Thursday, July 5, 2012
Was invited to a screening of a biopic on the Apostle Paul called A Polite Bribe by filmmaker Robert Orlando.
For as long as I can remember, I've attended bible study classes; not continuously and never formally at a University or College, but regularly through a church. Sadly and disgracefully, I retain very little and can regurgitate nothing. In recent years, I tend to go not for religious instruction, or spiritual learning, but more for historical interest.
Which is the perspective of A Polite Bribe. Told through chiaroscuro animation, a style which features a single light source, Orlando focuses on a man who possessed unwaveringly resilience and determination. Paul's mission to form a Jewish/Gentile Church, where everyone broke bread at the same table, was not a popular idea. His message often invoked dangerous opposition or at times, fell on deaf ears. Whether Paul's determination and faith is due to his encounter with the spirit of Jesus in the desert or was just this guy's personality, is not important to the filmmaker. His interest is in telling Paul's story -- although he doesn't go into the fact that Paul was first known as Saul, and there's no mention of his being blinded and restored to sight by Ananias of Damascus, which is an important part of his story told in Acts.
A large part of the film's focus is Paul's travels throughout the regions of his epistles; his inability to win over any of the original 12 Apostles; and his obsession to bring "a collection", money to the leading Jews of the Temple in order to sway them to accepting Gentiles into the fold.
Cinedelphia sat down with Robert Orlando for an interview:
The audience had many questions following the screening, which Orlando continued answering out in the lobby. Click to view excerpts of A Polite Bribe Q &A on YouTube
RO: It started with what I call my “three act life”, growing up Catholic, and having an interest when I was in my teens. There was actually a Christian club at SVA I remember, where you get to ask the big questions and I was there for a while, not to convert, but more existential questions about what to do with the art. So at first it was curiosity, then the second act was I found I was asking so many questions that it started to interfere with my life so I had to take it a little more serious and I went to classes at graduate school and started to take it apart and study all the critical scholarship, from a historical perspective. My focus was to be technical, I was a Paul scholar in the Greco-Roman setting. But after many years of that I kind of moved out of the faith and looked at it as more intellectual - Interviewer Mark Crowell - Read Full interview
|Philly preview screening at Ritz East|
What was most enjoyable to me was that I invited my Aunt along for this screening. She reads the Bible daily, but more passage by passage, seeking instruction and increased faith; but knows very little about background & history. She told me later in the week how much seeing the film helped when reading the Letters of Paul. She appreciated this new foundation with which to bring to her study.