From the Sistine Chapel to da Vinci’s, The Last Supper, fresco paintings are some of the oldest and most durable forms of artwork known to man.
At the intersection of faith and art, Theirs is the Kingdom is a feature-length documentary directed by Christopher Zaluski that follows the rare creation of a contemporary fresco mural by Christopher Holt inside the sanctuary of a small church in Asheville, North Carolina.
"I was told about this fresco that they were thinking of painting in the sanctuary of a church on the outskirts of downtown, a church that primarily works with the homeless population," said Zaluski. "I was initially told about it because there was some funding controversy surrounding it."
Christopher wanted to know more, so he decided to visit the church.
"They were doing a public dialogue, and the pastor of this church, Brian Combs, did this talk about what the fresco meant to him and the church," Christopher explains. "Within the first five minutes of his talk, I knew that this was a bigger story than the controversy. It was a story about the history of fresco and the folks depicted in this painting."
Unlike historical fresco paintings that depict traditional religious figures or political icons, this painting features individuals on the fringes of society whose stories are often forgotten.
"The pastor said that there is something about looking at another human being that requires acknowledging their dignity," Zaluski said. "That is something that folks living on the streets or the margins of society are confronted with. Invisibility where people won't look at or acknowledge them."
As Haywood Street Congregation Founding Pastor Rev. Brian Combs says, “Poverty, in so many ways, makes people feel invisible. One of the beautiful things about this fresco is that it’s going to make folks who have felt unseen and unheard their whole lives immortal.”
"I thought the symbolism in that was very powerful," said Christopher.
Christopher hopes that blending that beauty with the stories of those whom society has cast aside will create a powerful film that will hopefully urge viewers to examine their judgements and beliefs.
Today on Connections, Christopher Zaluski shares why he decided to create this documentary. He also shares how this project changed his mindset and approach to filmmaking, community, and religion.