Beliefnet
Faith, Media & Culture

Here’s today’s dispatch from the crossroads of faith, media and culture.

“When you look for the truth, you’ll find grace.” That’s the theme of Boonville Redemption which began production yesterday (7/14) in Thousand Oaks, CA. The star-studded cast includes Pat Boone, Ed Asner, Diane Ladd, Richard Tyson, Shari Rigby, Stephanie Linus Okereke and Robert Hays. The film is a product of the faith, determination and God-given talent of casting director-turned-writer Judy Belshe-Toernblom and veteran director Don Schroeder both of whom persisted against great odds to get their inspirational dream project to this point. I first literally bumped into Judy way at the Variety Family and Faith-based Media Summit in 2012 and first reported on her effort soon after that. As I noted back then, Judy’s script was awarded Five Doves by The Dove Foundation and the Best Screenplay honor at the San Pedro International Film Festival. You can read my interview with her and Don here.

Here’s the synopsis (per the film’s website): Boonville, California, 1906. Thirteen year-old Melinda is angry about the hand life has dealt her. Being born out of wedlock and scorned by many, she struggles to find out who she is in this world, to herself, her family and to God. Melinda desperately wants to know what happened to her real father. No one will tell her. Alice, Melinda’s mother, feels that God has abandoned her because of her past decisions, so she now relies on superstitions to deal with her guilt and get her through the day.

Maddox, Melinda’s stepfather, is the top employer in Anderson Valley. He lords his control over the small town of Boonville.

The local pastor is the only person that doesn’t treat Melinda with disdain. But he is mysteriously killed and Melinda is left with no one to talk to.

Mary is Melinda’s ailing and sometimes delusional grandmother. Under much protest, Melinda is sent to take care of her. Mary shows Melinda the love and acceptance that the girl has never experienced.

When Grandma Mary is delusional she speaks in a long forgotten language of the valley called “Boontling.” With the discovery and understanding of Boontling, Melinda begins to learn about her father.

Melinda is happy at her grandmothers and never wants to return home. She enjoys the peace of no longer being under the heavy thumb of Maddox. But that comfort is soon ripped from her with Grandma Mary’s sudden passing.

Now determined to do all within her power to find her father, Melinda’s bravery compels some of the townspeople to reveal the dark secrets that they have kept to themselves for years. Her example gives them strength to bring the truth to light and ultimately to find forgiveness and redemption.

Along with Boonville’s residents, Melinda learns that when you look for the truth, that’s where you’ll find grace.

Note: You can follow Judy’s and Don’s efforts on their Boonville Redemption Facebook page.

I wish this Judy and Don Godspeed with their production and hope to be reporting much more about it as it makes its way through production and into wide distribution.  May their success inspire others to faithfully follow their hearts.

Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

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