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"The goal of Christians in the arts is not to make stuff that is only for Christians," Nicolosi said. "The role of Christians in a secular world like Hollywood is to say there is beauty, and people long for it. There is truth. There is goodness."
She's is critical of films like this summer's church-produced Facing the Giants that extol acceptance of Christ as the solution to life's problems.
[NOTE FROM BARB: Something must have gotten lost here in my rambling in the interview. Just to be clear, Jesus IS the answer to life's problems. And this answer is not that we have no problems, but that loving Him means suffering without despair in a way that is saving for the world...I'd so much rather people get furious with me for what I did mean that for what I didn't.]
She wants writers to produce scripts like A Man for All Seasons, Ghandi, Chariots of Fire or Schindler's List. "Those kinds of films will be part of the dialogue for the ... human family, about things that are lasting, about human meaning," she said.
After the blockbuster success of The Passion of the Christ, Act One began receiving calls from studios looking for writers and executives, Nicolosi said. But she warns that Hollywood still does not understand the religious market or respect traditional morality or ethics.
"Let's face it, no one is writing a To Kill a Mockingbird anymore. That would require a letting go of the cynicism that has Hollywood in its grip. For Hollywood, there can be no heroes." But Nicolosi is also critical of the Christian community for supporting poorly made films simply because they are "Christian."
The religious community should accept that great dramas often involve evil and violence, she said. "We have to be able to talk about sin, and Christians should be comfortable with that," she said. "We have to have sin in our drama, but it doesn't have to be an occasion of sin for our audience."
The Passion of the Christ did more than change Hollywood's support for faith-themed projects; it also showed Christians the power of films "to be the means of doing good in the world," she said.
"The church set the standards for beautiful art, for music, for architecture back in the Middle Ages," Nicolosi said. "The church has to wake up and get back to excellence. I think it will happen."
Thanks to the journalist, Richard Vara, for being so gracious and fair. Special thanks to the heroic Bill Cork of the Archdiocese of Houston for driving me around all that day, and for sitting through the long interview (and the tortuous photo session... Yes, that photo was the result of about forty minutes of painstaking effort by the Chronicle's staff photographer. Rats.).