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Inspired by the 168-Hour Film Project, Christian filmmakers Gary Emrick and Christopher Shawn Shaw created a movie that revolves around the infamous Bibles that Gideon International has stashed away in hotel nightstand drawers for over a century. While One Nightstand was meant to be shown in Bible classes and church small groups, it actually has an air of professionalism not found in most similar films. Recently, it claimed Third Place for Best Short Film by the 2013 International Christian Film Festival (ICFF), and screened publicly for the first time on Friday, May 10, 2013 at the Village Church of Santa Clarita, Emrick’s home congregation.*
Starring pastor-comedian Thor Ramsey as a flustered traveling businessman, tempted to cheat on his wife, One Nightstand opens the door to discussing uncomfortable topics – adultery, singleness and involuntary celibacy, divorce and remarriage, and prostitution – in the church. (Exactly where they need to be discussed more often!) While the acute viewer might claim that a sense of shame might be playing a stronger role that is given credit for, the film does show how the reading of God’s Word and the personal testimonies of believers can be powerful influences on people’s immediate actions. The verdict is still out, of course, on long-term effects.
Although released a bit out of season – the setting is decidedly Christmas-y! - One Nightstand offers a message that people can appreciate all year round. I might be in the minority when I say that the film might be spoiled by a continuing series. Left open-ended, it potentially has greater appeal to churches with a wide variety of beliefs and solutions for these issues. In addition, I realized that my impression of the prostitute differed greatly from the filmmaker’s vision. His part 2 idea focusing on a streetwalker’s angry pimp is far cry from the image of a sophisticated, and quite expensive, “escort service” that entered my mind.
As you might have guessed, One Nightstand is not exactly suitable for children, but it’s definitely more than necessary for a number of adults. Actors Kimberly Durrett, Charles Anteby, and Nathan Ford make for a convincing cast, and the common travel annoyances make the lead character easy to relate to before the temptation is introduced. Go ahead and take the 20 minutes to view the film. You might never look at Gideon Bibles the same way again.
* I sincerely apologize for the delay in getting this review out. The original post was lost when my notebook computer went suspiciously missing (e.g., was probably stolen).