1946: The Mistranslation That Shifted A Culture | Review | DOC NYC 2022

1946: The Mistranslation that Shifted Culture is the directorial debut of Sharon Roggio. Bringing both a personal and analytical lens, Roggio explores the impact of the mistranslation in the Bible that led to a movement of hatred in the church. We learn early in the film that the first time the word "homosexual" was used in the Bible was 1946, just 76 years ago from where we're sitting in 2022. For many, this will be new information because the discovery of never before seen archives from Yale University, alongside other research, becomes the foundation of the film.

Sexuality and identity have long been taboo in the church, and 1946 wishes to break down the barriers and have a frank conversation about the issue at hand. In the film's synopsis, the impetus is laid out plain and simple:

While other documentaries have been successful in their attempt to treat the symptom of homophobia in the church, 1946 is working to diagnose and treat the disease - Biblical Literalism.

Unlike documentaries that treat the symptom, 1946 wishes to come from a place of knowledge. As is said in Proverbs 15:14: The discerning heart seeks knowledge, but the mouth of a fool feeds on folly. Rejecting folly, Roggio documents the research done by people like Reverend Davis S, Revereden Dr Anderson and Rabbi Greenberg, among others and places it in present-day activism from people such as Kathy Baldock and Ed Oxford. 

For those seeking the hard facts, Roggio delivers, but for those more inclined to tales of the personal, she vulnerably opens up her own story to be the beating heart of the film. 

At its core, 1946 is a father/daughter story. Sharon Roggio grew up in what she describes as a loving home as the daughter of a Christian pastor. She realised she was a lesbian from a young age and states: that she was "robbed ... of being able to come out to [her] family on [her] own terms". Roggio's father is also in the film but is, unfortunately, finding it hard to be dissuaded from what he has known to be true. He makes attempts to engage with the research but cannot separate himself from lifelong teachings. It would be easy for him to become the antagonist, but his views become a case study for the damage caused by the mistranslation. The audience may get exasperated by his hard-headedness, but never once does the film look to point fingers. By opening up to her audience, Roggio invites people to identify with the fragmented relationship. There's no visible contention between the two. It is all internal. It's painstaking at times how much is getting left unsaid on screen. 

The film could've easily slipped into being an extended lecture on the remarkable research. However, by rooting it in the reality of the contributors of the film Roggio makes it easy for an audience to identify with the story at hand. Its vulnerability, sensitivity and resilience is its strength, and it provides a valuable lesson in listening and understanding.

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