With statistics like "40% of Americans believe Jesus will return before 2050," the idea of Judgement Day is worth our attention--especially when someone calls its exact date. That's the subject of Apocalypse Later: Harold Camping vs. the End of the World, directed by Zeke Pestrup, a respectful nonbeliever genuinely fascinated by Christian culture.
The flick had its VOD release last month, as well as a front-page spread with the 80-year-old journalism hub for spirituality and ethics, The Religion News Service.
Using Camping's convictions as a jumping-off point, Apocalypse Later traces the roots of end times proclamations from the Book of Daniel, to the historical Jesus, to the Apostle Paul. And within the 2011 storyline that follows the would-be prophet's prediction--then humble revision--of Judgement Day, the film balances Camping, his supporters and his detractors. Among the heavyweight scholars weighing in are John J Collins, Yale Divinity School; Bart Ehrman, University of North Carolina's Dept. of Religious Studies; Loren Stuckenbruck, Princeton Theological Seminary; and Peter Lillback, President of Westminster Theological Seminary.
Co-produced by Carl King & Zeke Piestrup, the documentary is steadily finding its audience. In 2013, Apocalypse Later played at the Big Bear Lake Internaional Film Festival, the Blue Whiskey Independent Film Festival in Illinois and the Rhode Island International Film Festival; the latter two honored Piestrup with the Promising New Filmmaker Award and the Future Filmmaker Award, respectively.
Since then, libraries have bought screeners, it's been made available in millions of homes, and it screened at the prestigious Society of Biblical Literature's regional conference in Fullerton, then its annual meeting in Baltimore (the largest gathering of religious scholars in the world). Piestrup shot footage at those events and at the Evangelical Theological Society's annual meeting for his next documentary on Fundamentalism.
We just hope it's released before 2050.
June 22, 2014
Photo Credit: Michael Macor, San Francisco Chronicle