‘A Case for Love’ to be screened during General Convention, available for rental in October

By David Paulsen
Posted Jun 11, 2024

[Episcopal News Service] The feature-length documentary “A Case for Love,” inspired by and featuring Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, notched impressive numbers for its single-day theatrical release on Jan. 23 in theaters across the United States. The 25,000 tickets sold placed it 10th out of all movies playing in the country on that one night, and it finished third in revenue per screen, on 821 screens.

“I live in such a place of gratefulness right now,” director Brian Ide told Episcopal News Service in describing the success of the film’s premiere. “It was a movie that was built to bring people together at a time when many of us are being pulled apart,” he said, so he was thrilled that so many people experienced it for the first time together in theaters.

Now, Ide’s team at the nonprofit Grace-Based Films has reached a new distribution agreement that should make “A Case for Love” available on digital rental services around Oct. 1, expanding its potential audience exponentially.

Two additional theatrical screenings are planned this month as part of the 81st General Convention, the triennial churchwide meeting, which convenes June 23-28 in Louisville, Kentucky. Those two free screenings, at 2:30 and 7 p.m. June 23 at Louisville’s Bomhard Theater, are sponsored by the dioceses of Texas and Long Island. No reservations are required.

A Case for Love photos

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry was one of hundreds of people interviewed about the Christian notion of unselfish love for “A Case for Love,” a documentary that premiered Jan. 23. Photos: Grace-Based Films

Grace-Based Films was founded by Ide with fellow members of All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Beverly Hills, California, some of whom worked in the film industry. As an independent nonprofit, it plans to devote revenue from “A Case for Love” to funding future storytelling projects.

The documentary is structured as seven chapters featuring 14 individual stories of people from a wide range of backgrounds, whom Ide described as “ordinary people doing ordinary-to-extraordinary things.” The stories cover a wide range of experiences, from racial justice issues and the fight for LGBTQ+ rights to the foster care system and the military.

Between each chapter, the filmmakers include clips from some of their “people on the street” interviews, as well as some well-known public figures in politics, the arts and religion, such as Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, actor Sam Waterston and the Rev. Kelly Brown Douglas, canon theologian of Washington National Cathedral.

And though “A Case for Love” isn’t a profile of Curry, the presiding bishop is interviewed on screen and provides what Ide has described as the film’s “spiritual heartbeat.”

Grace-Based Films worked with the entertainment distribution company Fathom Events to arrange for the Jan. 23 theatrical premiere. Fathom Events’ business model involves booking theaters on weeknights, when there typically is less competition from big-budget productions and theater owners are more open to creative ways to fill seats.

Movie poster

After a Jan. 23 theatrical premiere, “A Case for Love” is scheduled for digital rental starting in October.

The response was overwhelmingly positive, Ide told ENS, from the cascading excitement of people posting to social media about attending the movie to the direct feedback Grace-Based Films received from Episcopal leaders, ecumenical partners and secular organizations.

“I was blown away by ‘A Case for Love,'” Kara Jarzynski said in a selection of testimonials assembled by Grace-Based Films. Jarzynski is executive director of Resolutionaries, an organization that works toward positive civic engagement.

“As a leader in the national movement to bring Americans together, to inspire respectful conversation and to build bridges across ideological and political divides, I found the film an utterly engaging, emotionally rich, vital reminder of the most powerful tool at our disposal: love.”

Renowned theologian Walter Brueggemann called the documentary “a compelling exhibit of a social practice that boldly contradicts the conventional practice of fear, scarcity, parsimony and violence.”

“This film is a welcome wake-up call among those who have too readily settled for an economy of fear,” Brueggemann said. “The makers of this film daringly bear witness to ‘a more excellent way’ in the world.”

Ide said the October timing of the release of the film on rental services was intended both as a tribute to Curry, who will conclude his nine-year term as presiding bishop on Oct. 31, and to amplify the message of love over divisiveness as the United States approaches its Nov. 5 presidential election.

“I think people – we’re all so tired,” Ide said. “We’re tired of being divided.” He thinks the case being made by the success of “A Case for Love” is that Americans are hungry for the tools to build bridges and heal those divides.

– David Paulsen is a senior reporter and editor for Episcopal News Service based in Wisconsin. He can be reached at dpaulsen@episcopalchurch.org.