Waco residents and Baylor students will be among the first to see the new film “Risen,” which was directed by Baylor alumnus Kevin Reynolds. Baylor Student Activities has collaborated with the Waco Hippodrome and Sony Pictures to premiere the film early and for free at 8 p.m. today.
Tickets for the film are available on the Student Activities website. Director of Student Activities Matt Burchett said many of the tickets have already been claimed, despite the fact that the screening of the film was only finalized last Thursday.
“Risen,” which stars Joseph Fiennes and Tom Felton, shows the search for the body of Jesus Christ in the days after his death. The film adopts the perspective of Clavius (Fiennes), a Roman centurion who is tasked with finding the body to prevent an uprising in the city of Jerusalem.
Those who see the film tonight will get the chance to comment on it before its nationwide release Feb. 19. Audience members’ comments may be included in trailers or promotional materials for the film, Burchett said.
“It’ll be one of those environments where the film will be screened, and then as people walk out they’ll be videotaped and [asked] ‘Well, what did you think?’” Burchett said. “These are the moments where they capture that feedback as they prep for the official release of the film.”
Burchett said the production company believed that the film would resonate well with the Baylor and Waco. The film was produced by Affirm Films, a branch of Sony. Affirm has also released “War Room,” “Soul Surfer” and “Fireproof.”
Of course, the greatest tie between the film and its audience tonight is director Reynolds, who graduated from Baylor in 1974 and from Baylor Law School in 1976. Reynolds is also the son of former Baylor president Herbert H. Reynolds. In addition to “Risen,” he has directed several episodes of the television miniseries “Hatfields and McCoys,” “Tristan + Isolde” and “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.”
Associate Professor Christopher Hansen, the director of the department of film and digital media, said seeing what a former Baylor student is capable of can inspire current students to do the same.
“I think that students should want to see the work that is being done by someone that is successful and that came from the same place they are now. I think that’s a great opportunity to see that this is the quality of work being done by somebody who went here. It’s inspirational in some ways, and in other ways it’s kind of a [reminder] to put your nose to the grindstone,” Hansen said.
Even though Reynolds did not study film at Baylor, pursuing law studies instead, he can still be a model for students in the film or other creative departments, Hansen said.
Beyond career inspiration, student viewers may be drawn to the film’s subject matter.
“I think this is a unique twist on the resurrection story, to see it from the perspective of a non-Christian and from the Roman leadership, to see what Christ meant historically and spiritually to the world during that timeframe,” Burchett said. “The exposure to great art and great theater in our city is an important component of building Waco and exposing our students to grand and bigger ideas. This opportunity to host a screening is just another manifestation of being able to bring great art to our community.”