‘Blue Like Jazz’ films aims to be Christian, not ‘cheesy’

Do not confuse the upcoming film “Blue Like Jazz” with Christian market movies like “Fireproof” or “Courageous.” “A Christian movie genre has formed. Our first goal with this movie is that we didn’t fit into this genre,” said director Steve Taylor.

Author Donald Miller, who wrote the 2003 best-selling book “Blue Like Jazz,” from which the movie was adapted, agrees.

“We wanted to show that movies about the faith struggle that millions of Americans deal with don’t have to be cheesy,” he said. “They don’t have to have bad actors. They don’t have to be low budget production. They can compete with other films at the box office.”

“Most Christian artists if we’re really honest with ourselves, we want to be accepted by other creatives who are not people of faith, just general market folks.”

If it’s acceptance they are looking for, Taylor, 54, and Miller, 41, have found a measure of it in the secular world. The film will be distributed by Roadside Attractions, which markets such decidedly non-religious films as “Winter’s Bone” and “I Love You, Phillip Morris,” an unusual endorsement for a faith-based product.

“Blue Like Jazz” premiered March 13 to respectful reviews at the South By Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, an increasingly important venue for independent films. The film hits theaters April 13.

Loosely adapted from Miller’s autobiography, the film follows a young Texan teen as he leaves his conservative church and enrolls in the aggressively secular and whimsically liberal Reed College near Portland, Ore. His faith is tried as much by the hypocrisy of his home church as by the new ideas around him.

Taylor, well known in contemporary Christian music circles, has made a career out of addressing church hypocrisy.

“I think it always comes better when it’s from the inside than from the outside,” he said. “So many of our critics think we are too blind or dumb to know (hypocrisy).”

That — in addition to the film’s swearing, drinking, and a lesbian character — is why Miller expects more pushback from the evangelical world than from secular critics.

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