I wonder if any you enjoy watching films? If you don’t, then I suppose you can just skip ahead to the end of this letter and just take the blessing. If you do, then I wonder what type of film you like best – comedy; drama; action; romantic; bio-pic; non-fiction? The list goes on and on.
I love film. I love stories, and I always have loved stories, and film is a very engaging way to portray them, at least, in my opinion.
Recently I read a headline that went something like this: “Exposing Benefits Britain – how Ken Loach’s new film ‘I, Daniel Blake’ reduced Cannes to tears.”
The article explained that this new film is a story about a man whose heart condition renders him unable to work, but he finds himself up against an intractable system that demands he either works or starves. Apparently, the audience at the Cannes Film Festival were moved to tears by the film’s subject matter. I haven’t yet seen it myself, (not released here yet), but it’s certainly on my list.
This type of film is from a type of film-making called social realist. Loach often uses ‘real people’ alongside professional actors, (not that actors aren’t real people, but I don’t want to imply that the others aren’t actors because they are), people who may have experienced the sort of lives they portray. His films often hit hard, but they can also be very funny and life-affirming.
Social Realism can be a form of modern day parable. Just like the stories Jesus told, the parable starts with real people in real situations. Sometimes it can be hard to understand what the parable is about, but if you return to it and keep returning, you can find real truth there.
I have no idea what Ken Loach thinks of Jesus, but I find his films challenging, truthful and enlightening. The world needs more storytellers like him.
As followers of Jesus, we are called to play our part in the Great Story, the story of God’s love for God’s people. We don’t have be film-makers; or great speakers; we can do as St Francis advised, “Go and preach the Gospel; if necessary, use words.”