I’ve been watching a preview of the “Hug an Atheist” documentary with great pleasure. A not unbiased pleasure, obviously — it’s hard to be unbiased about a movie that you’re actually in — but I think I would enjoy this movie tremendously even if I weren’t in it. It’s a pretty straight-up talking-heads documentary — interviews with different atheists about our lives and views and experiences, woven together thematically by the questions being asked — but the content is far from ordinary. I like how the filmmaker, Sylvia Broeckx, didn’t shy away from difficult topics: the film spends about as much time on how atheists handle illness and suffering and death as it does on how we experience meaning and morality, or parenting and Christmas. And I like how people’s answers aren’t your standard “positive happy atheism” PR: the interviewees acknowledge difficulties, expose vulnerability and pain, reveal real differences in philosophies.
“Hug an Atheist” will have its premiere at the 5th Atheist Film Festival, coming up in San Francisco Sept. 14. Other film topics include: Charles Darwin, a fake guru (I know, they all are, in this case it’s a deliberate fake), creationism in the public schools, religious proselytizing in the public schools, the Magdalene laundries in Ireland, and Heaven. For several of the films, the directors or other folks involved in the production will be on hand for Q&A. Plus there’s a directors’ reception the night before, which I’ve been to before and is always a blast.
The Atheist Film Festival will be at the Roxie Theater — 3117 16th St., a block from the 16th and Mission BART station — on Saturday, September 14. You can get all-day passes, or tickets for individual films. And if you get both a festival pass and a ticket to the directors’ reception, you get a discount on both. Hope to see you there!