'Jesus Camp' Oscar Nomination Stirs Mixed Reactions

( [email protected] ) Jan 23, 2007 06:14 PM EST

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - The Rev. Becky Fischer says an Oscar-nominated film about her summer camp for children has brought hate mail as well as praise, and she has no plans to attend the Academy Awards.

"Maybe we shouldn't have prayed so hard for the movie to be a success," Fischer said Tuesday after learning about the Oscar nomination for her film, Jesus Camp, in the documentary category.

"I'm not interested in going to the Academy Awards," she said. "I'm happy for the filmmakers but I don't know how to feel about it, honestly."

New York-based filmmakers Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady shot the documentary over a year starting in April 2005. The summer camp part of the film was shot during a weeklong session in Devils Lake, in northeast North Dakota.

The film has drawn criticism from secular organizations, as well as some from Fischer's own charismatic Christian community, who accuse her of brainwashing children. She said her goal is to help young people become committed Christians.

Fischer has called the film a fair if not entirely accurate portrayal of her ministry. She said members of her group prayed often for the film, during shooting.

The Kids on Fire camp in Devils Lake, which is owned by the Assemblies of God and rents to several groups, was vandalized after the release of the movie last year, Fischer said.

"It was a very direct result of the film," said Fisher, who lives in Bismarck. "It never occurred to me that people would take out their aggressions on a campground."

Fischer said she will no longer hold camps in Devils Lake, and will instead schedule summertime conferences her F.I.R.E (Families Ignited for Revival & Evangelism) Center in downtown Mandan, across the river from Bismarck.

Magnolia Pictures still has not released the Jesus camp film in the Bismarck area, at her request. Fischer said she is worried about a backlash - and she worries the Academy Awards could bring even more trouble for her.

"Some of these people want to do me bodily harm," Fischer said. "The minute this hit the theaters, I received hate mail and hate phone calls. Things had finally settled down around here."

Other films nominated for best documentary feature include "An Inconvenient Truth," Al Gore's film on the perils of global warming; "Deliver Us From Evil," about the sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church; "Iraq in Fragments," about the Sunni-Shiite conflict in that country; and "My Country, My Country," about the months leading up to the January 2005 elections in Iraq.

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