David Oyelowo Says Christian Films Lack Depth

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By Michal Ortner

Actor David Oyelowo, who is outspoken about his faith, is suggesting that Christian filmmakers broaden the depth of their material. He believes that viewers are looking for something with more intricate storytelling and substance that viewers can relate to in their own imperfect lives.

“I’ve seen enough of them [Christian films] to know that in many ways it’s about, OK, the Gospel is Jesus and him being the path to light and you play that scene after scene after scene,” he said in a recent interview.

“No film that you and I have watched and loved is as simplistic as that, and life as you and I have lived is not as simplistic as that, and the Bible is not as simplistic as that. I think that complexity, doubt, difficulty, unexpected cul-de-sacs, is what we all look for in a story, and in life generally,” he explained.

He says that most films that are Christian-based do not take what he calls an “on the nose” approach to the way they depict a story. Sharing the Christian message should involve real life situations and conflicts, according to the “Selma” actor.

Oyelowo’s most recent film is based on the true events of an escaped convict who holds a woman captive for several days. Kate Mara plays the woman who is kidnapped. Both she and the convict, who is played by Oyelowo, lay open their struggles and eventually turn to Christ for healing.

The film, appropriately named “Captive,” is rated PG-13 and has some questioning if it is suitable for Christians to view considering some of the language and a scene where Mara is shown without a shirt on.

Oyelowo has also been questioned for his involvement in the movie. He says that it simply shows how life really goes and that Christians should not need a sanitized version of life for their viewing pleasure.

“Personally, I want to open it out as a conversation,” Oyelowo said. “I don’t want (faith-based filmmaking) to feel cliquey. I don’t want it to feel steeped in Christian-ese that only a certain group speak and understand, and therefore cut a bunch of people out. I’m interested in speaking to a broad audience.”

In a separate interview with Mike Huckabee, Oyelowo expressed similar concerns about Christian filmmaking, stating that before Gospelizing the culture, movie makers should be “fantastically good artistically, creatively and have a vision beyond a core Christian audience.”

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