The children who go to Becky Fischer's Kids on Fire summer camp may be too young to vote, but they're hardly politically unaware. In addition to the usual praise and worship at their Pentecostal services, the children offer prayers for President George W. Bush—by actually laying hands on a life-size cardboard cut-out—and burst into tears while asking God to fill the U.S. Supreme Court with "righteous judges."
Jesus Camp, a new documentary about Fischer's camp, opens this week in several U.S. cities, and will expand in the weeks ahead. The film made news last month when Magnolia Pictures acquired distribution rights to the film and tried to have it yanked at the last minute from Michael Moore's Traverse City Film Festival; the distributor said it wanted conservative evangelicals to see the film, and did not want the film to be tainted in their eyes by association with a liberal like Moore.
Similarly, filmmakers Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady—whose previous film, the award-winning The Boys of Baraka, concerned inner-city kids from Baltimore who attend a school in Africa—say they say they have tried to be as objective as possible with Jesus Camp, and to let the campers and the film's other characters speak for themselves. These include National Association of Evangelicals president Ted Haggard and liberal Christian talk-show host Mike Papantonio; Fischer herself has already endorsed the film.
The filmmakers spoke to Christianity Today Movies from their office in New York City.
You seem to have a thing for movies about precocious kids.
Ewing: Kids are great subjects, because they're honest and they're extremely candid, and usually they are not as self-conscious when it comes to the camera. It's not just that ...1