By Michael Lehman, Editor-in-Chief
Two Huntington University alumni will return to their roots on Tuesday, Nov. 19 for the world premiere of their new documentary, The Last Apostle: Journeys in the Holy Land. 2015 film graduates Matt Whitney and Logan Bush will host an exclusive screening of their feature-length work for students and the public at 7:00 PM in Zurcher Auditorium.
Admission to the event is free, and chapel credit will be available for students who attend.
Shot over a period of 19 days in the summer of 2017, The Last Apostle follows the archaeological escapades of Mark Fairchild, the chair of HU’s department of Bible and religion, as he explores holy sites across Turkey. This includes the world’s oldest known synagogue in Southeastern Turkey, which Fairchild discovered himself over a decade ago. According to Whitney, Fairchild managed to successfully identify the site by studying late 19th century writings from British archaeologist J. Theodore Brent.
Whitney likened Fairchild to Spielberg’s whip-cracking Indiana Jones, calling him “the last classic adventurer/archaeologist.”
“When we set out to make a documentary on Dr. Fairchild, we wanted to create a snapshot of a remarkable man’s life,” Whitney said. “It’s not just that the work he does is fascinating — because it is. His work in Turkey is indispensable to biblical history and a deeper understanding of scripture.”
The documentary features many locations that were significant to the life of St. Paul the Apostle, whose first missionary journey inspired the route taken in the documentary. This includes destinations like the island of Cypress and the city of Pisidian Antioch where Paul evangelized during the first century.
At one point, the documentary follows Fairchild as he meets and travels with a shepherd claiming to know about some ancient ruins that are new to Fairchild.
Whitney and Bush’s inspiration for the documentary was born during a 2014 J-term trip to Israel with Fairchild. But their second journey to the Middle East proved to be much different from the first.
“On our trip alone, we climbed several mountains, one of which has only ever been summitted by locals,” Whitney said. “We frequently risked physical danger to access a lesser-known site. When Dr. Fairchild is by himself in the field, his routine is even more vigorous than it was with us. In fact, despite the nearly 40-year age difference between himself and us, we were often the ones keeping up with him.”
As a young filmmaker, Whitney added that the experience was educational for himself and Bush. The Last Apostle is the product of years of work — a streamlined cut of what began as hundreds of hours of footage from the shoot and from interviews with Fairchild and his colleagues across the globe.
Directly after the screening, Whitney, Bush and Fairchild will facilitate a Q&A for those in attendance. Whitney and Bush’s vision for the documentary is for its story to reach audiences at churches and film festivals around the world, but Whitney said they felt it was “appropriate to share it for the first time at Huntington University since that’s where we were connected with Dr. Fairchild.”
Doors open for the event at 6:30 PM. A slideshow of photos from the trip will play for students as they wait in the auditorium. Following the event and its Q&A, DVD copies of The Last Apostle will be available for students to purchase at a discounted price.
“While this documentary is a recounting of St. Paul’s early Christian life, it is also the portrait of a man so committed to living the abundant life Jesus promises us in John 10:10,” Whitney said. “It’s not often that you meet someone who’s very existence screams to be told on the screen. But Dr. Fairchild, just like Saint Paul, is one of those people.”