ANAHEIM, Calif. (NRB) – Six new faith-based films – including the recently released, surprise box office hit Unplanned – and two new television series were screened during Proclaim 19, the NRB International Christian Media Convention in Anaheim, California, giving the large group of influencers a chance to catch the vision of each project and carry it back to their audiences.
Unplanned (March 29, 2019)
Unplanned, the real-life story of a former Planned Parenthood clinic director who saw the horrors of abortion and became a pro-life advocate, opened in theaters March 29, and the writers, directors and producers, Cary Solomon and Chuck Konzelman, spoke about the film in a screening at Proclaim 19 the same day.
Konzelman told how the Georgia legislature had been considering a bill to outlaw abortion once a doctor could detect an unborn child’s heartbeat. Solomon said it appeared the bill would not pass until the legislature screened Unplanned, and then it passed both chambers.
“Alyssa Milano wrote an open letter to the state of Georgia basically threatening that Hollywood will boycott Georgia,” Konzelman said. “Fifty actors and actresses signed it. Our lead actress Ashley Bratcher … sent an open letter back basically saying Georgia cares more about human life than they do about Hollywood’s approval or their money.”
Solomon said he is amazed by the timing of the film.
“The Lord chose this movie. He gave it to us six years ago, and told us to wait,” Solomon said. “Ten days before Donald Trump got elected, He said, ‘Now.’
“… The Lord, in a divine act of mercy, is going to take the scales off people’s eyes and they will see absolute truth. … They will know two things: (A) It’s a baby. (B) They have a choice. This is the choice: Kill it or keep it. There is no more hiding behind, ‘I didn’t know,’” Solomon said.
Breakthrough (April 17, 2019)
Breakthrough is the first film for Chrissy Metz from This Is Us and is produced by DeVon Franklin, who also produced Miracles from Heaven. It’s based on a true story about a teenager falling through an icy lake and going into a coma. His mother’s steadfast prayers for his recovery rallied a community and resulted in a miracle.
John Smith, the teenage boy on which the film is based, told Proclaim 19 Convention attendees, “My generation is very hungry for something.”
“I go to a Christian school, and I can even see that to this day. We’re hungry and we don’t know what for. … Instead of chasing these demonic, these horror films, all these sinful things that my generation wants … and they’re terrible and they can destroy your life – why not build them up with hope, with future, with the Gospel, with the Holy Spirit, with Christ, with God?”
Smith added, “If we would just turn off our televisions, turn off our phones, put it down and start reading our Bibles and turn to the Holy Spirit again, can you imagine what our world would be like? With Breakthrough, this is an opportunity it brings.”
Franklin said this is the first faith-based film that 20th Century Fox has been involved with “from the ground up,” and he hopes Christian audiences will show up at the box office to show Fox there’s a market for such films.
Roe v. Wade (Spring 2019)
Roe v. Wade, directed in part by Alveda King, niece of Martin Luther King Jr., is a political legal drama that sheds new light on the facts behind the controversial Supreme Court decision that has allowed more than 60 million abortions in the United States since 1973.
The film includes a portrayal of Bernard Nathanson, an abortionist who founded NARAL – originally the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws, now known as the National Abortion Rights Action League – and a portrayal of Mildred Jefferson, the first African American woman to graduate from Harvard Medical School and a former president of the National Right to Life Committee.
Overcomer (August 23, 2019)
Overcomer, the latest project from the Kendrick Brothers, explores the topic of identity in Christ by presenting the story of a high school basketball coach whose state championship dreams are crushed when a manufacturing plant closes and hundreds of families leave town. The coach agrees to switch to cross country and meets up with an aspiring athlete on a journey toward discovery.
The film draws from Ephesians 1 and 2, which help believers know who they are in Christ.
“If you know who you are, it settles a lot of other things,” Alex Kendrick said at the March 28 screening at Proclaim 19.
Stephen Kendrick said people often are “trying to forgive and they’re trying to love and they’re trying to walk in purity, and they’re failing because they don’t realize how much they have been forgiven of and how much God loves them and what the Father has called them to be. This film dives into that.”
Overcomer is due for release in theaters in August.
No Safe Spaces (release date TBD)
No Safe Spaces is a documentary featuring radio talk show host Dennis Prager and comedian Adam Carolla talking to college students and faculty about university safe spaces and free speech controversies resulting from political conservatives being invited to speak on campuses.
“The threat to everything that liberals claim to cherish is coming from the Left, not the Right,” Prager told NRB leaders at Proclaim 19. “Conservatives not only don’t threaten liberals. The fact is we guard liberalism more than they do. The threat to every liberal value comes from the Left.”
No Safe Spaces is a call to awareness, Prager said.
“My belief is that first people need to be aware of the problem. You can’t solve anything if you don’t know it’s there or deny it. If people understand what the campus has become – the least liberal place in western civilization – it’s a big deal,” Prager said. “Maybe people will decide, ‘I’ll be very choosy about where I send my kid,’ or, ‘I’m not going to waste $60,000 to have my kid brainwashed.’”
Producer Mark Joseph said the film challenges people to “exercise the resistance muscle.” He hopes donors will “stop blindly giving” to their alma maters.
“It’s not the college it was in 1956 when you were there with your sweetheart. It’s a totally different place. Go online, look at the student paper, and find out what’s going on. If it doesn’t reflect your values, stop giving money to your alma mater because of some warm feeling in your heart from 55 years ago,” Joseph said.
The Children of Shanghai
The Children of Shanghai, narrated by Bear Grylls, reveals how nearly a million orphans were placed into local foster families in the past 20 years after Robert and Elizabeth Glover took to China the model they had used in England.
“In the UK, we had something called permanency planning, and when people couldn’t afford to adopt, we would look at permanency planning where the child could be placed in a family long-term but the government would still take responsibility for the financial – the education and the medical,” Robert Glover said at a March 28 screening of the documentary at Proclaim 19.
“In China, we felt because of the nature, we felt we would go for this concept of permanency planning, long-term foster care. They didn’t know anything about this, so obviously we had to create a [Chinese] word for that and we had to teach [the staff] in all the institutions … to become family placement workers, to support the children as they went into the community.”
Today, 85 percent of the children in China live in families, Glover said. “They’re supported by people who were previously working in an institution. So not only did we have to deinstitutionalize the children, we had to deinstitutionalize the staff as well and work through a concept of supporting children in families in the community.”
Jesus: His Life (March 24, 2019)
Jesus: His Life explores the story of Jesus from the viewpoint of the people who were closest to Him, with each of the eight chapters being told by a different biblical figure such as Joseph, John the Baptist, Mary, and Peter.
The story of Jesus’ life is conveyed through a combination of scripted drama and interviews with biblical scholars, historians, faith leaders, and theologians. The weekly television series, which premiered two episodes back-to-back on the History Channel right before the opening of the Proclaim 19 Convention, depicts Jesus’ journey through a complex world of kings, politicians, reformers, and soldiers in a turbulent power struggle during a time of revolutionary change.
The Chosen (Easter 2019)
The Chosen is the first-ever multi-season television series about the life of Christ as well as the most successful crowd-funded media project ever, raising more than $10 million from 16,000 investors. Proclaim 19 Convention attendees got to watch the premiere of Episode One of the first season.
The series is directed by Dallas Jenkins, son of Left Behind author Jerry Jenkins.
“I thought, ‘If we can see Jesus through the eyes of those who actually met Him, we can be changed and impacted in the same way that they were,’” Jenkins said at the March 28 screening at Proclaim 19.
“This is an attempt, as much as possible, to authentically capture the oppression and the sadness that people were not only feeling collectively but personally [in Jesus’ day] – the struggles with sin, the struggles with oppression, the struggles with poverty that they were experiencing, and the need and desperation and longing they felt for the Messiah.
“I want us to be in that place,” Jenkins said. “Regardless of our circumstance, that place of being hungry and desperate for the Messiah – even though we now know who He is – … is where God wants us every day.”
By Erin Roach