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You prepare for an interview by thinking up a list of questions; you only need one or two good ones, and the conversation takes care of itself. But the person being interviewed has certain points they want to get across, regardless of your questions. They may have been reiterating these same points into different microphones a dozen times a day.

In this case, I wanted to ask Vera Farmiga, director and star of Higher Ground (opening in limited release on Friday), about the portrayal of the Christian church in the film. It's more affectionate and positive than the stereotypes we often see; it's notably more positive even than the presentation of this community in the Carolyn Briggs memoir that preceded the movie. At Sundance, Farmiga said she had earlier spent three years with the project and then backed off because she didn't feel right about the way the faith community was being depicted. I wanted to hear more about that.

But Farmiga wanted to talk about the inherent struggle that accompanies a search for God; she sees the film as being an honest representation of the experience shared by adherents of any and every kind of faith, everyone who knows those "I won't let go until you bless me" moments. Here's how our conversation went.

Whenever evangelical Christians hear there's a movie coming out that includes a depiction of evangelicals, they get nervous, because it is so often negative.

Understandably so. I get it. I understand that defensiveness or fear.

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August 2011

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