Atheists find a new venue for the godless: on film


Thanks to Quine for the link

There were no red carpets, no paparazzi, no celebrities and definitely no God at the recent annual Atheist Film Festival.

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.

Written By: Kimberly Winston
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  1. I went to this in SF last week and had a great time. It filled up more later in the afternoon and evening, and the audience cheered many parts. It was fun having some of the film makers there to explain what they had to go through to get some of these made. I got to ask the writer of Invention of Lying how he got that great cast, and he said Ricky Gervais simply got on the phone and called his friends.

    We have had threads, here, on several of the films shown:

    It would be great to have people in cities all over the world act locally to organize events like this one. I hope to meet my friends in SF, again next year.

  2. As you say, Quine, it would be great if such fetivals took place all round the world, but sadly that can’t happen. There are only too many countries where the law of the land would prevent it, and the Evil Atheists would go to jail.

  3. Well, there are plenty of places where it can happen… and there are places that are on the way to theocracy that would likely be greatly helped by such an event. That’s apart from underground gatherings, though it might be better to exchange files to watch individually and discuss later in that context.

  4. Thanks RDF for this great post. I just watched In God We Teach, it was fantastic, I recommend it. In fact I enjoyed it so much I emailed the following to the film maker.

    Hi Vic

    Thanks for a terrific documentary, it means a lot to me when film makers take the risk to employ their talents and valuable resources for what really matters.

    You captured beautifully, the folly of the religious arguments made by the ridiculous David Paszkiewicz. Throughout the film my bullshit meter slammed hard right through the red-zone so many times when he spoke I just had to write and thank you for bringing his poison to the public sphere.

    My BS meter went into meltdown at this statement where we get a front-row seat into his self-deluding mind:

    ” I don’t believe my religious beliefs trump the constitution but I do believe that the word of god does, and of course god has some pretty explicit things to say about obeying government authorities as well.”

    Holey Crap!

    In other words, he doesn’t believe his religion trumps the constitution, but the word of his god does. Umm…that would be the religion wouldn’t it? You know, the religion that he believes in that does not trump the constitution except for when his religion is the word of god then it does trump the constitution which is the whole religion so he is saying his religion does not trump the constitution except that it does! (phew!..I need a rest now)

    That slippery spin reminded me of what I once heard Judge Judy say that went something like this: ” When an adult is telling you something and that something does not make any sense – its a lie!” Now, I’m not convinced DP was lying to the camera, but I do think his religious brain is lying to whatever remains of his reasoning brain.

    It is my deepest wish that David Paszkiewicz watches this film repeatedly until his own BS meter is finally engaged.

    Good Bless The United States!
    Tony xxxx
    Sydney, Australia

  5. “His main criteria for including a film is that it shows at least one atheist figure in a positive light.”

    I have been yearning for movies and TV shows like that for years. The Atheists-as-troubled people-who-“hate God because they blame him for their problems”-cliche is getting really old. I remember how refreshing it was to watch Star Trek Enterprise, where the main hero’s Agnostic views were portrayed in a positive light (sure, he wasn’t an Atheist, but I’ll take it).

    Come to think of it, have there been any mainstream blockbuster movies (or TV shows) where the main character was an Atheist (not Agnostic) and his/her philosophy somehow contributed to a positive outcome?

  6.  “I remember how refreshing it was to watch Star Trek Enterprise, where the main hero’s Agnostic views were portrayed in a positive light…”
    Are you talking about Cpt. Archer? Didn’t pick up on that, but in my defense, I was only 10 years old. Absolutely loved the opening theme though: images of our own achievements in space, extrapolated to the future and all accompanied by Rod Stewart’s ‘Faith of the Heart’. 

  7. “Are you talking about Cpt. Archer?”

    Exactly, when asked about his religious beliefs his reply was “I’d like to keep an open mind”. I’m not a die hard Star Trek fan or anything, but I really liked how the Enterprise and Next Generation series (which I watched as a kid and whose main character was also Agnostic) portrayed non-religiousness as an advanced way of thinking.

  8. Bones is one of my favorites. Its stars an atheist forensic anthropologist. 
    I havent watched all episodes, just hoping she doesnt have some “awakening” at some point or i will be very very disappointed. 
    As for the festival, would love something like this in my area. The Berlinale would probably also be a great place, its a very open minded place and already lots of independent movies.

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