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New faith-based film 'The Pastor' addresses gang violence, urban decay

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1/25/2016 (3 years ago)
Catholic Online (

Playing one night only across U.S., 'The Pastor' has received mixed reviews

The faith-based film "The Pastor" is playing in 400 theaters tonight only across the United States. "The Pastor" tells the story of a former gang member, played by the film's writer Arturo Muyshondt, who turns his life over to God and begins his ministry in a blighted urban area. The film was a labor of love for the producers, although it must be noted that it has garnered mostly mixed reviews in the Christian press.

Arturo Muyshondt, the star and writer of the new faith-based film 'The Pastor,' says his attention was drawn tot he growing issue of gang violence across the Americas. Photo by Property of WGC.

Arturo Muyshondt, the star and writer of the new faith-based film "The Pastor," says his attention was drawn tot he growing issue of gang violence across the Americas. Photo by Property of WGC.


Catholic Online (
1/25/2016 (3 years ago)

Published in Movies

Keywords: The pastor, faith-based film, Arturo Muyshondt, mixed reviews

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "I've always been interested in creating stories and making films that are rooted in reality, that have a social pulse, a social relevance, a sense of urgency," Muyshondt said in a recent interview. "And if people can be entertained, then yes. But they also can be educated and inspired. I love all kinds of movies; I go to the theater with my kids and watch very different types of movies."

The film took a long, winding road to completion, ten years, when both Muyshondt and his creative partner Deborah Goodwin, who also directed, began work on another film. Their initial project, "The Two Lives of Maxi Kaplan" fell apart due to financing. "And it was in my darkest of darkest moments that this story finally came to me," Muyshondt says.

Photo courtesy of Wolfgang Cinema

Photo courtesy of Wolfgang Cinema

"It took me almost eight or nine years before I came up with the story," he says. Muyshondt's attention was drawn to the growing, pervasive problem of gang violence throughout the Americas. 
"If you go to the FBI Web site, they have a specialized gang unit, particularly as how it relates to MS-13 gangs, which is Salvadoran. They are in 91 percent of the United States."

In presenting the story, however, there are inherent problems. "A good Christian movie addresses the world's serious and complex issues, but a proper Christian movie does so in a positive, encouraging, sanitized way," film reviewer Ryan Duncan on the Christian Web site Crosswalk writes. "Can you see the problem?"

While the film gingerly walks around potentially offensive material, "The Pastor" ultimately defeats its purpose. "It also doesn't help that 'The Pastor' routinely censors itself. Violence plays a huge part in sustaining gang behavior, and while it's clear The Pastor wants audiences to understand this, it tries to sanitize the experience for the viewers. As you might expect, it's a recipe for self-defeat."

Noting that the film is sincere, with vignettes that hit home regardless, Duncan summarily says, "So, is 'The Pastor' a good Christian film? No, but it tries to be, and that's still worth something. The movie can give faith-based viewers a glimpse into a world many of us don't fully comprehend. That alone makes 'The Pastor' a film worth watching."


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