Instead, there were more than a dozen films, long and short, about separation of church and state, freedom of religion (and no religion), the conflict between science and religion in public schools and a couple hundred people eager to see them.
“If we don’t do this, who will? said festival organizer Dave Fitzgerald, as people picked up atheist-themed books and T-shirts at the Aug. 10-11 festival. “Atheists are not well-represented by Hollywood, and a lot of people don’t get any exposure to real atheist thought except through things like this.”
Fitzgerald, who calls himself “a freelance heretic,” started the festival four years ago. His main criteria for including a film is that it shows at least one atheist figure in a positive light.
“My motto is: Are they heretic friendly?” Fitzgerald said. “We are in a position where we can actually turn away movies because their hearts might be in the right place but they may be stilted and preachy.”
The first festival started small, with films Fitzgerald rented from Netflix. It moved around the city’s smaller art houses, attracting more viewers each year, with some coming from out of state, Fitzgerald said. Last year, the festival added a VIP reception and welcomed directors to discuss their films after the screenings. About 250 people attended.