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JESUS TOWN, USA (#HotDocs15 Review)

jesustownposter_600JESUS TOWN, USA
Directed by Julian Pinder and Billie Mintz

When a small American town’s sole claim to fame is that they’ve been putting on the same Passion Play for almost 90 years, you know its residents are going to take that job, and its Christian subject matter, very seriously. Such is the case in an Oklahoma community set in the Wichita foothills and the subject of Julian Pinder and Billie Mintz’s comedy, JESUS TOWN, USA.

It’s coming up to Easter 2013 and the man who has played Jesus in the Passion Play for years has shaved his beard and hung up his loin cloth. The town is on the hunt for their new Christ and all signs point to sweet (albeit perhaps a tad odd) Zack Little. Zack leads a happy life, delivering papers in the morning and visiting his girlfriend while she works at the local burger joint at night.

He’s also a Buddhist. And while Zack might not be the sharpest tool in the shed, he does know enough about his fundamentalist Christian neighbours to realize that this is information probably best kept to himself for the time being.

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But small towns are what they are and their residents generally have an uncanny knack for prying. Zack’s religious affiliation is soon outed and word begins to travel. He realizes he’s going to have to come clean with the town and face losing the part of a lifetime.

JESUS TOWN, USA starts off charming enough but soon unravels into a bit of a bore. Anyone familiar with the Christian community, particularly the type you’d find nestled in small-town America, would have no trouble believing the obstacles Zack encounters or the ironic stress that follows his conversion to Buddhism. But eventually you half expect Christopher Guest, Eugene Levy or Catherine O’Hara to make an appearance – and it’s to the film’s detriment that they don’t.

2.5 sheep

JESUS TOWN, USA will have its International Premiere at the HotDocs Canadian International Documentary Festival, as part of the Canadian Spectrum program, It will be preceded by the short film, THE LITTLE DEPUTY, directed by Trevor Anderson.

Screening Schedule …

Friday, April 24, 9:15 PM, Isabel Bader Theatre

Saturday, April 25, 1:00 PM, Hart House

Sunday, May 3, 9:00 PM, Isabel Bader Theatre

For more information and for tickets, please visit hotdocs.ca.

Your turn!

How many sheep would you give Jesus Town USA?

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