‘I’ve got something to say.” That is what a black minister heard God say to him moments before the minister unexpectedly spoke to Dylann Roof, the 21-year-old white supremacist who had murdered the pastor’s wife two days earlier. At the conclusion of a midweek Bible study, Roof had opened fire as those gathered in the basement of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC, bowed their heads in prayer. Roof killed nine innocents.
The massacre took place on June 17, 2015. At a court hearing two days later, with Roof appearing via a closed-circuit television feed from jail, the judge asked the bereaved families if they had anything to say to the accused. That minister would be among a string of those who looked at Roof and uttered the unfathomable “F” word: forgive.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean nothing changed. Within a month of the shooting, the Confederate battle flag — a symbol Roof had adored — was removed from the state-capitol grounds. Walmart and Amazon stopped selling items bearing the flag. Thousands marched in a peaceful display of solidarity.
Director Brian Ivie has captured in searing detail the well of pain and faith from whence these acts of hate and forgiveness flowed. His documentary “Emanuel,” debuting June 17, provides insights into Charleston’s racial history and the prominent role of Emanuel in the South.
Thanks to assistance from basketball star Stephen Curry and other celebrities, Ivie had the resources to craft a stunning piece of filmmaking.
Ivie doesn’t sweep the religious roots of these responses under a rug but presents them with powerful frankness. To a world convinced that Christianity is either a spent force or a farce, he showcases undeniably powerful and authentic depictions of faith in action.
I watched an advanced screening of “Emanuel” with an audience of people from a variety of backgrounds. Afterward, it became clear that though we had watched the same film, we had seen different things.
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SOURCE: New York Post, John Murdock