For movie fans, this year looks to be a good one for faith-based films. Not only does it include films with Christian-based themes, but there are also a couple of movies that have been produced by churches. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that nearly every one of these films is being promoted by the Catholic public relations agency The Maximus Group, whose goal is to build bridges between sacred and secular audiences. Such films offer Christian movie-goers the opportunity to put their money towards the kind of films they’d like to see more of.
Here are just a few:
This Friday, The Grace Card opens. The film centers on the unlikely partnership between two cops: Mac, who is embittered by tragedy and angry with life; and Sam, a rising star in the department who is promoted over Mac. The movie features Academy Award-winner Louis Gossett Jr.
Taking a lead from Sherwood Pictures, the film was produced by Calvary Pictures, a ministry of Calvary Church in the Memphis suburb of Cordova. David Evans, a successful optometrist known for producing Calvary Church’s annual passion play, served as the film’s director.
Also opening this week is Of Gods and Men, a Cannes award winning French film about a group of Trappist monks, stationed in an impoverished Algerian community under threat from fundamentalist terrorists, who must decide whether to stay or leave. Based on a true story, from 1995, the film looks quite powerful.
Soul Surfer opens nationwide April 8. It tells the story of Bethany Hamilton (AnnaSophia Robb), the surfer who lost an arm to a tiger shark attack. Through faith, determination, and the love of her family (played by Helen Hunt and Dennis Quaid), she returns to champion-level surfing.
“The film… conveys in a natural way the love for God that pours out of the Hamilton family,” said Rich Peluso, vice president of Affirm Films, a division of Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions.
There Be Dragons, an epic tale set during the Spanish civil war, tells the story of St. Josemaria Escriva. Directed by Roland Joffé, the film will open in theaters on May 6. The movie tells the story of journalist Robert Torres (Dougray Scott), who tries to unravel the mystery nearly 70 years old that links his father to the founder of Opus Dei.
“This beautifully mounted and executed film based on true events is moving and inspirational, and it will make moviegoers cheer and applaud,” said Meyer Gottlieb, president of Samuel Goldwyn Films, which is distributing the film.
Courageous opens nationwide September 30. It’s the latest film from Sherwood Pictures, the Baptist church that created Flywheel, Facing the Giants, and Fireproof. I’ll be attending a preview screening of the film this Thursday.
The film follows the lives of five men, four who are deputy sheriffs, and focuses on the difference that dedicated fathers can make in the lives of their families. The filmmakers hope that what Fireproof did for marriages, Courageous will do for parents and their children.
“My hope is that Courageous will cause men to re-think what success really is,” said Michael Catt, executive producer, and senior pastor of Sherwood Church, the ministry home of Sherwood Pictures. “Success in life is not in things, but in your most intimate relationships. You are successful if you have a strong faith, children who love you, and a wife who adores you.”
Also opening on September 30th is the father-son project The Way, featuring Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez. The original story is about a father’s spiritual pilgrimage along the Camino de Santiago, or the Way of St. James, an 800 km journey in northern Spain beginning at St. Jean Pied de Port and ending at the Cathedral de Santiago, where a pilgrim’s Mass is held at noon each day. Along the way, the father comes to know of his son’s life, through his death. The fact that the film is opening the same year as World Youth Day will be held in Spain is providential. I’ve always enjoyed both Sheen and Estevez as actors, and so I look forward to this film.
Last, but not least, The Mighty Macs opens in theaters on October 21. Set in 1972, it tells the true story of Cathy Rush (Carla Gugino), coach of tiny Immaculata College’s female basketball team, and the team’s winning the first national women’s basketball championship. The film opened the 2009 John Paul II International Film Festival.
“When was the last time you saw Catholic portrayed in a positive light in films?” director Tim Chambers asked the audience at the film festival. “We need to be unified in tackling that hurdle in both Hollywood and the world. It’s time to put our religion out in front and be proud of who we are.”