Tyler Zacharia, executive producer of Martin Scorsese’s most recent film, “Silence,” believes it’s time for Christians to have more “meaningful engagement” with Hollywood, creating stories that make a profound impact by digging deep into the human soul.
Zacharia, an established finance and entertainment executive, told Faithwire in a recent interview that the oft-times negative messages produced by Hollywood have the power to make their way into the culture — and that faithful people need to continue to find their footing in the industry in order to offer up alternative messages.
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“I actually think the arts are upstream of politics … a lot of what is communicated in entertainment filters its way down,” he said. “There’s a need for meaningful engagement and stories from Christians.”
He continued, “Jesus (told stories) — and really compelling stories that ask really important questions, speaking to a lot of audiences.”
It is through stories and dialogue that Zacharia believes peoples’ imaginations can be expanded, as they process the scenes and scenarios being presented on the big screen. In order to be most effective at this task, though, Zacharia believes Christians need to stop solely looking at films as “another form of the pulpit to preach.”
While those types of faith-based films can certainly be fulfilling and entertaining, Zacharia said he’d love to see more movies that engage in a deep and profound form of storytelling — one that provides hope.
“If we look at how Christians have been involved in film, to a large extent it’s either what we equate as ‘B movies’ or … usually films that just preach to the choir,” he said. “How do we just make good stories, good art that can just engage dialogue … just to be able to first and foremost tell good stories?”
This, Zacharia said, is a healthy question to explore. In his view, “Silence” was one of those movies; while families couldn’t necessarily bring their children to see the film, the message — based on a true story — holds important and deeply rooted themes.
As previously reported, “Silence” focuses on the 17th century story of two Catholic missionaries who went to Japan to find their mentor — Fr. Ferreira, who was missing and was believed to have been pressured into apostasy after witnessing intense anti-Christian persecution at a time when Christianity was illegal in that country.
If Christians continue to try and engage Hollywood, Zacharia said he believes there will be a “more consistent quality” over time — and, as a Christian himself, he’s hoping to be part of that ongoing process.
“I think there’s a place for good storytelling in Hollywood. I’m not interested in in your face, beat-a-Bible-over-your-head storytelling,” he said. “There’s a culture to be redeemed and I think there’s an industry to be redeemed.”
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As for “Silence,” Zacharia said he’s hoping people approach the film with an open mind, paying close attention to the questions being asked throughout the movie.
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