Buies Creek, N.C.-Dr. Kenneth Morefield, assistant professor of English at Campbell University, has also become somewhat of an international movie critic. Morefield, who studies film and has published a book about it, served as a movie reviewer for "Christianity Today" from the Toronto International Film Festival, Sept. 10-19.
Of the 260 new films screened at the Festival, Morefield was able to see and review 20 for the publication. His favorite was an obscure film called "Lourdes," directed by Austrian Jessica Hausner. Based upon the story of a group of religious believers on a pilgrimage to Lourdes' famous healing waters in France, the movie appears at first to be a satire, but quickly develops into a serious examination of religious faith.
"The film takes the characters seriously. It examines faith in general; it probes a lot of questions, like why do some people get sick while others don't, and it avoids pat answers," Morefield said.
Morefield found commercial blockbuster "Bright Star," a story of the love affair between Romantic poet John Keats and Fanny Brawne, to be a tender love story, well done and very appropriate for Christian audiences.
"It was refreshing to see romance that is more about love than attraction and desire," Morefield said. "It is a really sweet film in an age in which romance is so hard to do well."
Toronto is the largest and most prestigious film festival in North America. It is unique because it screens both commercial and independent films from all over the world unlike the Sundance Film Festival, for example, which screens only independent films.
"Festivals like Toronto are important for foreign films because it may be the only way for films like these to get distribution," Morefield said.
The film that got the most buzz, "Precious," produced by Oprah Winfrey, won the Cadillac People's Choice Award at Toronto.
In his classroom, Morefield uses film as a means of teaching critical thinking skills to students. His book, "Faith and Spirituality in Masters of World Cinema," finds literary motifs in modern media that illustrate how popular culture views religion. The book is a collection of essays by academic scholars, including Morefield, published in 2009.
Morefield graduated from Mary Washington College in Fredericksburg, Va., with a Bachelor of Arts in English. He received both Master of Arts and Ph.D. degrees in English from Northern Illinois University in DeKalb. Morefield edited and compiled the essays contained in Faith and Spirituality in Masters of World Cinema. Published by Cambridge Scholars Press. You can access Morefield's film reviews at http://www.christianitytoday.com/movies/commentaries.