Cathedrals of the Poor

Thanks to computer difficulties, it has been a week since I was able to add a new post to my blog. But thankfully the technical problems have been resolved. During the past week, I have been working on a new film,  Cathedrals of the Poor, which I think is the most powerful film SDF has produced. The film will be ready for distribution by early December. We are still searching for sponsors for the film. Here is the text which will appear on the back of the DVD jacket:

A Note from the Director

As we neared the end of our 8th year of putting the power of film at the service of the poor, the San Damiano Foundation experienced an explosion of interest in our work from around the world. In 2008, we released our 13th film, The Fragrant Spirit of Life, which is set in Uganda. Shortly afterward, we posted a scene from the film on YouTube. The scene featured two small children, Sam and Esther, whom we found lying nearly naked in the dirt outside a remote village. They were starving and unable to move because they suffered from untreated polio.

Without question, it was the hardest thing I have ever filmed. I have shown the scene many times at high schools across the United States, and the scene never fails to still and silence up to a thousand kids. By early November of 2009, the YouTube posting had been viewed by more than 158,000 people from all over the world. People were writing us from England, France, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Australia, New Zealand and many nations in Asia and Africa.

After producing thirteen films, mostly on global and domestic poverty, I felt it was time to release a film that served as a true introduction to the San Damiano Foundation and our ministry of putting the power of film at the service of the poor. We carefully selected fourteen scenes from seven of our films and orchestrated them in a way that shows, not only the scope of chronic poverty, but also provides the theological underpinnings for why we have no option but to do all we can to relieve the suffering caused by the widespread, unjust poverty that is killing countless people every day. The film also contains a stunning 23-minute-long montage of images, which serves as a visual meditation on the wounded body of Christ, featuring never-before-seen footage and photographs.

While I deeply love all the SDF films that I have written and directed, Cathedrals of the Poor is the one film I would give to someone who earnestly wanted to understand SDF and the tormented world of poverty Christ calls us to heal. While it is emotionally draining and hard to watch, this film has the transformative power to change the heart of anyone who views it…and I pray it does.

Gerry Straub


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