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TUNED IN

He Searches His Soul and Others'

June 27, 2002|MARK SACHS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

When your lifelong belief in God is suddenly called into question, it's sometimes deemed a crisis of faith. But when this happens to a divinity student who is nearing graduation, the stakes run even higher.

Documentary filmmaker and minister-in-waiting Macky Alston takes viewers on a quest for some mighty big answers tonight in "Questioning Faith: Confessions of a Seminarian" (6:30 p.m. on Cinemax).

It was the death of a colleague from AIDS that sent Alston--like his friend, a 30-something gay man--reeling into his spiritual abyss. Feeling wounded to a depth that even he doesn't quite understand, Alston attempts to make some sense of God's plan, or whether even believing in a god who could take away an individual like Alan Smith made any sense at all.

He methodically examines the philosophies of people from all corners to see what makes their belief systems tick: Christians, Muslims, atheists, Jews, Buddhists, a God-fearing but strongly believing cancer patient. Yet he always goes back to his footage of Smith to gauge how any of the insights gleaned might reflect on the man's life and passing.

Alston, who won the Freedom of Expression Award at the 1997 Sundance Film Festival for his Emmy-nominated film "Family Name," sometimes blurs the focus with his shifts from big-picture questions to personal relationships. But the overall effect is powerful and resonates at a level all too rare on TV.

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