This could easily have been a scathingly sarcastic documentary that ridiculed the American Christian hardcore scene. The filmmaker was devout atheist Justin Ludwig, who was well known in Regina (southern Canada) for putting on punk and hardcore shows and being the singer for Kleins96. After rebelling against his strict catholic upbringing, Justin Ludwig was incensed by the infiltration of Christians into the hardcore scene. He vented his fury by writing the song, “F*** Christian Hardcore… This Is Hell.”
The film was delayed by the economic crash of 2008 and allowed Ludwig to do more research and re-approach the project on a more informed basis in 2011. He chose to follow Texan newcomers, Messengers, and the well-known missionaries, Sleeping Giant. Ludwig stated “For the most part the scene is very positive and full of lots of bands that are reinforcing messages, and so you can sort of understand why, if you’re an impressionable young person, how easily you could get swept up in a movement like that because it’s really intense and really positive and inclusive”.
It follows Messengers as they head out on tour as they make their way over to Facedown Fest (where they are at the bottom of the bill and only get a twenty minute slot). Along the way you see an equal amount of moshing and prayer, plus the gritty reality of travelling around. Then it picks up again when it shifts to Sleeping Giant. Ludwig explains, “It really is a whole different world, particularly with Sleeping Giant. That’s probably obvious from the film, that their devotion is on a whole other level, but even with the younger band, they had a swear jar in their tour van, they would do Bible study in the van.”
Particularly noticeable is that the guys in Sleeping Giant care about their fans. It is clearly not about material gain as they carry out baptisms and faith healings without any demands for money. This is completely against the ethos of wealthy evangelists, who cannot see (and do not understand) that these sweaty, tattooed missionaries are working at the coal-face.
The film was not judgmental of the christian hardcore scene. It could have torn it apart but Ludwig said “I wanted to create a film that could be enjoyed and debated by Christians and atheists and everyone in between, so we strove to present our journey as plainly as possible”.
Reviewed by Peter John Willoughby
N.B. ChristCore will get its official UK and European premier screening at the UK christian hard music conference,
Video below ‘ChristCore’ trailer