Preparations are gathering pace for the Maranatha Christian International Film Festival 2011, which is set to be held in Rochester, New York, on September 2nd 3rd.
A new film, “Manny’s Obituary,” is set to participate, which looks at the story of the Passion from a new modern-day viewpoint.
"Manny’s Obituary" is a 21-minute film from the First Brazilian Baptist Church of Los Angeles (PIBBLA), and has been written and directed by Brazilian Andre Wacemberg, with Alexander Aguirre (Director of Photography) and Dayane Melo (Producer).
The film explores the questions: “What if Jesus had lived on earth today? What would his death have been like?”
Wacemberg highlights in the movie that Jesus was sinless, revealing him as the one who only did good but yet died for the sin of others.
The film portrays Jesus as a teenager at school, and shows how Manny - Jesus today - changes the lives of those around him.
The film starts with an investigation being conducted into the circumstances of the death of a teenager known as Manny (Nickname for Emmanuel) who has been assassinated in a public school in Los Angeles by gang members.
Tammy Hill, played by actress Maria Olsen, investigates his death with the help of a law student called Carlos.
During investigations Manny's body mysteriously disappears from the morgue, just as Jesus’ body disappeared from the tomb.
In a dialogue with Manny`s friends Detective Tammy struggles to accept the supernatural arguments and instead believes a criminal conspiracy is a more likely explanation for events.
The 12 apostles are represented by students of the school. Matthew, who was a tax collector, is portrayed as a boy who takes money from others. But Manny transforms his life.
"Manny teaches him not to behave that way, and not to take anything that is not due," said Wacemberg.
Peter who denied Jesus, is represented in the movie as a friend who denies any involvement with Manny when questioned by the detective.
"When the detective investigates and asks 'What was your involvement with Manny?` he will deny saying: 'No I did not know this guy,' just as Peter denied Christ," Wacemberg explains.
Following his denials the school bell rings rather than the cock crowing as in the Biblical version of events.
Other characters at the time of Christ portrayed in the film include Mary Magdalene, who is played by a "girl who dates guys in the school.”
However, again Manny is the one who brings her freedom and she leaves her old ways behind.
Paul, the persecutor of Christ, becomes the gang leader who kills Manny. Making the analogy with Biblical account of the moment Paul "fell to earth" when he finally sees Jesus and is blinded for three days; in the film, he falls off his motorcycle and goes into a coma for three days.
"He has a vision of Manny and it changes his life, becoming one of his disciples," said the Brazilian director.
Tammy, whose name is a female version of Thomas, becomes a character who has to "see to believe." She becomes shocked at the end of the film when she sees Manny and realizes that he is alive.
The story was created from ideas of adolescents of the PIBBLA, in which Wacemberg is a member.
DVDs of the film are already available with legend in Portuguese and Spanish and can be accessed here.