Regent University issues "artistic guidelines" for student films after Robertson walkout
Last spring, Regent University chancellor and founder Pat Robertson was so upset with student-produced films that he walked out of the school's film festival.
"We are supposed to represent the Lord," Robertson said in October. Some students' use of dark satire was "horrible" and "inappropriate," he said. "If we go into this black stuff … I don't think that exactly pleases the Lord." It's okay to portray degradation, he said, but not to glorify it.
Even The Virginian-Pilot had some reservations about the films, calling one a "dark, dark comedy that takes no prisoners [and] goes too far to prove that it's tough and dark."
Now, for the first time in the 25-year history of Regent's Department of Cinema-Television and Theatre Arts, the school is issuing "artistic guidelines" for filmmaking.
"We're not here to censor," Robert J. Schihl, dean of Regent's School of Communications, told The Virginian-Pilot. "We've had this freedom here, and it remains. But maybe we have an obligation to mature Christian students to talk about their developing attitudes of what should be shown to the general public." Schihl says the guidelines aren't in response to Robertson's anger.
The guidelines won't directly ban such items as nudity and cussing, but will quote scriptural imperatives such as "prudence, not offending fellow Christians, and glorifying God in all endeavors," says the newspaper.
Michelle Selk, a doctoral candidate in film studies at Regent who co-produced the film festival, isn't happy. "I don't think you can tell a person what is and isn't art," she said. "The concept of artistic guidelines doesn't work for me. … Last year's [film festival] showed there are Christian film artists who don't want to tell those easy stories" that reflect a "Pollyannaish" worldview, she said. "You're a storyteller and artist first, and because you are a Christian, your faith will be reflected in your work."
Nigeria arrests man for selling Christian apocalyptic film
Nigeria's National Film and Video Censors Board has pressed charges against video seller John Ani for selling an illegal film banned for being "offensive." Was it pornography? Ultraviolent? Nope. Rapture I and II, created by Nigerian Pentecostal evangelist Helen Ukapabio, was banned because it "denigrated another Christian religious faith."
"The said producer did a film in which she was portraying another religious sect as anti-Christ, as immoral, insulting another religious sect," explained Roseline Odeh, executive director of the censors board. "You can differ from another religious sect but don't mock them, don't create room for quarrel. … No filmmaker has a right to insult or be disrespectful to any other religious sect because religion is a very sensitive thing, especially where the Bible or the Koran is used inappropriately."
Ukapabio had submitted her film to the board but reportedly refused to cut the offending scenes. Instead, she forged an approval certification and rating.
Nigeria's film business is worth keeping an eye on, Time Europe reported last year. In 2000, the censors board released 650 movies—four times the films it did in 1995. In 2002, the number may have climbed to nearly 1,000. "The next Jackie Chan or John Woo may now be honing his skills on Nigeria's video screens."
And it's up to the censors to determine the direction those films take. Here's their vision, as articulated by public relations manager Caesar Kagho: "When Nigerian movie makers must have evolved from this present genre of witchcraft and debauchery, after all the money seekers, wife and husband snatchers, ritual killers, and the rest have finally gone extinct like the dinosaurs, will fresh blood be injected into the system, and our children's children will begin to enjoy and grow up to know the thrill of entertainment embedded in movies."
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