Groovy Documentary Atheism

Let me convince you to help fund a movie. This is the year for positive, uplifting atheist documentaries. (Well, actually, next year. They are being made now. They’ll probably be out then.) Two are already nearly in the can, The Scarlett Letter and Coming Out in America. Letter (directed by John Jennings) focuses on atheist leaders (not solely, but largely) and explores their lives and philosophy and the growing movement of organized atheism in America and what’s driving it (as you’ll see in the trailer, I was interviewed and will likely be among those featured in it). Out (directed by Christophe Fauchère) focuses on the goals and challenges of atheists “coming out” as atheists and dealing with the backlash from friends, family, coworkers, and community, and why more and more atheists are doing it, especially in colleges and high schools. Two great documentaries I am definitely looking forward to.

But there is another that might get made, if the filmmaker can raise the money to do it. And I think if you can help, you definitely should. It’s Hug an Atheist, and it sets itself apart from those other two films in ways that make it yet another film I really want to see, if only we can find enough financial supporters to make it possible. It will be directed by Sylvia Broeckx, a cool Belgian girl living in the UK, and that is unique feature number one: she comes from a background of European culture that simply sees nothing like the hostility to atheism we do over here, and she has become increasingly appalled by it (her trailer exemplifies what I mean, as does her accompanying mission statement). She will be able to give us a nuanced compare-and-contrast point of view between how it is and how it could be, informed by her foreign background and point of view.

But unique feature number two is even more important: she will be focusing not just on documenting the unusual hostility and ignorance and fear and bigotry toward atheists and atheism in America, but even more on showing positive atheist values and what atheist lives and families are really like. As Sylvia puts it in her video:

The film will show how [atheists] find meaning and purpose by highlighting how they deal with some of life’s key aspects, such as family, work, love, marriage, and grief.

Photo of Tessa Tinney, a godless mom (who loves her kids as much as anybody)This is really something of value we need to see produced and available. Several other atheist movement leaders have endorsed the project and want to see it made as well, including Hemant Mehta and Greta Christina. I’m with them on this.

Sylvia is a professional filmmaker and will be fronting nearly half of the $50,000 budget, but she needs $27,000 of it to come from outside investors. You won’t get any ownership of the film, but you will get various gifts the more you give (see her Indiegogo page, and look at the options down the right margin: the more you donate, the cooler stuff you get, although really you will just be giving to see the film get made, and that’s reason enough). At last look she had raised only a tenth of her goal, and she can’t go forward with the project if she doesn’t meet her target (she will already be fronting a lot of the cost herself, and these kinds of projects are not cheap to pull off).

As with most funding sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, if she doesn’t reach her target, all your money is refunded. If she does reach her target, the film gets made. And then you’ll get to see it next year. So it can’t hurt to pledge something. This kind of project really needs wealthy donors who can pledge a lot (so do, if you can). But if enough small donations come in, that can make a difference, too. That would require you to get more people than just yourself on board, so if you want to see this film made like I do, try to convince at least two more people to join you, and try to convince them each to get two more people to join them, and so on. I have donated $100 to her project myself. Can we convince 250 people to do the same?

Let’s try!


  1. drdave says

    Richard, you successfully recruited me for an equal amount, and I put it up on Facebook. Perhaps I can snare some of my HSGP friends.

    • says

      Oh that’s wild. I read that several times to proof it and every time I saw “an” where there was “and.”

      Good example of what Dennett was talking about in Consciousness Explained: our brain fills in what we see with what it thinks is there, not necessarily with what our eyes are telling it is there.


  2. empiricallyyours says

    Thanks for the heads up on these great projects Richard. Couple of things, Sylvia is Belgian and a typo, Hug and Atheist should be ‘an’.

    • says

      Thanks for noticing, it made me smile that someone noticed. My passport says I’m Belgian, but my first language is Dutch and if anything, my nationality is Flemish (Flanders). So it can get confusing at the best of times and hence I didn’t mind, I was just so happy that Richard cared enough to share and even donate. I’m a happy bunny. :)

  3. fullyladenswallow says

    Thanks for posting this Richard.

    This is great! Contributed and looking forward to the documentary.

    No disrespect Richard, but you don’t seem old enough to be using the word “groovy”. What personality from the 70’s would you be channeling? Or are words/phrases like “groovy”, “far out” and “bitchen” making a come-back?

  4. Numenaster says

    @Roo, “bitchin'” is common usage here on the west coast. Note the change in spelling–pronunciation is the same, however.