Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Jesus Camp gets an Oscar Nom

I've been dying to see the newest documentary film by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady (makers of The Boys of Baraka) called Jesus Camp, which exposes the strange and frightening world of evangelical "summer camps" for kids. Here's the description from the film's website:
"A growing number of Evangelical Christians believe there is a revival underway in America that requires Christian youth to assume leadership roles in advocating the causes of their religious movement. Jesus Camp follows a group of young children to Pastor Becky Fischer's "Kids on Fire Summer Camp", where kids are taught to become dedicated Christian soldiers in God's army and are schooled in how to take back America for Christ. The film is a first-ever look into an intense training ground that recruits born-again Christian children to become an active part of America's political future."

The filmmakers were interviewed last night on The Hour, which you can watch here. The film and the phenomena it studies sound absolutely fascinating. Watching the trailer and seeing those tiny kids driven into religious hysteria would make anyone's skin crawl, but the growth of the movement and concerted expansion into younger and younger age groups demands the attention of anyone with an interest in children's culture. While the Evangelists remain a minority, especially within Canada (and despite reported figures of its spread, I refuse to believe that this type of extremism could ever attract a majority of Americans), their impact is felt throughout North American culture and society. The film will be out on video Jan.31st, and I will definitely be checking it out.

In other news, the Animated Film category is once again dominated by high-budget but unimaginative computer-animated productions from the contemporary "Big Three" in American animation: Cars (Disney), Monster House (Sony), and Happy Feet (Warner Bros.). My money's on Happy Feet to win.

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