Thursday, April 10, 2008

FEATURE: Daniel Karslake and For The Bible Tells Me So

As published in The Technician:

The Film Studies program sponsored a screening last Monday night of the award-winning documentary film For The Bible Tells Me So. The screening was held in cooperation with the Full Frame film festival, which concluded in Durham over the weekend.

The film follows five Christian families and how each responds to the realization that one of their children is gay. It also contains interviews with several prominent religious figures about different interpretations of biblical passages commonly used to condemn homosexuality. Director Daniel Karslake was present at the screening and described the film's examination of faith and sexuality as something he personally related to in his own spiritual life.

"It was actually my faith, ironically, that brought me out of the closet and made me really acknowledge who I was," Karslake said. "Most of the time it's the faith background of gay and lesbian kids that drives them toward suicide and suppressing it."

The audience at the screening consisted of about 70 people, some of whom were students. Afterward, the writer-director participated in a brief Q&A with the crowd.

"I think it was very well received," Karslake said. "Very few people left for the Q&A, and that's always a good sign. … Unless someone says, 'OK, last question,' people could stay forever and talk about this."

In the film, Karslake attempts to bridge the gap between conservative Christian doctrine about homosexuality with real-life stories of religious families that come to accept their gay children. It's a message he said he believes needs to be spread in order to heal the emotional wounds many homosexuals have retained due to negative encounters with religion.

"I get e-mails all the time from gay and lesbian people of all ages who really were in their last weeks before killing themselves and happened to see the film, and have come away actually liking Christians," Karslake said. "It's all about conversation. Silence on this topic is so damaging."

Overall, the audience responded favorably to the film. One of the students present at the screening was Cristina Wase, a senior in social work.

"There was obviously a lot of passion put into it," Wase said. "There was a lot of talk about reading Scripture in context, and I agree 100 percent with that."

Leah Horton, a senior in social work, said she found the film's message corresponded with that of her faith.

"The director stated the film was about transformation," Horton said. "From what I read in the Bible, the Bible is about transformation, too."

The event was supervised by Marsha Orgeron, an assistant professor and director of the film studies program.

"I think it is an incredible opportunity any time students get the opportunity to talk to a director, ask questions and be in the room with someone who's created this thing that we all consume," Orgeron said. "To have that one-on-one opportunity is very rare."


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