It has been an incredibly busy three days! There is so much to do, so much to see, and many people to meet. It has been a whirlwind, an enjoyable disorientation, and an amazing opportunity to spend time with Reel Spirituality colleagues. The amazing Andrew Neel and Chris Lopez, both of whom have been at Sundance before, are great company! Apart from the low temperatures, I have experienced the environment of the festival as an interesting mix of friendly confusion, great discussions, excitement, encouraged film-geeking, and gratitude towards the incredibly patient shuttle drivers and volunteers.
Burden: The Modern Good Samaritan
On the cinematic front, I attended my first Sundance screening on Tuesday, and it was an incredibly convicting and moving experience. The film I watched is Burden, which was produced by Robbie Brenner and written and directed by Andrew Heckle. It portrays the story of a man who leaves his membership in the Ku Kux Klan for, and aided by, love.
Writer-director Andrew Heckle stated in an interview, “Audiences today are ready to hear this story, and hear it with all its brutal, bare truth. Ultimately, this is a story about acceptance and forgiveness. We try to tell a story, words and all, about a guy who has been brought up with a lot of self-hatred. Through that, the easiest way for you to make yourself feel better is by making someone else feel bad.” Heckle’s exploration of the human condition, and a specifically American painful condition, is direct, explicit and yet hopeful. This is a film twenty years in the making, and it could not have come at a more opportune time.
Burden is an amazingly raw, relevant, poignant, and redeeming revelation based on a true story. It portrays life-changing relationships driven by a conscious and intentional, if at times, hard-to-live love. It is a modern portrayal of the story we find in Luke 10:25-37, The Good Samaritan. This story fleshes out what it might take to be a good Samaritan, especially as we are called to care for those who have been our enemies.
The love Jesus calls us to is the kind in which we love our neighbors as much as we love our selves, even when they are our enemies. It is the kind that causes wood splinters to dig into our backs from the cross we have committed to carry everyday, the kind of love where we put our selves on the line for others. This is a cinematic echo of the good news of Christ. This film is a portrayal of the Gospel incarnate. Burden calls us to an active, radical, dangerous, reckless kind of love.