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Local Filmmaker’s Movie Hits At Core Of Church Abuse

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NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) - An Arlington filmmaker’s first effort was featured at the Dallas International Film Festival. The feature film was shown Wednesday night at the Angelika Film Center.

But, what really has people talking is the topic of the movie — one that is typically viewed as taboo in the local church.

“It’s about a family who discovers their son has been molested by their pastor,” explained Ya’Ke Smith.

Smith wrote and directed the film “Wolf.”

When asked what a wolf was Smith responded, “A very sly predator. He waits for the right opportunity and then he pounces.”

The movie centers on a 16-year-old boy and a charismatic pastor, who is also a father figure and friend of the boy’s family.

“When they discover it, it tears them totally apart. And the film really is about them trying to put the pieces back together,” Smith said.

The movie shoot took 15 days, but planning for it took two years.

In between, Smith kept up with classes as an Associate Film Professor at the University of Texas at Arlington.

Smith says he was raised in the church and currently attends The Potter’s House.

“I’m a Christian,” he said. “I believe in the institution. But, I also believe we try to hide things.”

There are many others that agree with Smith.

“This is something the church has dealt with in silence for a long time,” said Dr. Waters, the Senior Pastor at Joy Tabernacle AME in Dallas.

Waters believes the film will bring healing to victims and predators.

“There’s a wonderful scripture that says, ‘The truth shall set you free,'” he said. “The opportunity for this truth to come forth may in fact free other pastors.”

“Wolf” debuted at South by Southwest (SXSW) to mostly positive reviews, but that’s not why Smith made it.

“I hope this film will spark conversation so things can change,” he said of the effort. “Every screening I go to, people say ‘Thank you for telling this story. Thank you for putting my life up there.’ This is something we need to talk about. That’s what I made the film for anyway. So, I think it’s a success.”

Smith, along with his co-producer and longtime friend Ralph Lopez, raised $3,000 to help make the film, but both men paid for most of the film costs out of their own pockets.

Smith and Lopez are now hoping to secure a distributor for their film.

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