FAITH, FILM, AND ACTIVISM: HIGH POINTS FROM THE 69TH BERLINALE
by Micah Bucey
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Micah Bucey mentions a few films from the BERLINALE and then he says:
“Finally, two of my favorite films of the festival, both in the Panorama section, which always features a buffet of surprises, are Australian director Rodd Rathjen’s Buoyancy and Hassan Fazili and Emelie Mahdavian’s Midnight Traveler. Both films, in very different ways, highlight the human realities at the heart of our most sensational news stories. Buoyancy interrogates the modern-day slave trade that undergirds most of our global fishing economy through the tale of one boy’s journey through the hell of enslavement aboard a Thai fishing trawler. Midnight Traveler documents, through only the footage captured on three smartphones, the harrowing migration of one family, as they flee persecution, only to be kept in limbo as they await passage to a new home. Both films are thrilling to sit through and continue to tickle the mind and heart long after their short running times.
This handful of examples doesn’t do justice to the creative and spiritual activism I saw on display in the 43 films I absorbed this year, but they lead the pack of politically-engaged art that embody the Berlinale’s most uniquely satisfying gift to culture. In many ways, films are our current shared sacred scripture, moving us through narrative to examine our spiritual and political convictions in ways that shock us out of complacency and despair and nudge us toward new prophetic visions. In a time when so much seems unbearable and unchangeable in our world, we gather around stories together, in community, and ask them what they have to tell us, what they want to do to us, where they want to send us next. By showing us the spiritual and political states of our world, many of the films at the Berlinale make an art of creating new paths forward. I couldn’t ask more of the movies and I couldn’t ask more of a church.”
Micah Bucey is a minister at New York City’s Judson Memorial Church and an avid film lover.