Beyond the Gates of Splendor is a new feature length documentary about the Christian mission work with the Huaorani in Ecuador. It tells how the missionary families came close to the tribe, and how the deaths of five missionaries by spearing in 1956 preceeded a deeper relationship between the tribe and the widows and children of the murdered men.
I just previewed this DVD for use in the church and found it to be excellent work, a very personal conversation with the missionary families, with insights into how the Huaroani understand themselves and outsiders.
Among the interesting pieces of trivia about this film in the Internet Movie Database is the fact that the tribe initially said no when asked for permission to film their story. After they heard about the school shootings happening in the United States they changed their minds and gave permission for their story to be told. They hoped their turn from violence to peace could be an example for others.
I am very impressed by this documentary and wish I had learned about it earlier in the year. I want to find a way to screen it at the church before January 8, 2006 (the fiftieth anniversary of the deaths of the missionaries). I expect the session of Central Church to be supportive, but I wonder when we can screen it with all the events that are already being planned over the next couple of holiday months.
End of the Spear is a dramatization of the story to be released in theaters in 2006.