When the outside world feels full of challenge a temptation can be to disappear into our rooms, retreating instead into the world of our devices.
What if we resolved instead to draw alongside one another, looking the world’s highs and lows in the eye, and engaging together with life’s big questions?
Films help us to connect with one another. They prompt and tee up discussion topics which matter to us all but might be difficult to raise in ordinary conversation. They allow us to share our experiences, opinions and feelings without forcing anyone into too vulnerable a position too soon.
On a simpler level, films help us to spend quality time together. A shared experience always helps a group bond. Just imagine all the references and memes you can get out of a funny film!
But how exactly do you put on a great film night? Here are my top tips:
Think rugs, blankets and cushions – and a good sofa (the backbone of a good film night). The idea here is to make the environment as nice as you can.
Your flatmates will appreciate any effort you put in and it will pay dividends down the line. A more comfortable environment may also help some feel more ready to discuss deeper topics, should the post film hang-out head in that direction.
My top tip: most student rooms have strong lighting – head to a homeware shop and buy the cheapest lamp with a nice mellow bulb… a guaranteed atmosphere maker!
Just as a comfortable space can make or break a film night, your evening will be greatly enhanced when you pay attention to the other senses.
People apparently rate dining experiences as more enjoyable and food tastier if a restaurant has enticing smells, appropriate music and beautifully ironed tablecloths (think yummy pasta eaten in a picturesque seaside bistro, gentle Italian music wafting towards your red-checked table!).
They’re also more likely to return to the restaurant.
Your goal is to host a film night that’s so good that your friends can’t wait to do it again. That means dessert, classy drinks, a pre-movie playlist and (of course) popcorn.
If you’re seeking inspiration, check out this Spotify playlist and this tutorial on popping popcorn!
No film night is truly a great without the chat with mates afterwards. Whether it’s simply unpicking the plot or debating the finer motives of the characters, it’s always worth chatting about.
As a Christian, your aim is to allow friends to share their opinions, letting your own hope shine as you share yours. Many people’s faith journeys are kickstarted as they begin to trust Christians and are intrigued by aspects of their beliefs.
Here are some suggestions to getting the ball rolling in conversation:
Here’s an example.
Parts of The Hunger Games movie are victoriously encouraging, showing what humans can do when we work together. But there are darker elements too. To save her sister, Catniss Everdeen must endure the tyrannical dictator President Snow’s sick and disturbing games, while most members of the Capitol stand idly by.
The film causes us to long for justice and feel sad for the world’s dark past.
Catniss’ journey is portrayed in a positive light. She learns to care for those who are weak and to fight against wrongdoing, whilst letting others into her own life too. As we watch an uprising unfold, we’re encouraged to think that things in our own world might be better – if only we work for that end.
Yet the film’s answer is somewhat dissatisfying. After all, for each stand for bravery and morality, a hundred seemingly intractable evils persist. Can we really undo the world’s pain and hurt? Furthermore, even those of us who are actively committed to making the world better are flawed – and we can’t help passing transmitted them onto our world.
Maybe humans are only a small shadow of the hope we need.
Anticipation is a powerful tool. Chat about what you could do next time. Pixar’s Coco with Mexican food? Pre-Lion King dinner with a Lion King playlist?
Committing to a plan and sticking with it is another good way to show your friends they’re important to you because of your relationship with Jesus.
And ultimately this is what Jesus calls us to – loving others in a multitude of ways. It might start with popping popcorn for your housemates, but down the line it might just be a vehicle for introducing them to Jesus.
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