For 88 years, a small Oklahoma town has staged the Passion Play on a bizarre reproduction of Jerusalem built into the Wichita foothills. The pageant is put on by the very devout Christian community. When the man playing Jesus retires, Zack finds himself in the role, but is struggling with the secret that he is actually a Buddhist. What do you do when you’re harbouring a secret that could see you pushed out of the thing you love doing, and how will people look at you once that secret is revealed?

These are the questions that plagued Zack though the latter half of Jesus Town USA. The documentary does a good job using the first act of the documentary to establish the history and tradition of the pageant. Then in the last two acts it delves into the true dilemma of the story. Zack, born into a Christian family, discovered Buddhism while at work and had secretly been practicing.

Now that he has been cast to play Jesus in the play for the town, he’s starting to have doubts as to whether he should be playing the role when he isn’t a “true believer.” Zack isn’t the only one struggling. Once his secret is slowly revealed to his parents, the pastor and the rest of the congregation, you start to see reservations and doubts start to fill the people around him.

Is Jesus Town USA essential festival viewing?

Yes. While at times the documentary seems a little put on, the message is still there. Everyone at some point in their lives will have to struggle with a decision in the same vein as Zack. This documentary is a great example of coming to terms with who you are and accepting yourself no matter what other people think.

Jesus Town USA screening times

Jesus Town USA trailer

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