To paraphrase Fr. Jason Vidrine (of Our Lady of Wisdom Catholic Church in Lafayette, Louisiana), a hallmark of the Catholic Church is that it spreads the Gospel through culture as opposed to other forms of evangelization. The history of the Church shows this—it has been integral to the development of the sciences, literature, and arts, among other aspects of social progress.
One area of today’s culture in particular that the Church has a wonderful opportunity to use as a tool for spreading its light is film. Whether we like it or not, movies are often more influential on people’s lives than literature is, and it is therefore time to step up and establish a current Catholic presence in the film industry. We can look to directors like Frank Capra as excellent examples of how film can be used to propogate and model morality, but I believe that this society needs more movies that show a Catholic viewpoint about the sundry moral issues that affect us today. (Though I appreciate Mel Gibson’s forays into making Catholic films, I am of the opinion that modern settings are also needed in order to address problems today’s Catholics and non-Catholics face. Also, his unfortunate reputation is a bit of an obstacle to making much of a statement to those who label him, correctly or incorrectly, as being antisemitic.)
I was therefore thrilled to hear of a group of young filmmakers who are releasing a project that addresses abortion from a Catholic perspective. The name of this movie is Bella. It is not a documentary or graphic depiction of abortion, rather, it is a love story between an unmarried pregnant woman and a former soccer superstar who now works as a chef in a Mexican restaurant. Though I haven’t seen it, I am confident in its quality, as it won the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto Film Festival, the Crystal Heart Award at the Heartland Film Festival, and was an official selection at no less than eight other film festivals. The movie opens in select cities over the next two weekends, and its reception at these venues will dictate whether or not it is released around the country. (The Passion of the Christ went through the same process—hopefully Bella will do as well as the Passion did!) I wholeheartedly encourage everyone to research the movie (the website is below) and plan to see it, if possible. If it is not possible for you to see it now, please encourage friends who are closer to a city it is showing in to see it! Catholicism needs to be established in film as it has been in literature and art, and now is the time to make it happen.
The website for Bella:
An article on Frank Capra’s Catholic vision:
An interesting discussion between Thomas Woods, author of “How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization” and various critics/questioners:http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/discussion/2005/05/23/DI2005052300939.html