This Film Could Change the Faith-Based Genre
LifeZette talks to director about his controversial movie — and his goal to be 'authentic' while promoting 'eternal truths'
“Generational Sins” is not your typical faith-based movie — nor does it want to be. Writer-director Spencer T. Folmar (pictured above on the left) set out to do something a little different, with the drama about two brothers who reconnect after the death of their mother.
“I’m not that well-versed in the traditional faith-based films,” Folmar told LifeZette in an exclusive interview, noting he wanted his film to have an “authentic” and “universal” appeal that many faith-based movies are missing.
“The reality that the films are set in, traditional faith-based films, is a reality I don’t recognize,” Folmar said, adding that many of the stories can feel “sanitized,” which is partly why critics aren’t often very warm to them in reviews.
Folmar, 27, wanted to break the mold with "Generational Sins." The film has a grittiness to it, fairly unusual for a film about faith, although many popular movies set around the theme of faith have successfully done it before –– primarily "The Passion of the Christ" and "Hacksaw Ridge," both directed by Mel Gibson.
"We [sometimes] live in an often overwhelmingly dark world," Folmar said, adding that Christians have a unique opportunity when telling adult stories because of "eternal truths we can infuse in our stories."
The "dark world" in "Generational Sins" is not as adult or extreme as, say, in "Ray Donovan," a Showtime series with religious themes that stars the openly Christian and conservative actor Jon Voight. "Generational Sins" simply contains a handful of curses from the main cast and others, as well as some references to drug use and promiscuous sex.
The harsher elements of the story have earned the film a bit of controversy. "The movie won't do well if it's advertised as faith-based," Movieguide editor Tom Snyder told The Hollywood Reporter recently of "Generational Sins."
Movieguide founder Ted Baehr added, "It's off-putting for the audience. People don't swear that much in public, except maybe in the hallowed halls of Hollywood."
"He hasn't seen the film," Folmar said of Baehr, adding that the curse words in the film are part of the mission to be "authentic."
Added Folmar: "We can all admit people cuss."
Even though Movieguide, which reviews films from a Christian perspective, is no fan of the film, Folmar believes there is a large Christian audience looking for this sort of adult content. He called the film part of an "emerging new genre" he hopes to continue through the production company, Third Brother Films. The irony of it all is that "Generational Sins" was hit with an official PG-13 rating. While rough and gritty, it was cleared by the MPAA to be seen by viewers under 17.
"We can all admit people cuss."
Beyond the goal of making a faith-based picture for adults, Folmar also wanted to make a statement about the current culture in America. In his movie, the two central brothers could not be more different. One is accustomed to the practical day-to-day, blue-collar life of Middle America, while the other is used to his privileged lifestyle in the city.
As many do, Folmar sees a growing divide culturally between many in Middle America and those living in coastal cities in states like California. Born in Eustis, Florida, Folmar grew up in a rural town in central Pennsylvania — and now lives in Los Angeles. He has an appreciation for rural areas and cities that he wanted to show.
"I love small towns," he said, calling them the "foundation" of the country. Though he grew up "very rural," Folmar has an appreciation for the "options" his current fast-paced city provides those who are in pursuit of career success.
It's a mutual appreciation he felt was not being acknowledged or shown enough. "The world is very divisive right now," he said, but added that it is less divisive than is often portrayed in the media. He said he still loves visiting home and is never treated any differently. "Neither one is better than the other," he said of rural towns and big cities.
"Generational Sins" will be released on October 6.