Last Sunday evening our church members and friends gathered together at the local AMC Theater in Orange Park Mall for the opening weekend showing of a new movie. The theaters were packed this past weekend due to the opening of a new film based on a best selling book. The Hunger Games was expected to be big, and it did not disappoint. The adventure of Katniss and friends (and enemies) brought throngs of fans to theaters, to the tune of $155 million at the domestic box office and $59.3 million internationally. It shattered box office records in the process.
However, that was not the film we saw. We purchased all the tickets for one showing of the new, independent film October Baby.
October Baby is released by Provident Films and distributed by Samuel Goldwyn Films. These names have been associated with other faith-based films in the past, so you may recognize them. While opening in just 390 theaters nationwide, October Baby finished number 3 in per-screen average and number 8 overall. The crowd in our theater, consisting of church members and friends as well as volunteers at First Coast Women's Services and leaders and teenagers from the Florida Baptist Children's Home in Jacksonville, was greatly moved.
I heard over and again from the attendees how moving and well-done the film was. Some said "It wasn't what I expected, but it was so good. I'll have to get the DVD when it comes out." Not sure what was expected, but glad it exceeded those expectations.
My family loved the film and we talked about it all the way home from the theater.
However, October Baby is controversial. It's controversial because of the serious subject matter it confronts head on.
That, I believe, is why so many reviewers in the media seem to be slamming the film. They say it's because of the acting or the storylines, but believe me, I've seen reviewers give rave reviews for mainstream films with decidedly non-Christian messages that have weaker acting and storylines full of holes. I guess it's hard to be impartial.
In truth, that is true for me as well. Because I agree wholeheartedly with the message of the film, I may be giving it "more stars" than it deserves. Honestly, there are some holes and some disappearing supporting cast once the story goes deeper into the message (i.e. Jason's girlfriend and Bmac and the guys.)
I've noticed that most professional reviewers from news agencies are panning the film, while the majority of "regular people" who have seen the film are giving it high ratings.
While ratings by reviewers and money made by the film matter, what really is telling regarding the film is what those who have seen it are saying. Especially those who can relate to the characters portrayed. Here are some samples:
For Michael Catt, Pastor of Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia (the church behind "Facing the Giants," "Fireproof" and "Courageous") who discovered as an adult that he had been adopted, the film hit close to home: "I am mor ethan viable tissue. Jeremiah says that God knew me before I was in my mother's womb. Mom, wherever you are, if you ever read this, I was no accident. God had a plan for you and for me. Thank you for not having an abortion. Thank you for loving me enough to give me breath. I hope that one day you will see and know how God has used all this for His glory.
For Melanie's parents, it was a chance to realize the impact of a life of service: "My parents have such a heart for the Lord and for children. They have lived and worked at a children's home for the past 13 years. While watching the movie Friday night, my mom leaned over and asked my dad if he needed a tissue. His reply? 'I need a towel.' Needless to say, they love the movie, as did I.
For Sharon, it was a reminder of her journey to forgiveness: "The movie is very inspirational and I think it will give many post-abortive women hope of healing and forgiveness. I am a forgiven post-abortive woman and was very moved by the brave testimony during the credits. There is hope and forgiveness to the millions of us mothers and fathers who have lost our precious children to the sin of abortion."
For Dina, it was a chance to share the hope she found in October Baby: "I went to see it twice and the second time took friends with me. This film is the most touching, moving film I have ever seen. So full of hope, love, forgiveness and above all, healing! I am so immensely blessed by it. Prase be to God.
The stories keep coming in. I asked folks on Facebook what the most meaningful scene was in the film. Here are some of the responses. . .
- When the birth mother comes into her office and finds the note that says, "I forgive you" What a powerful picture of what God can do through a person. I think it must have been much harder to forgive her for the second rejection than for the first.
- One of my favorites is actually when the movie is over and the actress who plays the birth mom is describing reading the script and then playing that scene. LOVE how God planned that moment for her years ago and it affirms again that He is in the details of our lives!
- My other favorite scene was when they were saying goodbye at the college campus, and she remembered why her father could never let her go. And she turned around and ran back to him and told him that it would be OK.
- The reference that being human is 'beautifully flawed'...WOW!
- I liked when the Snake King almost arrested Chris Sligh.
- When she was in the church and the priest explained to her about God's forgiveness for us and how He has empowered us to do the same.
- My favorite part was in the church, the time she actually realized forgiveness was freedom. Wonderful movie, so glad we saw it thank you David for arranging these times for us.
- There are so many parts! Each and everyone mentioned here is awesome. I have to say I'm very pleased with the way the movie was put together. They did such a wonderful job showing how abortion effects so many more than just the mother!
- My favorite parts were in the church and when she had forgiven her birth mother. But most of all I liked how she was chosen, adoped, and loved. One of my favorite verses is Roms 8:15 for I too was adopted first in this world and then in My Fathers world.
I strongly encourage you to see the film. Also, stay through the credits to see and make sure those with you see Shari's story.