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Portrait Of God

Jon Bang Carlsen's thought-provoking documentary "Portrait of God" is both a moving depiction of men and women striving to grasp what religion is and an artistic film in its own right. Pic's beauty, humor and universal themes should make it an easy sell to specialized channels in search of quality product.

Jon Bang Carlsen’s thought-provoking documentary “Portrait of God” is both a moving depiction of men and women striving to grasp what religion is and an artistic film in its own right. Pic’s beauty, humor and universal themes should make it an easy sell to specialized channels in search of quality product.

Pretending he’s a detective on a mission to find out all there is about God and religion, Carlsen interviews people in South Africa, where he once lived. Helmer’s subjects are primarily the male inmates of a large prison, and to hear these violent men talk of their past, their crimes and how they found God, is both emotional and gripping. Pic alternates between interviews and breathtakingly composed shots — such as when the window in Carlsen’s home suddenly becomes a screen on which a helicopter view of a suburb and a prison are shown. A highly personal film, “Portrait of God” manages to make a specific subject widely relevant, as well as to provide an offbeat portrait of South Africa.

Portrait Of God

Denmark

  • Production: A Carlsen & Co. production. (International sales: C&C Prods., Lyngby, Denmark.) Produced, directed, written by Jon Bang Carlsen.
  • Crew: Camera (color), Carlsen; editor, Molly Stensgaard; music, Jan Garbarek. Reviewed at Haugesund Film Festival, Norway, Aug. 26, 2001. Running time: 80 MIN.