The Heart of Man review: Raw stories worth telling
The Heart of Man is a raw, confronting movie that some people will absolutely hate.
But the docu-drama, which deals with issues of sexual abuse, pornography, lust, same sex attraction, and father-son relationships, is already opening up conversations about secrets of shame that people have hidden for a lifetime.
The movie had its Australian premiere on the Sunshine Coast on Wednesday night and the aftermath of its screening was as powerful as the movie itself.
In a question and answer session with some of the movie's team, including The Shack author William Paul Young, one woman told of how she had been abused.
She then asked the question many have asked - where was God when such abuse was happening?
Young, who was abused himself as a child, gave a long, thoughtful answer in which he reminded people that God had given men 'free choice' and part of that free choice allowed for them to do the most horrible things.
But he says he believes, now looking back, that God was with him, even in his abuse - and even when he became a 'predator' himself as a young child.
"The Heart of Man" uses spectacular scenery and imagery to retell the parable of the Prodigal Son.
The story includes people's stories of personal and sexual brokenness, including Young's painful account of his own adultery with his wife, Kim, the mother of their six children.
A former SWAT officer also tells of his multiple affairs, as does another who had seven 'one night stands' before being discovered.
Another young man tells of his sexual addiction, while a young woman talks of being abused as a young girl before turning into a highly sexualised person who pursued same-sex relationships.
The message of the movie is clear - that shame is not a barrier to God's love, but a bridge to transformation and hope.
The beautiful scenery and music in the film is a welcome contrast to the confronting subjects it deals with.
It comes at a time that churches around Australia - and the world - are under fire - and rightly so - for their failure to deal with sexual abuse.
Young hopes the film will prompt church people - and the wider community - to be open about their own shame - including past hurts.
He believes that it is only when secrets are brought to the light - including through professional counselling - that they can be fully dealt with.
The Heart of Man is a heavy film but if it opens up conversations it can be a powerful tool to help people battling rejection, issues with their own fathers, sexual addiction, pornography and the lifelong fallout from sexual abuse.
Starring Justin Torrence and Robert Fleet, who have no lines in the 74 minute production, it is very much about a father's unrelenting love for a son, that is not based on what he does, but who he is.
Written by Eric Esau, Jason Pamer and Jonathan Sharpe, the Heart of Man is in cinemas across Australia for two nights only on June 26 and 27.