Faith, Media & Culture

Here’s this week’s dispatch from the crossroads of faith and culture:

From the latest from my faith/media industry mail box –

From the studio that brought you  RISEN and WAR ROOM comes the story of St. Paul, who transformed from the most infamous persecutor of Christians to one of Christ’s most influential apostles. From AFFIRM Films and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, PAUL, APOSTLE OF CHRIST arrives on Digital on June 12 and on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital June 19.

In this Biblical epic, Luke (Jim Caviezel, The Passion of the Christ) risks his life to visit Paul (James Faulkner, “Game of Thrones”), who is held captive in a Roman prison under Nero’s rule.  But before Paul’s death sentence can be enacted, Luke resolves to write another book, one that details the beginnings of “The Way” and the birth of what will come to be known as the Christian church. PAUL, APOSTLE OF CHRIST also features Olivier Martinez (“The Physician”) as the Roman guard Mauritius Gallas,
John Lynch (The Secret Garden) as Aquila, and Joanne Whalley (Willow, “A.D. The Bible continues”) as Priscilla.

The Blu-ray, DVD and Digital releases come with more than 15 minutes of engaging exclusive bonus materials, including deleted scenes, a look at the special relationship between Paul and Luke, and scenes from a scriptural visualization of Saul’s epic story of conversion. In addition, the physical skus will also include digital versions of the movie, redeemable via the all-new Movies Anywhere App.

PAUL, APOSTLE OF CHRIST is directed and written by Andrew Hyatt (Full of Grace, The Last Night) faithfully following the scriptures. The film is executive produced by Eric Groth, president and CEO of ODB Films.  The film is produced by TJ Berden and David Zelon.  PAUL, APOSTLE OF CHRIST is presented by AFFIRM films and Sony Pictures Entertainment in association with ODB Films.

Bonus Materials Include:

  • Deleted Scenes: Two deleted scenes, “Crucifying The Servants of God” and “Followers of The Way,” portraying Saul’s life as a persecutor of Christians.
  • The Living Word: “Saul’s Conversion” which dives into Saul’s conversion through a scripture visualization of his journey; and “Paul’s Letter,” showing the wisdom of Paul’s words spoken by James Faulkner which bring to light the power of faith.
  • Three Featurettes: “Recreating First Century Rome,” “The Path of The Apostle: Adapting Paul,” and “An Extraordinary Friendship: Luke & Paul.” Viewers will be engulfed in the timeless beauty of Malta as the cast and crew walk through how they created first century Rome. Director Andrew Hyatt, Jim Caviezel and the cast and crew talk about their journey of faith and share how they used scripture to piece together Paul’s story on screen. Jim Caviezel and James Faulkner also speak to the evolution of their characters and this unwavering friendship.

Paul, Apostle of Christ has a run time of approximately 1:47 minutes and is rated PG-13 for some violent content and disturbing images.

The Movies Anywhere Digital App simplifies and enhances the digital movie collection and viewing experience by allowing consumers to access their favorite digital movies in one place when purchased or redeemed through participating digital retailers. Consumers can also redeem digital copy codes found in eligible Blu-ray and DVD disc packages from participating studios and stream or download them through Movies Anywhere.  Movies Anywhere is available only in the United States.


Here’s this week’s dispatch from the crossroads of faith and culture:

Items from the PR mailbag:

Filmmaker Ken Burns will receive the Christophers Life Achievement Award on May 17th at the 69th Christopher Awards presentation in NYC. The Christophers are recognizing Mr. Burns’ decades-long career exploring the important people, places, and events of American history, focusing always on the power of the human spirit.

The Life Achievement Award honors individuals whose personal and professional contributions to making the world a better place have left an indelible mark on our culture. Previous winners include jazz legend Dave Brubeck, actor Carroll O’Connor, and author/historian David McCullough.

The Christophers, a nonprofit organization, is rooted in the Judeo-Christian tradition of service to God and humanity.  The ancient Chinese proverb —“It’s better to light one candle than to curse the darkness”— serves as the Christopher motto and guides its publishing, radio, online and awards programs.  More information is available at

Danielle Panabaker’s been busy helping fight villains over on The CW’s “The Flash,” but she’s going to take a little break this Christmas to find love in a brand-new Hallmark holiday movie. The actress hasn’t starred on the network since her 2014 fall flick “Recipe for Love” with Shawn Roberts, but she’s ready to get back into it, this time for a new season and with a new love interest.

“Excited to be working with @hallmarkchannel again on Christmas Joy,” Panabaker tweeted on Wednesday to share the exciting news.

The movie, “Christmas Joy,” is based on Nancy Naigle’s novel of the same name and will feature Matt Long (“Mad Men”) as Panabaker’s co-star. Though this will be his first Hallmark movie, a Christmas-themed one is a great way to jump right in.


Here’s this week’s dispatch from the crossroads of faith and culture:

This winners of the 69th annual Christopher Awards have been announced. The awards were created in 1949 to celebrate writers, producers, directors, authors and illustrators whose work “affirms the highest values of the human spirit.”

Tony Rossi, The Christophers’ Director of Communications, says “In a world where there’s a lot of anger and division, people need stories like those we’re honoring with Christopher Awards this year. From heroism in war to ordinary acts of kindness, these stories can serve as instruments of grace, helping us to see beyond our differences and celebrate our common humanity.”

This year’s 21 winners include ABC’s long-running and soon-to-conclude family comedy The Middle, the Academy Award-nominated films Darkest Hour and Lady Bird, and acclaimed historian David McCullough’s book The American Spirit. The awards will be presented in New York City on May 17th, 2018.

Winners in the various categories are:

TV & Cable

ABC News 20/20: Wonder Boy follows the Newman family as they deal with their son Nathaniel’s rare cranio-facial condition called Treacher Collins, the brutal surgeries he must endure as a result, and their efforts to help the world see his beautiful heart, mind, and soul.

The mini-series The Long Road Home (National Geographic Channel) dramatizes the 2004 ambush of the U.S. Army’s First Cavalry Division as they started peacekeeping duties in Sadr City, Iraq, the anxieties of their families back home, and the sacrifice and heroism of ordinary soldiers.

In The Christmas Miracle, an episode of the long-running comedy series The Middle (ABC), Frankie Heck’s adult son Axl refuses to attend church with the family on Christmas Eve, causing her to confront her own lackluster spirituality and recognize the importance of connecting with God.

The Music of Strangers (HBO) celebrates the unique sounds and individuals that make up cellist Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble, a group of musicians from the U.S., Europe, Asia, and Africa, who blend their musical cultures in order to build bridges in a divided world.

POV: Swim Team (PBS) highlights Michael and Maria Quay’s efforts to give their son and other young people with autism the opportunity to achieve goals and gain confidence by channeling their energies into sports in an inclusive and encouraging environment.

Feature Films

With a Nazi invasion of England imminent, newly appointed Prime Minister Winston Churchill must rally his unprepared nation and fellow members of Parliament to fight for liberty and freedom in Darkest Hour (Focus Features).

A rebellious and insecure teen, who has a contentious relationship with her mother, strives for independence and experiences moments of grace due to the subtle, unrealized influences of her Catholic education in Lady Bird (A24 Films).

A brave donkey, lovable sheep, and wisecracking dove make up the merry band of misfits on a divine mission to bring Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem for Jesus’ birth in the animated Nativity story The Star (AFFIRM Films/Sony Pictures Animation).

Based on the Christopher Award-winning bestseller, Wonder (Lionsgate) tells the story of a 10-year-old boy, born with facial deformities, who enters a mainstream school for the first time and teaches his classmates and community about compassion, acceptance, and the power of kindness.

Books for Adults

Acclaimed historian David McCullough explores the ideals, values, and individuals that brought out the best in our country’s citizens – and that should still inspire and guide us today – in his collection of speeches The American Spirit (Simon & Schuster).

Holocaust survivor Dr. Edith Eva Eger recalls the healing journey she took to overcome survivor’s guilt and become a psychologist who helps others deal with trauma in her memoir The Choice (Scribner/Simon & Schuster).

Radical forgiveness and reconciliation are on display in Andrew Collins’ and Jameel McGee’s Convicted, written with Mark Tabb, (Waterbrook/Penguin Random House), the true story of the unlikely friendship that formed between a crooked white police officer and the innocent African American man he sent to jail.

In Dorothy Day: The World Will Be Saved By Beauty (Scribner/Simon & Schuster), author Kate Hennessy presents an intimate yet complex portrait of her grandmother, the Catholic social activist and possible future saint, who strove to balance her commitment to serving the poor with that of being a good mother.

I’ll Push You (Tyndale House Publishers) chronicles the physical struggles and spiritual fruits that result when Patrick Gray travels the 500-mile Camino de Santiago pilgrimage through the mountains of northern Spain with his best friend, Justin Skeesuck, who is confined to a wheelchair due to a progressive neuromuscular disease.

In Redeeming Ruth (Hendrickson Publishers), Meadow Rue Merrill shares her family’s story of adopting an orphaned Ugandan baby with cerebral palsy, embracing the sacrificial joy of raising her, and allowing God to transform sorrow into hope when tragedy strikes.

Books for Young People

A trip to the park prompts a little girl’s discovery of the world’s ordinary joys and miracles, leading her mom to a new perspective on life in Through Your Eyes by Ainsley Earhardt, illustrated by Ji-Hyuk Kim (Preschool and up, Aladdin Books/Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing).

Pocket Full of Colors (Kindergarten and up, Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing) by Amy Guglielmo and Jacqueline Tourville, illustrated by Brigette Barrager, introduces readers to trailblazing illustrator, designer, and animator Mary Blair, one of the first women ever hired by Walt Disney Studios.

Harriet Tubman’s bravery extends far beyond her work leading slaves to freedom through the Underground Railroad to include being a Union spy, nurse, suffragist, and more, as shown in the poetic tribute Before She Was Harriet (ages 6 and up, Holiday House Publishing), by Lesa Cline-Ransome, illustrated by James E. Ransome.

In Genevieve’s War (Ages 8 and up, Holiday House Publishing) by Patricia Reilly Giff, an American girl’s vacation at her grandmother’s farm in 1939 France takes an ominous turn when the Nazi occupation begins, leaving her in dangerous circumstances that test her character and sense of personal responsibility.

Tom Rinaldi’s The Red Bandanna (ages 10 and up, Viking/Penguin Young Readers Group) explores the life of 9/11 hero Welles Crowther, who worked on the 104th floor of the World Trade Center’s South Tower and helped lead 18 people to safety before being killed himself.

In racially-charged post-World War I Chicago, the friendship between a white boy and an African American child sparks outrage in the community and challenges the youngsters to practice courage and loyalty in the face of hatred in author Bibi Belford’s Crossing the Line (Young Adult, Sky Pony Press/Skyhorse Publishing).

Here’s this week’s dispatch from the crossroads of faith and culture:

God’s Not Dead: A Light in the Darkness releases in theater Good Friday (March 30). Here is the

Synopsis from the press release): God’s Not Dead: A Light in Darkness is an inspirational drama that centers on Pastor Dave (David A.R. White) and the unimaginable tragedy he endures when his church, located on the grounds of the local university, is burned down. But his dreams of rebuilding the church face an unexpected setback when university officials reject his plans to rebuild, determining that the church is no longer relevant in today’s society. Trusting in the motto that he has lived by that “God is good all the time,” Pastor Dave enlists the legal help of his estranged brother Pearce (John Corbett), who is an attorney but also an atheist. As they partner together for a united cause, the brothers come to understand that not every victory requires defeating the opposition, and there is a greater win when you heal and rebuild with compassion and respect for others.