APU's Faith and Film Festival an Almighty Success

by Daniel Fritz '04

“I teach about Jesus everyday through the art,” said film director Tom Shadyac at APU’s second annual Faith and Film Festival. Shadyac, whose directing credits include Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, Liar, Liar, The Nutty Professor, and Bruce Almighty, was surely the attention-grabber that evening, though he wasn’t the only one who shed insight onto the eager group of students. In addition to Communication Studies and Cinema and Broadcast Arts (CBA) faculty, a variety of directors, cinematographers, writers, and producers delivered lectures on the truth and intricacies of their profession throughout the day's event.

After a screening at the Foothill Theater of Shadyac’s most recent film, Bruce Almighty, a majority of students headed back to Munson Chapel for a question and answer session with the director. Due to the lucid religious content of the film, many students were eager to experience not only the paradigm of a Christian secular film creator, but an explanation of questionable content within Bruce Almighty and past films.

APU faculty member and mediator, Thom Parham, Ph.D., assistant professor of communication studies, introduced Shadyac to the audience, and began with a series of questions focusing mainly on such controversies as entertainment and humor versus appropriate Christian behavior and standards, and how to achieve without upsetting the boundaries. “What makes something funny?” asked Parham. “When you laugh,” Shadyac replied. “I think Christians have a hard time with humor because they can be so un-fun,” Shadyac said with a chuckle.

Following the questions from Parham, the floor opened for questions from the audience. Students asked Shadyac a variety of questions: some biographical, some philosophical, and some touching on the paradox between Shadyac’s film content and his personal beliefs. As an admitted literature buff, Shadyac responded to a number of the questions by drawing on the wisdom of those before him; others he answered through simple honest insight and logic. “Hearing what Shadyac had to say gave me inspiration in continuing to pursue my dreams,” said student Holly Simpson, '04. In response to the question of why there is no mention of Jesus in Bruce Almighty, Shadyac responded, “What happened in the movie happened for a reason. Because Jesus is so religiously specific, I exclusively used God so that this film could be relevant to people outside of Christianity.”

The crowd’s positive response to Shadyac’s words were evident in the standing ovation at the conclusion of the event. “Having someone of his stature here raises the profile of the campus and gives a clear demonstration of the up and coming CBA program,” said Warren Koch, Ph.D., assistant professor of communication studies. “Shadyac tells it like it is. It’s really refreshing and energizing.”