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Faith and Film Festival

Due to concerns about the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, the on-campus 2021 Faith and Film Festival has been canceled. Stay tuned for more information about a virtual festival Jan. 28-30, 2021. Our next on-campus festival is set for Jan. 27-29, 2022. Thank you for your understanding.

Jan. 27-29, 2022

Concordia Seminary’s annual Faith and Film Festival is a gathering to screen and ponder Christian themes in contemporary cinema. Geared toward people interested in film and theology, the festival serves as an opportunity for participants to explore Christian themes in movies and develop eyes to see film in new ways. Participants will spend three days viewing films, hearing from theologians, pastors and film critics, and engaging in challenging discussions about the ways in which the themes of redemption, reconciliation, mercy, grace and more are embedded in film.

Movies are the vernacular of our time. This gives Christians a unique opportunity to love our neighbors by applying our knowledge of the narrative of God to these popular modern stories — film. Unfortunately, many Christians opt out and reject all but the most simplistic, church-sanctioned titles. This creates an even greater divide between the sinners inside the church and those outside of the church — a divide we can begin to bridge by learning to see film through a new lens.

Festival attendees will view a predetermined number of films. Following each film, a discussion moderator will encourage a deep dive into the film’s themes.

Continuing Education credits are available.

This is a limited seating event.

Disclaimer: This festival is for adults only.


Heather Choate Davis is an L.A.-based writer, speaker, creative director and co-creator of the Faith and Film Festival. She wrote screenplays long before she read Scripture or earned her Master of Arts in theology from Concordia University, Irvine, Calif. Coming full circle, her vocation now includes tearing down walls between the church and the culture with projects like these.

Dr. Philip Hohle is the author of The Filmmaker's Prayer and Lenses, and a member of the Society for the Cognitive Study of the Moving Image. He created the course "Cinema and Religion" (with Jacob Youmans) at Concordia University Texas, Austin, which he now co-leads at the movie-theater-based ACTS Church Lakeline. He is a professor at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor.

Rev. Joel Kurz is an essayist and poet who serves as pastor of Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Warrensburg, Mo. Growing up as the son of missionary parents in the Philippines attuned him to the wideness and intimacy of beauty, human need and divine mercy — what stuns him in the best of films. His work has appeared in The Cresset, Weavings, Lutheran Forum, Sojourners and more.

Rev. David Lewis is assistant professor of Exegetical Theology at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis and is currently finishing his dissertation. His passion for films is captured in the essay, "Cinema and the American Mind," (The American Mind Meets the Mind of Christ). Having a film festival on campus has long been a dream of his.

Abby Olcese is a Kansas City-based writer who focuses on the intersection of faith, culture and social responsibility. Raised on Narnia, Bob Dylan and Monty Python, she is drawn to the weird, the nerdy and the profound corners of popular culture alike. Her writing has appeared in Sojourners, Think Christian, Birth. Movies. Death., /Film and more.

Dr. Timothy Saleska is a professor of Exegetical Theology and the dean of Ministerial Formation at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. He thinks of watching movies as a moral activity that helps us empathize with others, and has a deep appreciation for films that stir us to contemplate the mysteries of grace and redemption at work in the world.

Dr. Travis Scholl is managing editor of theological publications at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis and the author of Walking the Labyrinth. He sometimes wonders if he will ever again witness a film as beautiful as "A River Runs Through It," which also happens to be, in his opinion, the only movie that is just slightly better than its marvelous book.

Rev. Jacob Wampfler is the pastor of Faith Lutheran Church in Topeka, Kan., the co-host of the Cinema Bros podcast, an Army veteran, a Topeka Top-20-Under-40 nominee and the co-creator of the Faith and Film Festival. His love for film began as a young movie theater projectionist. He believes that we can see Jesus everywhere, especially in film.

Dr. Michael Zeigler is the 10th Speaker of The Lutheran Hour, the world's longest running Christ-centered radio broadcast, and co-hosts "Speaking of Jesus," a conversational podcast about life centered on the story of Jesus. His book, Christian Hope Among Rivals (2017), explores the power of story to set up, upset and set in hope. He enjoys watching this power on display in film.

Plus, special film-specific guest panelists will be revealed at the event.

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