Framing the sacred: an analysis of religious films in Zimbabwe
Shreve, Adam Terrence
This is a study of the production, content, distribution, and reception of different religious films in Zimbabwe, with an emphasis on the audience’s initial reception of the films. Informants’ self-identified religious beliefs and their reception of these selected films are analyzed primarily by using qualitative methods to understand better the interplay between film and religion in Zimbabwe. The films studied in this research are The Jesus Film (1979) created by Campus Crusade for Christ and indigenous, short Jesus films created locally in Zimbabwe in 2012. In order to answer the central research questions of this study, two main approaches are employed: the first is a holistic approach to the analysis of these films. The primary question within this approach is: in what ways do the production, content, and distribution of The Jesus Film and indigenous, short Jesus films affect the reception of the films among informants in Zimbabwe today? The second approach specifically addresses the interchange between the audience members’ self-identified religious beliefs and their reception of the films. There are two central research questions within this approach. First, in what ways may pre-existing perceptions of Jesus shape informants’ responses to and interpretations of Jesus as he is portrayed in The Jesus Film and in indigenous, short Jesus films in Zimbabwe today? Secondly, how might the viewing of these films affect those perceptions of Jesus? Based upon the careful analysis of the original data that emerges from the field work of this research, the conclusion provides a series of answers to these questions, revealing new insights into the interplay of film and religion in Zimbabwe.