Good movies with faith messages are on the rise. At Dove, we see many while they are being developed. Sometimes we are invited to visit the sets, while on other occasions we are kept up to date at every step, reviewing scripts, rough-cuts and early screenings. In past years, the terms “good” movies and “faith-based” movies were mutually exclusive. Recently, however, Christian filmmakers are getting better at their craft. And, investment capital for movies with uplifting messages is available for the right projects, even in this tough economic climate. There are many good faith-friendly and faith-based movies soon to be released.
For this article I’ll focus on three Dove-approved movies coming soon. (The Dove reviews are not publically available yet due to an embargo agreement with the filmmakers. Check dove.org on the release date for complete details.)
Risen: Follows the epic biblical story of the Resurrection, as told through the eyes of a non-believer. Clavius, (Joseph Fiennes) a powerful Roman military tribune, and his aide Lucius, are tasked with solving the mystery of what happened to Jesus in the weeks following the crucifixion, in order to disprove the rumors of a risen Messiah and prevent an uprising in Jerusalem. This dramatic portrayal will be in theaters on February 19th. Released by Sony Pictures under their Affirm Films label.
The Young Messiah: is a very interesting movie based on Anne Rice’s novel, Christ the Lord out of Egypt. The story is an account of what could have happened to seven-year-old Jesus and his family during his adolescent years that are mostly unaccounted for in the Bible. Writer, Cyrus Nowrasteh said in a press release, “This new title better conveys how our film seeks to present a realistic portrait of Jesus as a child both grounded in faith and consistent with the adult Jesus revealed in the Bible.” The film is due to release in theaters nationwide on March 11th. Also a Sony Pictures release.
Miracles from Heaven: is based on the incredible true story of the Beam family. When Christy (Jennifer Garner) discovers her 10-year-old daughter Anna (Kylie Rogers) has a rare, incurable disease, she becomes a ferocious advocate for her daughter’s healing as she searches for a solution. After Anna has a freak accident and falls three stories, a miracle unfolds in the wake of her dramatic rescue that leaves medical specialists mystified, her family restored and their community inspired. Coming to theaters on March 16th from Focus Features.
Lately, the studios have tried to get in the act by producing their own brand of “Biblical” movies. Unfortunately, with a few exceptions, their efforts have been flat. The reason seems to point to the misled belief that anyone can make a religious film. The facts dispute that as evidenced by the poor performance from big budget flops like Noah and Exodus: Gods and Kings. Time and again, it’s been proven that the teller of a religious story must be a religious person with the ability to bring his or her own organic faith and truth to the story being told.
Ben-Hur: Paramount appears to have “seen the light” by inviting the winning team of Mark Burnett and Roma Downey (The Bible Mini-series, Son of God, A.D: the Bible Continues) to collaborate on their upcoming remake of the familiar epic film, Ben Hur. The jury is still out since Dove has not screened the film yet. However, with the Burnett’s sharing the helm of this magnificent story, we are encouraged that this film will be a first class winner, embraced and endorsed by people of Faith everywhere. Originally set for release on February 26th, 2016 Ben Hur has been rescheduled for August 16th.
Movies by and for the faithful are here, and they are gaining in stature, production quality, and audience numbers both inside and outside Christian circles. While, secular filmmakers are attempting to break into the religious market, the adage, “It takes one to know one” is certainly true here. Dove has been called on frequently by non-Christian filmmakers to help guide movies that are true to Judeo-Christian values and have authentic characters in the stories. As long as audiences continue supporting these films, more and better movies will be in the offing.
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Byline: Dick Rolfe is the Co-Founder and CEO of The Dove Foundation