Today, Jesus Film Project, an initiative of Cru, announced their record-breaking JESUS film (1979) is set to be launched in its 2,100th translation. The movie has been translated into Waorani, a language spoken by approximately 3,000 indigenous people of Amazonian Ecuador, with the film premiering in early 2024 among the Waorani people.
The JESUS film, based on the Book of Luke, has gained international acclaim over the years for its impact in introducing people to the gospel. It was officially recognized by Guinness World Records as the most-translated film of all time when it surpassed 817 translations.
To this day, it remains the world’s most translated film.
Chris Deckert, Jesus Film Project’s Director of Language Studios, highlighted the significance of this translation effort, saying, “The translation of our telling of Jesus’ story into the Waorani language is notable considering the history of Christianity with the Waorani tribe. This initiative was made possible through collaboration between Jesus Film Project and a consortium of indigenous groups, along with the agreement and support of the Waorani elders.”
The Waorani tribe holds historical significance in the context of Christian missions, as it was the same tribe whose warriors martyred five American Christian missionaries, including Jim Elliot and Nate Saint, in 1956 for sharing the gospel. ITEC, the ministry that was founded to serve the Waorani people and now other people groups around the world have been instrumental in helping Jesus Film Project connect with key leaders within the Waorani people. Cru Ecuador will be working with ITEC and other ministries to use this new tool to bring the love of Jesus to the Waorani people.
Josh Newell, Executive Director of Jesus Film Project, said, “The ability to release the JESUS film in Waorani is the result of our incredible team’s hard work and dedication. We want to ensure the accessibility of the film, not just in the world’s most widely spoken languages but also in the heart language of every community. We look forward to witnessing the transformative power of this film among the Waorani people.”
Following a rigorous language translation process, involving indigenous Waorani speakers, an official Translation Advisor, and input from the tribespeople, the script was translated in two weeks.
The recording team then spent eight days with the Waorani people.
A Dialogue Director found 26 everyday individuals from the Waorani to voice act and dub the film, recruiting people from all over the Waorani group, in different villages, with different accents.
The translation workshops often develop more than one language at a time.
Every day, the Jesus Film Project is working on 30 to 40 languages all around the world. The journey to reach the first 1,000 language translations took Jesus Film Project 32 years, while the subsequent 1,000 languages have been achieved in just over a decade thanks to significant improvements in technology.
The 2,100th coincides with the upcoming November announcement of Jesus Film Project’s latest initiative, an animated story of Jesus.