28 / 03 / 22
By Nick McDonald
The 94th Academy Awards took place last night and with films such as The Eyes of Tammy Faye, Belfast, The Power of the Dog and Best Picture Winner, CODA, exploring themes such as faith and belief, the silver screen has been a big topic at F&BF. Movies can hold so much power, from representing minority faiths, to sharing stories from history, to exploring different aspects of our identities. They are undeniable tool in how we view the world, including different faiths and identities within, both for the best – and sometimes, for the worst.
To celebrate the biggest night in Hollywood, our team are sharing some of our favourite movies on the themes of faith, belief, religion, interfaith, identity, and beyond. These pictures range from historical dramas, to romantic comedies, to animated favourites – with even more diversity (and less controversy) than Oscars have..
So get your popcorn ready and read below to hear some interfaith-y movie suggestions and why they mean so much to us!
Pride (2014) is based on the true story of a group of lesbian and gay activists who raised money to help families affected by the British miners’ strike in 1984, forming the Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners campaign. Chosen by F&BF’s Director, Phil says that this movie reminds him to realise there are “connections we might not expect”, and that we must learn to “not make assumptions” based on people’s identities and backgrounds.
Themes: intersectionality, complex identities, gender, sexuality, friendship, LGBT.
The Passion of the Christ (2004), chosen by Philip, is perhaps the most famous religious movie of all time, portraying the final stages of in life of Jesus Christ. It is a good movie if you want to learn about one perception of the story of Jesus or to reconnect with it.
Themes: Christianity, love, hope, faith, forgiveness.
PK (2014) tells the story of an alien visiting Earth, who begins to question and explore the religious identities, dogmas and superstitions of the humans it witnesses. Raahim chose this film as it “challenges assumptions of different religions” and is a good movie to show young people, when teaching them about different faith identities.
Themes: Religion, faith, challenging stereotypes, discovery, curiosity.
Kingdom of Heaven (2005) depicts the story of a French blacksmith who goes to fight for the Kingdom of Jerusalem during the Crusades. This film is important to Mahmooda as she feels it portrayed Muslims in a positive light – something that is not often seen in film and TV, especially when it is regarding the Crusades.
Themes: Harmony, peacekeeping, war, religion, interfaith.
Kung Fu Panda (2008) is an animated action movie, following a panda who is chosen as the prophesied ‘Dragon Warrior’ and to become a master of kung-fu. Caiyle felt that this movie has a good message of “what will be, will be” and that we can’t always fight change.
Themes: Family, faith, greatness, self-doubt, strength.
Hunger (2008) recounts the events of the 1981 Irish hunger strike, during the Troubles. Harriet selected this movie as it “challenged” the perceptions she had of the conflicts growing up, and allowed her to gain a new insight to these events.
Themes: Catholic identities, mental health, martyrdom, morality.
Moonlight (2016) follows the story of a black man throughout different stages of his life, exploring the difficulties he faces due to his sexuality, and the abuse he receives growing up. Nick described this movie as “deeply powerful” and exploring many important, often underrepresented, topics such as the intersections between black and LGBT identities.
Themes: Sexuality, toxic masculinity, race, vulnerability, black identities.
The Battle of Algiers (1966) reconstructs events undertaken by rebels during the Algerian War against the French government in North Africa, including the eponymous Battle of Algiers. Ben selected this movie as it taught him a lot about colonialism, but also showed the complexities of both sides and that not is everything is as ‘black and white’ as it may seem.
Themes: War, colonialism, freedom, self-determination.
Keeping the Faith (2000) is a romcom depicting two best friends, a priest and a rabbi, who fall in love with the same woman but their religious identities denies the romance. This was one of Rachel’s favourite movies growing up, with many fond memories attached to it!
Themes: Religion, faith, identity, intermarriage, romance, friendship.
Stand by Me (1986) follows the tale of a group of young boys who find the body of a teenager whilst hiking. Despite a dark topic, the movie depicts friendships and the coming-of-age.
Themes: Friendship, adulthood, identity, journeys, struggles, resilience.
Hidden Figures (2016) tells the story of three brilliant African-American women at NASA in the 1960s, the brains behind the launch of the first American astronaut to orbit the Earth. It is a powerful film, but a sad reminder of how black people did not – and still don’t – receive the praise they deserve for hard work, and the racism and segregation they lived through.
Themes: Race, racism, sexism, opportunity, knowing your worth, science.
Little Women (2019) is based on the iconic novel of the same name by Louisa May Alcott, showcasing the lives of the four March sisters, and differences in their personalities and the paths they take. Jess took away a few important messages from this film, including the “idea that charity starts at home”, “the importance of being a good neighbour” and that “faith is doing, not saying”.
Themes: Family, social justice, poverty, work, sacrifice.
The Body (2001) follows the tale of Jesuit priest who is sent to Jerusalem to investigate an archaeologic finding which is suspected to be the remains of the body of Jesus Christ – putting his own faith into question. Sorcha felt the film strongly explored the ongoing ‘theology v practice’ debate, amongst other important topics.
Themes: Theology v practice, faith, belief, doubt, Israel-Palestine, truth.