The 2011 San Francisco Atheist Film Festival, Part 1

I attended the 2011 San Francisco Atheist Film Festival (1) over the weekend, and I am going to write about the entire thing in a series of posts here. The festival was held at the Roxie theater, San Francisco’s oldest operating theater (2).

SF Atheist Film Festival Badge

SF Atheist Film Festival Badge

First up (for me) was a set of short films titled “2011: Year of the Rapture.” These films all had a runtime length of between 5 and 15 minutes, but that’s where the similarities end. Some were animated, some were live action. Some were funny, some were serious. Some were indie avant-garde, some were from mainstream television.

There were three shorts that formed a series where a sports journalist was interviewed about his deep religious belief. I found it quite interesting to hear him talk about a variety of subjects. The most interesting was how he tried to weasel his way out of the question “Why do athletes pray for success and thank god when they win, given that one side is going to lose?” He basically didn’t answer the question, but it was quite amusing seeing the mental gymnastics he had to jump through to reconcile this concept.

Another short video, shown below, was a comedic spoof of a pest control solution, titled “Creedocide” (3). This short had the entire audience, including myself, just rolling in laughter. It reminds me of the Futurama episode “Godfellas” and the South Park episode “Simpson’s Already Did It.”

The final short I want to talk about is titled “Ezekiel” (4), and was probably my favorite short film of the group. It’s only 9 minutes, so I highly recommend watching it before reading on.

[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/26221663]

The obvious message of the short is that people often use religion as an excuse to do horrible acts. What I found interesting wasn’t so much this overarching theme, but the journey that Ezekiel goes through. He is obviously quite religious, and thus rather deluded, but he just wants to be a good person and help others. On his journey throughout San Francisco, he encounters many strange and wonderful things, of which he is curious to explore. I especially like the scene of his discovery in the forest. Here he has found something wonderful and seems keen to explore it, but is interrupted by his mentor and ultimately forgets about it. He eventually learns what the entire trip was about, and yet he doesn’t leave the house. Why not, I wonder? Perhaps he felt an obligation to his mentor, perhaps he simply felt lost in his moment of disillusionment and didn’t know what else to do. Finally, why did he jump in the pool? Was it because he was so disillusioned and his world was crashing in that he didn’t know what else to do? Was it a feint to get the other two to stop fighting? I’m not really sure. I could also be approaching this wrong. Perhaps it’s not his motivations that are important, but what it symbolizes in the greater context of the story…perhaps a washing away of his old beliefs? I think that it’s the ambiguity that I really like about this short film. What are your thoughts?

(1) “Atheist Film Festival.” Atheist Film Festival. Available: http://sfatheistfilmfestival.org/
(2) “Roxie Theater.” Roxie Theater. Available: http://www.roxie.com/
(3) “Creedocide.” Daily Motion. Avialable: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x8fkrq_creedocide_fun Note: I’m not really sure who originally created the short, so I can’t properly credit him/her.
(4) Izenberg, Josh. “Ezekiel.” The San Francisco Egotist. Available: http://www.thesfegotist.com/news/local/2011/july/20/ezekiel-part-san-francisco-48-hour-film-project

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