Crews hopes film festival will spread light in the darkness

"This festival isn't for film buffs" ... Bill Crews.
"This festival isn't for film buffs" ... Bill Crews.

TOM CRUISE, Penelope Cruz and now Bill Crews.

The Uniting Church Minister and founder of the Exodus Foundation has joined the movie world by creating a film festival with a difference.

Instead of just entertaining viewers, the Big Picture Film Festival aims to inspire them to get involved in social justice causes.

Twelve documentaries will screen over the next week, covering such subjects as living with autism, traumatised war veterans rebuilding their lives after returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, Bangladeshi prostitutes organising better working conditions and a Jesuit priest who turns around the lives of gang members in East Los Angeles.

Reverend Crews realised the need for a social justice film festival when he ran a charity screening of the Aung San Suu Kyi biopic The Lady two years ago. He recruited the critic Eddie Cockrell to help program films and enlisted support from retired judge Michael Kirby, critic David Stratton, author Thomas Keneally, Kevin Rudd, and TV personalities Chris Bath and Jessica Rowe as ambassadors.

''This festival isn't for film buffs - for people who talk about this camera angle or that,'' Mr Crews said. ''It's actually a call for people to get involved.''

Profits will go to the Bill Crews Charitable Trust, which helps poor and often homeless children in Thailand, Hong Kong and Africa.

''The world is a pretty dark place at the moment,'' Mr Crews said. ''It's being run by bankers who haven't got any vision. So everybody is worried about money and feeling dark.

''I thought, what we need is something that shows people hope. That's what these stories do - they talk about people standing up and fighting for justice.''

The festival opens with Silence In The House of God: Mea Maxima Culpa, which investigates the Vatican's cover-up of decades of sexual abuse at an American deaf school.

Cockrell said the festival was a showcase for films that might otherwise be overlooked.

The festival runs at Event Cinema in George Street, Sydney, from Wednesday until Tuesday.

This story Crews hopes film festival will spread light in the darkness first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.