Mary Magdalene(in cinemas 16th March) is a powerfully imagined portrait of one of the most enigmatic and misunderstood spiritual figures in history. The biblical biopic tells the story of Mary (Rooney Mara), a young woman in search of a new way of living. Constricted by the hierarchies and gender inequalities of the day, Mary defies her traditional family to join a new movement led by the charismatic Jesus of Nazareth (Joaquin Phoenix). She soon finds a place for herself alongside Jesus and at the heart of a journey that will lead to Jerusalem.
Written by Helen Edmundson and Philippa Goslett, and directed by Garth Davis, Mary Magdalene also stars Chiwetel Ejiofor and Tahar Rahim.
This companion booklet offers an insight into the making of the film, as well as questions and reflections for church groups wanting to engage with it more deeply.
We’re thrilled to be working with event cinema experts CinemaLive in bringing Handel’s Messiah from Bristol Old Vic to cinemas across the UK and Ireland. This dramatised production, in cinemas for one night only (Wednesday 28th March 2018), retells the Easter story in a striking new way.
Messiah is the most popular choral work ever written in English. The music was composed by George Frederic Handel in 1741, over a period of just 24 days. The words were put together from the King James Bible and the Book of Common Prayer by Handel’s collaborator Charles Jennens, who wanted to create ‘a meditation of our Lord as Messiah in Christian thought and belief’.
We’re so inspired by the community organisations we partner with, who this year have included the brilliant organisations below. The work they do and the values they represent are amazing all year round, of course. But at Christmas they have a special relevance.
Inspired by our partners, I’ve picked some of my personal favourite films which capture the spirit of what these organisations do – and reflect the real reason for the season.
You won’t find any tinsel or sleigh-bells here: these are films with an evergreen message.
This is a child-friendly guide; some of the discussion questions are for younger viewers. Paddington 2 is rated PG for mild threat.
Paddington (voice of Ben Wishaw) is now living happily with the Brown family, and has friends all over the neighbourhood. But though he’s settled into London life, he’s still thinking of Aunt Lucy (voice of Imelda Staunton), who he left behind in Peru. He wants to send her a very special birthday present, and he thinks he’s found the perfect gift – a beautiful pop-up book showing famous landmarks of London.
But while Paddington is trying to save enough money to buy the book, it catches the attention of egotistical faded actor Phoenix Buchanan (Hugh Grant). He knows that there’s more to the book than meets the eye, and hatches a devious plan to steal it and frame Paddington for the theft.
With their beloved bear wrongly imprisoned, it’s up to Mrs Brown (Sally Hawkins), Mr Brown (Hugh Bonneville) and the rest of Paddington’s friends to clear his name.
Damaris Media CEO Tim Waldron blogs about his time at the Mothers’ Union General Meeting in Edinburgh
We’re thrilled to have partnered with Mothers’ Union to spread the word about Victoria & Abdul, the historical drama still charming audiences in UK cinemas.
Queen Victoria was the first Royal Patron of Mothers’ Union. The organisation believes in the power of relationships to bring down barriers – and Victoria & Abdul tells the story of the most unlikely friendship in history.
We worked with Mothers’ Union to create a special companion booklet offering a glimpse behind the scenes of the film, and a chance to reflect on themes of reconciliation and ‘welcoming the stranger’ – ideas close to the organisation’s heart.
Mothers’ Union is an international charity that aims to demonstrate the Christian faith in action through the transformation of communities worldwide. They work with people of all faiths and none in 83 countries to promote stable marriage, family life and the protection of children.
Last weekend I was able to take a (pleasingly short) flight up from Southampton to Edinburgh, and join in with the Mothers’ Union General Meeting. This gathering, which takes place every year, is a day of fellowship, celebration and inspiration, welcoming members and non-members from across the UK. The theme this year was ‘Faith in Action’, featuring a keynote speech from Canon Sarah Snyder, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s top advisor.
Damaris Media aims to build sustainable, mutually beneficial relationships with community groups, and it was fantastic to meet lots of people who had used and loved our Victoria & Abdul resources. The feedback we got from delegates was extremely positive and there was a real sense of buzz around the topic of our partnership, which was highlighted on the main stage as a great new venture for the Mothers’ Union team. People were impressed with the quality of the resources – and they loved the film.
‘We had a wonderful branch outing to see the film; Our members all thoroughly enjoyed it.’ – North Yorkshire branch
I heard countless stories of groups seeing and enjoying the film together – there was even a group of delegates going to see the movie that evening in Edinburgh! Others had left their branches strict instructions to see the movie over the weekend so that they could use our Companion Booklet at next week’s branch meeting.
I left the gathering feeling hugely encouraged about the impact of what we do: our work with Mothers’ Union is a prime example of how our partnerships work. The film company covers the costs, Damaris Media works with the community group’s central body – and as a result, local groups get a valued opportunity. Everyone’s a winner!
Earlier this year we supported the release of The Shack, an adaptation of the bestselling book starring Octavia Spencer and Sam Worthington. We knew that because of its unusual approach to exploring questions around faith and suffering, this film would particularly resonate with the UK church community.
‘Damaris were passionate about sharing the film effectively and as widely as possible throughout the UK church community, covering all denominations. I found them to be very creative with their ideas, to have a great network of relationships, and to be reliable and efficient at introducing the film to leaders and laity alike.’ – The Shack director Stuart Hazeldine
Lots of people seized the opportunity to see The Shack in cinemas, and we had a great response to our resources. In Reading, Ann and Keith Wilson brought together about 150 people from their Baptist church community and beyond to watch the film and talk about it afterwards – I asked Ann how this came about.
‘As a Union of 2000 churches, Baptists Together live and breathe engaging with their local communities. To enable this, they need good support and excellent resources. Damaris, through their film resources have been helping us brilliantly for a long time. Enabling local churches to put on their own screening of The Shack is a significant and exciting development in that equipping.’ – Mike Lowe, Baptists Together
Imagine sitting down for a meal with someone different to you.
Something stopped you coming here before. The expectation of awkward silence, perhaps. The suspicion that your worst fears about the other person might be confirmed. Your discomfort with the unknown.
But as you begin to look at each other, to eat together, something shifts. You talk about everyday things, and begin to enjoy each other’s company. A joke catches you off-guard, and you start to laugh. You forget yourself.
Life-affirming new documentary Summer in the Forest is in cinemas and online June 23. This poetic film follows the life of the L’Arche community in Trosly, France, where people with learning disabilities and those who support them have found what it truly means to be human.
This companion booklet introduces the stars of the film, and the transforming wisdom of Jean Vanier, who founded the L’Arche movement.
We couldn’t be more pleased and proud to be supporting the release of Summer in the Forest, a beautiful and life-affirming documentary which will be released in cinemas and on V-O-D 23rd June.
The film (directed by Randall Wright) follows Philippe, Michel, Andre and Patrick, who were locked away and forgotten in violent asylums until the 1960s, when the young philosopher Jean Vanier took a stand and secured their release. Together they created L’Arche Trosly-Breuil, a community at the edge of a beautiful forest near Paris. A quiet revolution was born.
L’Arche (which now has 151 Communities in 37 countries) has a vision for a world where people with learning disabilities and their carers can discover a fuller life together. As part of the process of creating a companion booklet to go alongside Summer in the Forest, I paid a visit to the L’Arche Community closest to where Damaris Media is based: L’Arche Bognor Regis, on the South coast a short distance from the sea.