Last year, we saw Christian films surprise, even dominate, at the box office. War Room led the way but others, like Faith of Our Fathers, Captive, 90 Minutes in Heaven, and Woodlawn, proved that significant strides had been made in the public eye and at the box office, causing some to call 2015 “The Year of Christian Film.” But what if 2015 was merely the beginning of a tide, a storm, a resurgence of Christian films? Whether you have seen the previous films (which you should!) or not, here’s a list of ten films you should have on your calendar for 2016.
The Masked Saint (January 8)
Inspired by real events, a professional wrestler is called to become a pastor of a rural, local church. But when the pastor witnesses violence in the community, he decides to moonlight as a masked vigilante fighting these injustices. While facing crises at home and at the church, the pastor must evade the police and somehow reconcile his secret, violent identity with his calling as a pastor. The film was shot entirely in Northern Ontario, and features icons of the screen like Diahanne Carroll and ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper alongside stars Brett Granstaff and Lara Jean Chorostecki. Check out our interviews with the real life author, pastor, and wrestler Chris Whaley and lead actor Brett Granstaff.
Caged No More (January 22)
A sixty-year-old grandmother, Aggie, goes on a mission to rescue her two kidnapped granddaughters. As time ticks away, she desperately seeks out the richest and most powerful family in her New Orleans neighborhood. But the DuMondes have their own motivations for helping find the girls, and soon, Aggie is diving into the dark world of human trafficking that she had no idea existed. A harrowing story of human depravity as well as dramatic rescue, this is the first in a planned trilogy from real-life heroes who tackle human trafficking in the United States and abroad. Stay tuned for our review and interview!
The Pastor (January 25)
A dramatic character study and a redeeming parable set in Brooklyn, New York, finds a former gang leader recovering from a brutal prison knife fight. When he discovers his faith in God and a higher purpose, he seeks out underprivileged youth upon his parole. As turf wars heat up between the two most prominent gangs, one gang leader targets the Pastor’s new mission and community – the church is vandalized, his life is threatened and his estranged wife is kidnapped. Fighting his inner demons and violent instincts, the Pastor must decide between maintaining his newfound faith or returning to the cold-blooded killer he once was.
Risen (February 19)
When Jesus’ tomb is discovered empty, Pontius Pilate sends the skeptical soldier Clavius (Joseph Fiennes), a high-ranking Roman Military Tribune, and his aide Lucius (Tom Felton) to unearth the body. Pilate wants any claims of resurrection to be stamped out, even if it means bribery and violence. But Clavius uncovers stories he can’t ignore, Clavius must decide if he’s fallen prey to a powerful myth or if faith in a risen Christ is really possible. Touted as the sequel to The Passion of the Christ, Risen is a powerful action thriller that focuses on the days immediately after Easter. Check out Melinda Ledman’s early reaction to the film!
The Young Messiah (March 11)
Based on Anne Rice’s novel Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt, the film tells the story of Jesus Christ at age seven as he and his family depart Egypt to return home to Nazareth. Told from his childhood perspective, it follows young Jesus as he grows into his religious identity.
Miracles in Heaven (March 18)
When Christy discovers her ten-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. As Christy searches, she befriends Angela Bradford (Queen Latifah), who helps bring everyday joy and hope back to the Beam family. After Anna has a freak accident, an extraordinary miracle unfolds in the wake of her dramatic rescue that leaves medical specialists mystified, her family’s faith restored and their community inspired.
God’s Not Dead 2 (April 1)
The sequel to PureFlix’s hit God’s Not Dead film will address the freedom of religion, as high school teacher Grace Wesley (Melissa Joan Hart) faces opposition when she tries to speak about Jesus Christ openly in her classroom. Wesley’s love of teaching, her love for her students, and her love of life all come from the same place: her love of Christ. So when Brooke, a hurting student grieving the loss of her brother, reaches out to Grace, their coffee-shop conversation naturally leads to Grace sharing the hope she finds in Christ. When Brooke later asks an honest question about Jesus in the classroom, Grace’s reasoned response lands her in big trouble-almost before she even finishes giving her answer. With the principal and superintendent joining forces with a zealous civil liberties group, Grace faces an epic court case that could cost her the career she loves and expel God from the classroom-and the public square-once and for all!
I’m Not Ashamed (April 20)
The Rachel Joy Scott Story recounts the events of April 20, 1999, at Columbine High School. On that date, two teenage boys entered their high school with guns and homemade bombs planning to kill hundreds of their classmates. They would murder twelve students and one teacher before turning their guns on themselves. The first student that died was Rachel Joy Scott, who was known to both killers for sharing her faith. Moments before her death, they mocked her, “Do you still believe in your God?” With a gun at her head she replied, “You know that I do.” Drawn directly from Scott’s writings, we discover the hope in this tragedy. We find the story of a student who showed radical compassion to the hurting and unnoticed. It’s the true story of a girl who was not ashamed to share her love for Jesus to those around her, even to her killers.
Same Kind of Different As Me (April 29)
The film tells the true story of an international art dealer, Ron Hall (Greg Kinnear), who must befriend a dangerous homeless man (Djimon Hounsou) in order to save his struggling marriage to his wife (Renee Zellweger). His wife is a woman whose dreams will lead all three of them on the most remarkable journey of their lives. Jon Voight plays Hall’s father, with whom he reconciles thanks to the revelations of his new life.
Ben Hur (August 12)
A falsely accused nobleman survives years of slavery to take vengeance on his best friend who betrayed him. Produced by Mark Burnett, Roma Downey, Sean Daniel, and Joni Levin, the film is directed by Timur Bekmambetov with a screenplay from Keith Clarke and John Ridley (based on Lew Wallace’s 1880 novel, Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ. Previously, the story has been the subject of films in 1959 and 1925. The 1959 version won eleven Oscars, including Best Picture.
By Jacob Sahms
For more, visit www.ChristianCinema.com
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