The Calling

It takes a true calling to make faith a way of life.

Calling 03
Independent Lens
Premiere Date
December 20, 2010
240 minutes
Funding Initiative
Series and Special Projects
  • Award laurels-r Created with Sketch.
    2011 Hugo Television Awards-Silver Hugo Award
  • Alpert daniel filmmaker bio
    Series Director/Executive Producer

    Danny Alpert

    Daniel Alpert is a producer, director, and editor whose films have aired on PBS, HBO, and A&E, among others. His film The Calling will air nationally in 2010. His most recent film, A Doula Story, documented one woman's fierce commitment to empower pregnant teenagers with the skills and knowledge they need to become confident, nurturing mothers. This Show more film was distributed to PBS stations nationwide and was the centerpiece of a national community engagement and education campaign. Previously, Alpert co-produced and edited Legacy, a feature length documentary for HBO, which was nominated for a 2001 Academy Award, an Emmy Award, and was an official selection at the 2000 Sundance Film Festival. Show less

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    The Film

    The Calling is a four-hour documentary series that follows seven Muslims, Catholics, Evangelical Christians, and Jews on a dramatic journey — training to become professional clergy. Embarking on life paths that demand tremendous personal sacrifice and commitment, these seminarians must uphold timeless truths in an era that values quick fixes and hot trends, and face a public that challenges the very relevance of their mission. A new look at an old job, The Calling takes viewers into the unknown world of seminaries to tell entertaining and compelling personal stories of how faith is lived today.The Calling intercuts its characters’ stories from their first days of training, through years of study, and into their early practice as religious professionals. We follow them within and beyond the walls of their schools, confronting the sacrifices they’ve made to pursue this path. We see them debate theology and philosophy, learn to deliver sermons, perform their first weddings and funerals, and counsel people in crisis. We also experience them as young people at the crossroads of their lives, struggling with dating, partners, family, and other challenges of “coming of age.”

    These young people are charismatic and real, driven and self-reflective, confident and humble. They are seeking to reconcile the modern world and their faith through music and activism; balancing their egos and their desire to serve and blazing new paths to leadership while conserving age-old traditions.

    The United States is one of the most religiously observant and spiritually diverse countries in the world, yet mainstream media has surprisingly underrepresented the significance of faith in our lives, and our pluralism has been explored almost exclusively in terms of race and culture. Documentaries that have been produced on faith often focus on single faiths, church scandals, fundamentalist extremists, or religion’s polarizing effect on society. The Calling underscores our spiritual common ground and offers intimate portraits that provide a fresh, nuanced portrayal of faith in America.