Director Ya'Ke Smith's 'Wolf' Exposes Sex Abuse In the Black Church
8 months ago
Filmmaker says he loves the Church, but the temple needs cleansing.
There was a time when sexual abuse in the church was thought to be the exclusive province of the Catholic church, but in recent years mushrooming allegations of sexual abuse have reared its ugly head in the black church as well, shaking once heavily populated congregations to their very foundations.
With his new movie "Wolf," filmmaker Ya'ke Smith wants to shine a light in the darkness of a taboo subject that has lurked (and thrived) in the shadows for years.
"The title comes from the analogy 'a wolf in sheep's clothing,'" explained Smith. "The preacher is hiding in this God-like clothing, coming off as a spiritual person who is helping everyone, but he's lurking through the congregation, looking for the weaklings. From his actions, he is also turning other boys into wolves, promoting that cycle of abuse."
In the wake of the Bishop Eddie Long scandal, where the once blemish-free, mega-church preacher found himself settling out of court with a group of teenage boys who accused him of luring them with extravagant gifts in exchange for sex, there are those who might say that "Wolf" is coming at an opportune time. The film has been making its rounds around the country via the film festival circuit. Though it has yet to secure distribution for screenings in movie theaters, it is still one of the most talked about independent films today.
Loop 21 caught up with Smith to ask what compelled him to turn this forbidden topic into a film.
Loop 21: Might as well get the obvious out of the way. Is "Wolf" about the Bishop Eddie Long scandal?
Ya'ke Smith: No. It is not. I was writing this movie before it even broke. And literally, about a month after I was finished, the scandal broke. It's not based on that, but that being said, after it happened, I researched and followed the case and some of it wound up in the script, but it wasn't based solely on Eddie Long.
Loop 21: How crazy is that? It's almost like proof in the pudding that you're covering something that's happening in the community right now.
Smith: Exactly. Whenever I start writing anything, it takes me a long time because I want to make sure I'm writing something that people need. I'm a very spiritual person, so I'm always asking God to tell me the right things to say. And even with this film, it can come off that I'm attacking the church, but I'm not. I'm just bringing something to the forefront that I saw was going on for a long time. So that case let me know I was on the right path.
Loop 21: How long had you been writing that script? What motivated you to begin writing?