Screening the church: A study of clergy representation in contemporary Afrikaans cinema

Hts Theological Studies 74 (2):1-8 (2018)
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Abstract
The church-funded CARFO or KARFO (Afrikaans Christian Filmmaking Organisation) was established in 1947, and aimed to ‘[socialise] the newly urbanized Afrikaner into a Christian urban society’ (Tomaselli 1985:25; Paleker 2009:45). This initiative was supported and sustained by the Dutch Reformed Church (DRC), which had itself been part of the sociopolitical and ideological fabric of Afrikaans religious life for a while and would guide Afrikaners through tensions between religious conservatism and liberalism and into apartheid. Given Afrikaans cinema’s ties with Christian religious and political conservatism, we explore the role – even the centrality – of the Afrikaans church in cultural activity before 1994, and then after 1994. Here, Afrikaans church is an inclusive term that brings together various denominations of Afrikaans-speaking churches, but which mainly suggests the domination of the DRC. After establishing the role of the Afrikaans church in the way described above, we move towards the primary focus of our study: exploring the representation of clergy in the contemporary Afrikaans film Faan se Trein in order to describe certain theological implications of this representation. With reference to Faan se Trein, our article notes and comments on the shifts that have occurred in clergy representation in Afrikaans cinema over the past decades. Osmer’s four tasks of practical theology, namely, descriptive, interpretive, normative and strategic are used for theological reflection. With due contextual reference to Afrikaans film dramas such as Broer Matie [Brother Matie], Saak van Geloof [A Matter of Faith], Roepman [Stargazer], Stilte [Silence], Suiderkruis [Southern Cross] and Faan se Trein, we arrive at some preliminary conclusions about the representation of clergy in mainly contemporary Afrikaans cinema.
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