More Faith-Based Films May Feature F-Bombs
"We don’t want to play within the constraints" of Christian moviemaking, says 'Generational Sins' writer-director Spencer Folmar.
Are Christian movies going blue? Generational Sins, in theaters Oct. 6 via Freestyle Digital Media, is rated PG-13 and contains 32 profanities — not unusual except that Sins is a faith-based movie.
Call them "Hard Faith" films, says writer-director Spencer Folmar, who is trademarking the phrase and whose banner, Third Brother Films, has more such movies in the works, including one based on Johnny Cash's The Beast in Me.
The faith-based Dove Foundation, which stamps its seal of approval on family-friendly movies, recently named Sins its first recommendation in its new category for viewers ages 18 and up. The movie, says Dove president Suzy Sammons, "has not only cautionary elements in it, but positive ones. There's an overt godly message with Christian values."
Dove has reviewed 12,000 movies since its founding in 1991, and about 750,000 people use the nonprofit organization's recommendations, says Sammons, who notes that films like Passion of the Christ and Hacksaw Ridge are examples of films that might also warrant Dove's new 18-plus recommendation.
"We're not only targeting faith-based moviegoers," says Folmar, "we're also going after ‘Chreasters' — people who only go to church on Christmas and Easter. If we tell stories of adults struggling with faith, adults will run toward them, so we're working hard on creating this new genre."
But some critics are crying foul. Movieguide, which recommends films based on their Christian messaging, wrote that movies "don't need to be filled with foul language, explicit sex, drug use and the like to reach out to people that aren't walking with God." Movieguide also accuses Folmar of marketing his movie based on the unusually large number of cuss words it contains.
Recent hits in the genre, like the God's Not Dead franchise, which has grossed more than $80 million in the U.S., have been PG rated, with no swearing in them. Folmar, though, embraces the controversy.
"There's been a backlash to Generational Sins, but there are secular and faith-based films, and we believe there should be a third option," he says. "We don't want to play within the constraints of the traditional faith-based community."
A version of this story first appeared in the Sept. 27 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.