Film festivals give an opportunity for filmmakers to display some of their more exotic and creative, if not commercially viable, artistic works. I have often enjoyed small films with unknown actors, low budgets and off-off Hollywood. The 17th Philadelphia Film Festival is in progress and is featuring an Iranian film, “Jesus, the Spirit of God”. I have not seen this film, but I suspect that we will hear more about it. It is in Persian with English sub-titles. The film portrays Jesus from the Muslim perspective which includes the belief that it was not Jesus who was crucified, but Judas. The title, “Jesus, the Spirit of God”, is in itself a telling diversion. Interesting.
TEHRAN Times --
Acclaimed movie “Jesus, the Spirit of God” directed by Nader Talebzadeh was screened at the Cinema of the Muslim Worlds section of the 17th Philadelphia Film Festival on Friday.
“Jesus, the Spirit of God” which is in Persian with English subtitles was screened on Saturday for the second time and its third day program will be on Monday.
According to American critic Raymond Murray, “Jesus, the Spirit of God” is one of the more unusual entries in this year’s festival.
“Jesus, the Spirit of God” is an Iranian drama on the life and works of Jesus Christ as recounted in the scriptures of the Holy Quran. The result is a serious, non-polemical and thought-provoking look at the man who Christians revere as the Son of God, and Muslims see as a holy man sent to the Earth to announce the coming of the Prophet Muhammad (S).
“The film seeks to find the common ground among Christians and Muslims. Director Nader Talebzadeh sees his movie as an Islamic answer to Western productions like Mel Gibson’s ‘The Passion of the Christ’, a film he has publicly praised but sees as quite simply ‘wrong’. This is especially evident in the film as it depicts the Muslim belief that Jesus was not crucified, but rather it was Judas who was hung on the cross. The film presents Jesus with a fair complexion and dark blond hair, and his preaching is recounted in a serious fashion.”
“Jesus, the Spirit of God” was presented the “In Memory of Don Silvio Franch” award at the 10th Religion Today Film Festival, which was held in Trento, Italy from October 6 to 20, 2007.
The 17th Philadelphia Film Festival hosts films from 49 countries. The event opened with “Young@Heart” by director Stephen Walker on April 3 and will close on April 15 with “Patti Smith: Dream of Life” by director Steven Sebring.
“Buddha Collapsed out of Shame” directed by Hana Makhmalbaf is another Iranian entry in the Cinema of the Muslim Worlds section.