“Can you love your neighbor while kneeing him in the face?” That’s the pivotal question asked by a subject in Fight Church and is the crux of this provocative new documentary from Daniel Junge and Bryan Storkel. Pastor Paul Burress runs Victory Training out of his church in Rochester, New York. His church is one of many around the country adopting fight ministries as part of their mission. Not only does Burress use fighting as an evangelical tool with men and boys, but he, like many in this new movement, believes today’s Christian needs more of a warrior ethos which can be honed through mixed martial arts. Burress has a dark past and a history of unsanctioned fighting in which he's suffered ten concussions. With the rise of MMA’s popularity, he’s tempted to get back into the ring himself, in spite of his doctor's warnings. Complicating matters is that New York is only one of two states in the nation where MMA is illegal – the legislative battle for which Paul and others in the religious community are fighting. Alongside, Pastor Burress’s complex story, Fight Church features several other pastors who are also fighters. Through their inter-twined narratives, culminating in several riveting fights, Fight Church seeks to discuss the compatibility of Christianity and mixed martial arts and, moreover, the confluence of religion and violence in our culture. Through sympathetic subjects on both sides of this debate, the film asks provocative questions about sports, masculinity, free will and morality.
Bryan Storkel and Daniel Junge Bryan Storkel is an award-winning documentary filmmaker who loves quirky characters and is fascinated by religious topics. Storkel's directorial debut, Holy Rollers: The True Story of Card Counting Christians played at over 40 festivals and won 10 Best Documentary Awards. Daniel Junge is an Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker (and two-time nominee). His first feature-length film, Chiefs, won the Grand Jury Prize at the Tribeca Film Festival and broadcast nationally on PBS. Daniel's film The Last Campaign of Governor Booth Gardner was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Short in 2010. His most recent film, Saving Face , won the 2012 Academy Award for Best Documentary Short.
PRECEDED BY SHORT FILM
PEACE DURING WAR
U.S.A., 2014, 17 mins, Color
+FILMMAKER IS SCHEDULED TO BE IN ATTENDANCE
Director: Jennifer Machiorlatti
Fighting was the way they met. Allies are who they are now. This is the story of two former gang members living in Kalamazoo, Michigan, who made peace after almost 20-years of conflict in their neighborhood. Through forgiveness, reconciliation and education, they are changing the minds and hearts of urban youth.