Film explores story of the Apostle Paul

Jan. 23, 2014

by Käri Knutson

Filmmaker Robert Orlando will come to UW-Madison to screen his documentary, “A Polite Bribe: An Apostle’s Final Bid” at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 29 in the Marquee at Union South.

Graphic: Movie poster for A Polite Bribe

Orlando is an award-winning screenwriter and filmmaker who works in both commercial media and independent film. He is also an independent New Testament scholar whose interest in the Apostle Paul was first piqued in an undergraduate religious studies course.

The documentary uses animation and interviews with top scholars of Judaism and Christianity and explores the story of Paul, the earliest Jewish Christian author/leader of firsthand testimony.

“A Polite Bribe” had its New York premiere at the School of Visual Arts in December. UW-Madison is one of a handful of other venues chosen for a pre-theatrical release screening.

Orlando and a faculty panel of religion and media experts will prepare viewers for the film at a pre-screening lecture/discussion at 4:30 p.m. Jan. 29 in Union South. Further conversation with the filmmaker is possible after the screening and at 9:30 a.m. Jan. 30 for a coffee/discussion in Mosse Humanities Building.

Photo: Robert Orlando

Robert Orlando

“’A Polite Bribe’ compellingly raises questions too important for scholars and people of faith to ignore politely,” says UW-Madison senior lecturer in religious studies Corrie Norman, who teaches a course on Paul that regularly enrolls around 60 students.

“It’s a rare opportunity for students of Christian origins to see an argument constructed via visual media up-front in the course and then to explore and evaluate it over the term as their learning develops.”

Piecing together what might have happened is significant for understanding not only first-century religious developments but also Paul’s legacy for Jews and Christians today when identity politics, money and media representation still impact religious understanding, Norman says.

The film and discussion are part of a series of events, "What Happened to Paul and Why It Matters to Jews, Christians and the Media." The events are free and open to the public. Organized and sponsored by the Religious Studies Program, the events’ cosponsors and donors include the University Lectures Committee, Kemper K. Knapp Bequest Fund, The Lubar Institute for the Study of Abrahamic Religions, Mosse/Weinstein Center for Jewish Studies, WUD Film Committee, Theta Alpha Kappa (UW Chapter), Classics Department, Comparative Literature & Folklore Studies Department and the Digital Studies Program.