Saturday, October 22, 2005

War of the Worlds

My blogging partner, Old Fogey, noted in a very recent post that I'd been covering all the scandals pretty well recently. And while they've been numerous and plenty blog-worthy, I've been getting away from covering some of the other things that I like to focus on (environment, energy policy, Chelsea FC). Still, the material pretty much has been writing itself. Anyhoo, I'm going to try to balance some of the scandalrific coverage with some other items this weekend, starting with this rather interesting item about a new movie opening this weekend--but one you won't find in your megaplex--Left Behind: World at War. It's the latest movie adaptation of the Left Behind book series, where the rapture has happened and has left just the godless on earth behind to deal with Satan, who takes the guise of the Secretary General of the UN (I shit you negative). (I read the first of these books a couple years back, just to get a feel for them--it was written so simply, a third-grader could get the ballpeen-hammered nuances; suffice it to say, I didn't continue the torture.)

But Left Behind: World at War is taking an interesting route to distribution--it's going directly to DVD (the first two films didn't make much in theaters) and it will be shown in 3,000 churches nationwide. Here's a bit from the WaPo:

Twenty-five years ago, there were fewer than 50 churches in the United States that attracted more than 2,000 people each week. Today, there are more than 1,200. Many boast professional-quality sound systems, large-screen projection systems and comfortable seats that rival those of any commercial theater. Most also have bookstores or gift shops.

"I can't tell you how many times people ask me for my listing of megachurches so that they can try to sell stuff to them," said Scott L. Thumma, a professor at the Hartford Seminary in Connecticut who researches megachurches. He does not give out his mailing list.

In addition to about 150 megachurches across the country, hundreds of smaller congregations will show "World at War" this weekend. They include Reality Gospel Church in Alexandria, where the Rev. Richard Edgar expects to draw 300 viewers, twice his regular membership. Like most pastors across the nation, Edgar will not charge admission but will ask for an offering.

"We want to show Hollywood that there are enough people in the churches to support good, wholesome entertainment without all the blood and guts and sex and vile language," he said.

"But what about movies for the progressive community?" you ask. Umm, wouldn't that be every other hedonistic flesh fantasy/orgy of violence playing at the megaplex--like Wallace and Grommit? No! There's actually a progressive DVD club, called Ironweed, noted in this Tom Paine.com blog posting, and it looks like it's chock-full of liberally biased documentaries (exactly what Mrs. F rolls her eyes at when she sees my Netflix queue).

When you think about it, liberals have the same problem: Hollywood isn’t making movies for folks like us. It's the independent filmmakers who most often produce great commentary, art and journalism that challenges the viewer to actively consider a more just society. The difference is that, until now, liberals hadn't figured out how to distribute their stuff as effectively as conservatives do. Distribution is just as important as content, and without good distribution, the people creating those great documentaries fail to make a living doing it.

That's why we're excited about a new project called Ironweed. It’s a new progressive film club that’s aimed at establishing a distribution system—or, more accurately, a whole community—for quality, independent films.

We normally don’t give gratuitous promotional plugs like this, but we strongly encourage you to check out Ironweed. The idea is simple: Sign up for the club, and every month you'll get a DVD in the mail. You’ll find “underdog films” that major Hollywood studios avoid. The DVD is yours to keep, share with friends or pass along to other progressive thinkers. If you play along, we all can help push these films into mainstream distribution.


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