Film festival asks deep questions about the soul

The Searching for Soul Film Festival offered an introspective take on the human spirit.


Courtesy of Cinema and Media Arts Department

Tyler Davis, Writer

Films are a big part of the Biola community. This university attracts many aspiring filmmakers because of its mission to make truly great films that contain a Christian worldview. Biola’s film program hosted the Searching For Soul Film Festival on Oct. 13. The festival consisted of three movies, two documentaries and one feature film, “Cold Souls,” which starred Oscar award-winning actor Paul Giamatti.

The festival was put together by the cinema and media arts department, headed up by Dr. Gerald Fisher, in conjunction with the Center for Christian Thought as a means of expanding on the Center’s theme this year: neuroscience and the soul. In addition to the three main features, three short films also explored the theme. “Time Freak” was Oscar-nominated and the documentary “Heart Stop Beating” is about the first human to live without a heartbeat. “The Maker” rounded out the short film list.

Panel discussions were held after every film and the directors of the two feature documentaries video chatted from Europe to answer audience questions. Other panelists included professors and other Biola affiliates, facilitating a conversation similar to last year’s IRIS interterm course.

Additionally, this is the second festival in a three-part series. Last year’s Searching for Sanctuary hit things off with a bang and Searching for Soul explores the self with the same vigor as the prior festival voyaged through the idea of sacred space. The next theme will be psychology.

As for the features, the first was called “Welcome to the Machine,” a film looking at technology in a theological context. The director takes the audience on a journey, starting at the in-vitro birth of his children, and going through different inventions and their effects on the world.

The second film, called “Tea or Electricity,” follows Belgian filmmaker Jérôme Le Maire as he documents a remote village in Morocco being brought electricity for the first time. The villagers are as skeptical as they are excited about this notion and Le Maire depicts their first experience with electricity as a part of daily life.

Finally, “Cold Souls” is a science fiction film following an actor whose emotional problems often get in the way of his job. Because of this, he decides to try a new service called Soul Storage. The service offers the option for the user to have their soul removed temporarily and stored safely in a facility, supposedly relieving the user of all their previous burdens.

Michael Gonzales, a CMA professor at Biola, spoke about the impact he hopes this film festival had on students.

“I think the big takeaway is that we will walk away from these films asking the tougher questions — questions like, what are our responsibilities as Christians?” Gonzales said. “When Scripture talks about being a light unto the world, I believe film technology is a way we can be a light, and I think that’s awesome.” 

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