The Film

The Calling

Join seven young, vibrant, thoughtful and vastly different Americans as they embark on the most extraordinary journey of their lives. Representing Jewish, Muslim, Catholic, and Protestant faiths,  each is ignited by the "call" to serve humanity and has decided to join the clergy. The Calling is a four-hour documentary series that follows them from their first days of training, through years of challenges, doubts, triumphs and surprises, and into their early practice as ordained professionals. 

Produced by a team of multi-faith filmmakers and led by Series Director/Executive Producer Danny Alpert, this intimate look behind cloistered seminary walls and into the hearts of future religious leaders provides a rich, nuanced portrayal of faith never before seen on national television.

The Calling aired on the PBS Emmy® and Peabody Award-winning series, Independent Lens, over two consecutive nights: Monday, December 20th and Tuesday, December 21st, 2010. If you missed the broadcast, you can still find The Calling on iTunes, and in the PBS store at

The Calling features young adults at the crossroads of their lives, coping with daily issues of dating, finances, friendships, family dramas and key career decisions. They struggle to balance religious convictions, professional responsibilities, rigorous academics, interactions with congregants, dedication to lifelong service, and occasional spells of doubt and uncertainty. Their collective experiences shed light on the nature of leadership, as well as current issues facing America’s religious communities.

Community Screenings

The Calling is available for screenings and events as a four-hour mini-series or a 70-minute "Engagement" version. The Engagement version features four of the series subjects: Shmuly Yanklowitz, a student at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School in Riverdale, New York; Tahera Ahmad, an outspoken young Muslim scholar, schoolteacher, and student in Hartford Seminary’s Muslim Chaplaincy program in Connecticut; Steven Gamez, a Tejano (Texan/Mexican), born and raised on San Antonio’s West side, who entered the Catholic seminary in the hopes of becoming a “servant priest” — pastoring to the underserved in his home community; and Rob Pene, a Samoan, who is studying at the Haggard School of Theology at Azusa Pacific University and working with a Presbyterian Minister in an upper-middle-class Los Angeles church, while mentoring at-risk teenage boys.

Screening Information

To find out about screenings in your area, visit our Screenings page. If you are interested in hosting your own screening of either the four-hour series or the 85-minute Engagement version, check out our  "host your own screening" page for a toolkit and guidelines.

The Calling is produced with the support of the from the Independent Television Service (ITVS), the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), the Henry Luce Foundation, the Hartley Film Foundation, Pacific Islanders in Communications, the Irving Harris Foundation, Samuel Zell Foundation, National Black Programming Consortium, The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation and the Zarrow Family Foundation.

Series Director & Executive Producer | Daniel Alpert
Editor & Co-Producer | Susanne Suffredin
Directors | Yoni Brook, Alicia Dwyer, Musa Syeed, Maggie Bowman
Co-Producer | Beth Sternheimer
ITVS Executive Producer | Sally Jo Fifer
Original Music | Califone

For a complete list of credits, you can download our Complete Credits PDF
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