LOS ANGELES — The producers behind the new award-winning short film Crescendo hope that their film has the same kind of life-altering effect as movies such as October Baby and Bella.
Created by the same team that put together Bella, the debut of Crescendo Feb. 28 also features a video testimony by Pattie Mallette, the mother of pop-music teen favorite Justin Bieber, as a fundraising appeal for crisis-pregnancy centers nationwide.
Producers Eduardo Verástegui, Jason Jones and Leo Severino plan to debut the 15-minute film — and Mallette’s appeal to raise funds for crisis-pregnancy centers around the country — at individual- and organization-hosted showings. Their goal is to release the film on more than 100 screens during a special one-night event.
"My lifelong mission has been to work for the full protection of the human person," said Jones, founder of Movie to Movement. "I wanted to create a universal film that promotes the dignity and worth of the human person across cultures and time."
Based on a true story, Crescendo is set in the 18th century. It tells the story of a series of events that turn an ordinary day into an extraordinary experience for a woman (portrayed by Colombian actress Montserrat Espalde) whose life will never be the same. The film enlisted the talent of accomplished Mexican writer and director Alonso Alvarez.
Mallette, the film’s executive producer, recorded a special appeal at the conclusion of the film that shares her own testimony. Mallette became pregnant at the age of 17 and spent the duration of her pregnancy living at a Canadian crisis-pregnancy center.
"I felt alone and scared and unprepared and didn’t have anywhere to go," Mallette told the Register about her experience. "If it wasn’t for the crisis-pregnancy center, I’m not sure where we would be. They offered me a place to stay, education, proper nutrition and gave me the confidence to be the best mom to Justin that I could be."
Mallette said the film really resonated with her.
"I could relate to the position of the mother in the film — also the mother of a musical son," said Mallette. "I had a lot of pressure not to keep my baby. I could relate with her."
Mallette said that Justin Bieber hasn’t yet seen the film, but is well aware of it.
"He knows about it; I’ve talked to him about it," said Mallette. "We’re working out details for the debut while I’m on tour with Justin in Europe in February."
"I’m excited to lend my name to support this project," said Mallette. "I’m excited to give others the same opportunities I had. My hope is that this movie encourages young women just like me all over the world that there is a safe place they can go where people will take care of you."
Feb. 28 Debut
Heartbeat International, a national network of pregnancy-help centers, is encouraging like-minded organizations to participate with Movie to Movement in hosting a showing as a way to fundraise within their communities.
"I encourage every pregnancy-help organization to bring the blessings of Crescendo to their own community for the grand premiere on Feb. 28," said Peggy Hartshorn, president of Heartbeat International. "The film is riveting and powerful, and the life-affirming finale will stay in your heart. It’s a unique, enjoyable and beautiful way to raise much-needed dollars to save and change lives in our ministries."
More than a dozen pregnancy centers have already signed up to host the film. Among them are four Expectant Mother Care/EMC Frontline Pregnancy Centers, which are based in New York, and the Gabriel Project on the West Virginia-Ohio border.
Attorney Khadine Ritter first saw the film at a gathering in November.
"I was very impressed with the movie," said Ritter. "It was very moving, cinematically beautiful and very powerful. Afterwards, during a break, I told Jason I wanted to help."
Ritter is working with the Mid-Ohio Valley Gabriel Project of West Virginia to show the film as a fundraiser for the pregnancy-help center.
The film will be shown at the Regal Cinema at Grand Central Mall in Vienna, W. Va., and the organization is working with local churches, right-to-life organizations and the pregnancy-help center’s donor list to promote the showing.
Reaction to the Film
The cost to host the film ranges between $700 and $2,500 for the necessary site license, disc and movie promotional materials. Details are available through the film’s website (CPCMovie.com).
The film has already garnered more than 15 international film-festival awards for its high production value and artistry, including the Heartland Film Festival’s Crystal Heart Award and "Best Short Film" from the Hollywood Film Festival.
It has also attracted the support of many.
"Crescendo is powerful in content and truly makes you think," said Andrea Trudden, director of communications and marketing with Heartbeat International. "The cinematography is phenomenal."
"Crescendo touches the heart and soul of life’s bittersweet song with a powerful promise," said Alveda King, pastoral associate with Priests for Life. "If the notes are left in God’s hand, he will create a masterpiece."
"Crescendo is a beautiful, powerful, transformational short movie that reveals an important deeper truth," said Ted Baehr, MovieGuide publisher.
Some may question the value of a short vs. a feature-length film, but as Pixar has demonstrated through the animated short subjects that precede its feature-length films, there is an audience.
Register film critic Steven Greydanus compared the artistic value of a short to a parable.
"The main value of a short is that it offers you a way to tell the story you want to tell — and often more creatively than a feature film," said Greydanus, founder of Decent Films. "A short film is like a short story, potentially like a parable. A quick sketch, a simple scenario has a special kind of power to capture the essence of inspiration, of a single idea."
"In this age of YouTube, if a short succeeds, it can go viral and have a huge impact," Greydanus added.
The producers hope that the lasting impact of Crescendo is in saving lives. They’ve seen it happen before.
According to Jones, who provides Bella to crisis-pregnancy centers through the Bella Hero Project, that film has resulted in more than 581 women who have chosen life after seeing the movie.
"Movies have a way of working their way from the screen into your heart," said mother Crissy Stanley. "Because of Bella, I decided to choose life and am now the proud mother of beautiful twins, who are my ‘miracle babies’ that I can’t imagine my life without."
Tim Drake is director of news operations and senior editor at the Cardinal Newman Society.