Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Paradise Recovered Movie Premiers (Recovery From Fundamentalism)

Andie Redwine was raised in Armstrongism.  After leaving the abuses behind decided to do a movie on helping people escape from abusive religion.

Here are his comments from his blog about the movie, himself and what he hopes to achieve:

 Paradise Recovered

Putting Them Out of Business

For the past decade, I (Andie) have been involved in assisting those whose lives have been devastated by abusive spiritual groups, as well as those silenced by church-sanctioned domestic violence.

This film is for them.
For years, I've looked into the eyes of the walking wounded, and for years, regardless of who they are or what their situation is, they have wondered out loud if anyone gets it. Does their story even matter?
It does matter. It matters enough to be told.
For years, I personally have struggled to come to terms with my own upbringing in a fundamentalist group. The members who helped raise me were and are (for the most part) some of the most loving, dedicated people I have ever known, and many remain close friends. Some are still heavily influenced by this group, some are indifferent, some are atheists, some are healed, some have a radically different faith, and some are no longer with us.
I've been pretty private about this. I am often asked if the script of Paradise Recovered is about me. Certainly my own experiences shaped the story somewhat...a rented hall where services meet...a preacher on a TV screen up front...metal folding chairs and spiral notebooks...lots of rules and regulations necessary for salvation.
But a lot of these stories have come from those who so willingly and often tearfully shared them with me in late night conversations, over coffee, or in Internet chat rooms and forums.
So the layers of the characters came from all of those experiences, but this isn't solely autobiographical. And given the content, there are some difficult moments, but there are definitely some light-hearted ones. It's good to be entertained while you learn.
To answer a question that I am often asked very publicly, yes, I am a person of faith, but my faith looks very different than it used to growing up.
My faith is very much about sharing love with others and caring for their hearts as if they were my own. And it certainly isn't about demanding that someone believe exactly as I do or deciding where someone's eternal destiny lies. It is about demonstrating what I believe to the best of my limited human ability and seeing with spiritual eyes that which I believe God does in spite of my failings. It is about being grateful for what I have been given and giving back as a response.
Often, when I am trying to show someone how abusive groups operate, I will watch a movie with them. Like M. Night Shymalan's The Village. Or the great '70's documentary Marjoe or the more recent Oscar-nominated Jesus Camp. Or a Norwegian film called The Other Side of Sunday.
Once, while I was watching The Other Side of Sunday with a friend, we both noticed how the film dealt with getting out of the group, but it never really dealt with what happens once you get out.
"There needs to be a movie like that," she said.
There did. But I knew nothing about movies, so I decided to write a book instead. A fictional tale called Paradise Recovered.
Sitting around a campfire one Indiana night, a good long-time filmmaker friend, Denis Hennelly, suggested that the story that I was telling really needed to be a narrative film.
"But I don't know anything about writing a screenplay," I countered.
"Well," he said, confidently, "I do."
And so I started writing Paradise as a narrative feature film.
About a month later, I met an old friend, Storme Wood, over breakfast to talk about filmmaking. And, to make a very long story short, we decided to make this film. Together.
Without Denis and Storme and an amazing group of talented actors, producers, and crew, there would be no Paradise Recovered: A New Film. Everyone gave me far more than I knew to ask or even imagined. Many involved had their own stories of abuse and difficulties with sorting out belief, and yet, despite all of the emotional buttons we were pushing, everyone gave everything they had to make this film everything that it could be.
This entire project continues to be a labor of love as a testament to those who have been wounded spiritually by those who were misguided zealots at best, criminal sociopaths at worst.
At the beginning of this project, a very good friend pleaded with me to do all that I could to "put the bastards out of business." It is for her and for the thousands of walking wounded that I continue to press forward.
And it is for a few that I never wanted to help bury that I make this film. I continue to do so in memory of them.
I feel loved and supported by my family, by my extended family and friends, by my community of faith, and by my generous cast of fans on Facebook and in the community who ask, "Now, when is it coming out? What's the movie about anyway? Is it going to be at a film festival in my area? Did you cut the part with me as an extra? Because my mom really wants to see me on the big screen."
As a brief aside, no one is getting rich here. There's this myth that indie filmmaking is about making crazy profits. I hope we do make crazy profits, because this will mean that a lot of the walking wounded will have access to mental health services through either an existing foundation or one that we set up.
And it might just mean that we shared information effectively enough to show that some of these self-proclaimed emperors indeed have no clothes. And maybe they'll be driven to the unemployment line. Permanently.

Heartland Film Festival, October 16, 18, 20, and 21, 2010

Indianapolis Metro Area 
Individual passes may be purchased.
After-party on October 18 to be announced.
Saturday, Oct 16, 2010 at 5:30pm - AMC Showplace 17 Indianapolis
Monday, Oct 18, 2010 at 8:15pm - AMC Castleton Square 
Wednesday, Oct 20, 2010 at 7:45pm - AMC Showplace 17 Indianapolis
Thursday, Oct 21, 2010 at 2:00pm - AMC Castleton Square

Austin Film Festival, October 21 and 24, 2010

Austin, Texas
Individual passes may be purchased 30 minutes prior to showtime. 
Discounted badges and passes are available until September 30.
After-party on October 24 To Be Announced

Film Courage Interactive, November 29, 2010

Los Angeles, California
Sponsored by LA Talk Radio's Film Courage with David Branin and Karen Worden
Tickets now available for this one-night event.
Monday, Nov 29, 2010 at 7:00 - 11:00 pm - The Downtown Independent Theatre

An Open Letter to Former Members

An Open Letter To Former Members

Hey everyone! Wow, we've been receiving some really great, heartfelt letters about how the Paradise trailer is affecting you. It's really encouraging to us as we continue to tighten up the rough cut. Here's an excerpt from one of the letters:

“I'm very interested in seeing this movie...after viewing a documentary about a month ago called 'Join Us', it brought back the pain of leaving a cult several years ago…I'll never forget the heartache, even though I'm mostly on the better side of it now."

Two weekends ago, we did a screening with Cara Jean Wahlers and Grover Parido to give them a feel for the film, as well as to discuss the score that they have been working on and ideas they have. At the end of the movie, Cara asked, “Is this what it is like for people who are trapped in these groups?”

Yeah. We think so. The letters and notes that we are getting from people confirm that we have hit a nerve, and that’s just with the trailer.

Here's another part of a letter from a former member:

“I was in a fundamentalist church for 15 years with an authoritarian leader…I was preached against and shunned. Still to this day, I do not go to a church, but still the Lord has me. It's been a journey…There are many of us out on the hillsides.”

Because of these notes and many others, we have decided to put a resources tab on our website to help hurting people network with those who might be able to help, regardless of your desire to have or to not have faith. Healing is possible, and there are some great resources out here…people who will be gentle, recognizing where you have been. It will take me a while to assemble all of that and get it uploaded, so if you want information in the meantime, please use our ‘contact us’ tab.

Additionally, as time permits after we finish the film, we intend to put together some podcasts or videos with cult experts who can provide some understanding about cult recovery and mind control. We have some great friends of this movie, and we indeed intend to help promote their work and passion to raise awareness about how cultic and religious abuse happens.  Helping people heal from abuse is one of the greatest callings on this planet.

Keep the notes of encouragement coming. It means a lot to us to hear how the issue of spiritual abuse has affected you or your loved ones, and we are excited to continue to do what we can to bring this issue to light to bring healing.

We continue to obsess over the rough cut, and we feel a strong gravity to get this story right.  We're not just making a film here -- we are telling the precious stories of people who have had the guts to share them with us.  And truth is always worth telling.

While we are not therapists or trained counselors, this we can say with certainty: no one ever joins a church or a cause expecting to be abused. Some of you were born into these groups without any type of consent whatsoever. Your stories? We believe you. And you deserve to live life to the fullest. There are a lot of great people out here who will be gentle with you.

It wasn’t your fault. You deserve to heal. And it is a long road, but freedom is worth every step.

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