases included "positive Christian characters" last year, up from just 6% in 1991, according to the Christian Film & Television Commission, in Camarillo, Calif., reports the Wall Street Journal.
But Christians seem to prefer to sever ties with Hollywood:
"I don't think they'll ever get it," NPR quotes one of the festival's attendees. "They will try to mimic it, but you can't mimic Christ. They'll never get the love part. They'll never get the forgiveness. They don't get any of that because they don't think they need it."
This is precisely the "different kind of surge" that Andrew Breitbart called for last July: "Perhaps we can wage a different kind of culture war - and not one directed by armchair generals from church pews in Virginia. We need to break out of this mind-set and send our best young minds to Hollywood."