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Journalists interview producer, actor of faith-based film

In the past few years, the popularity of faith-based movies has increased nationwide, according to a LA Times article. The latest film fitting into this category is Unbroken: Path to Redemption, the true story of a WWII P.O.W. and his struggles after the war.

The directors and producers of Unbroken: Path to Redemption recognized Fresno as one of the top communities for watching Christian films. They held a red carpet premiere at Maya Cinemas on Sept. 16. Numerous actors and producers attended.

Bryce Foshee | The Feather Online

Cast members of Unbroken: Path to Redemption greet during the Fresno Premiere at Maya Cinemas, Sept. 16.

Unbroken is not the first movie to hold a premiere-like event in Fresno. In the past couple years, Victory by Submission and The Resurrection of Gavin Stone brought actors to local churches and screened the movie. With thousands attending, however, the event at Maya was the largest.

As a local company, Maya Cinemas has more freedom to hold local events. Many of these are premieres for faith based films. Larry Porcelli, president of Maya Cinemas, says the story of Unbroken, Path to Redemption made the event especially rewarding.

“We do a lot of faith-based here and we do a lot of faith-based promotion with churches and all kinds of groups and people,” Porcelli said. “This movie showed you, if you put your mind to something you’re going to do it. You’re dedicated, you’re going to do it. We love showing faith based movies.”

The major audience for faith based films includes the Christian community. Many, including FCS grandparent Janet Poplin, support movies like Unbroken because of the spiritual messages presented in them. Poplin attended the premiere event and appreciated listening to the inside stories from those who made the movie.

“We really enjoyed hearing Louis’s son, Luke Zamperini speak and answer questions in person after the movie,” Poplin said. “Also Samuel Hunt was there and several other people related to the movie. That made the movie more real and personal. Some lessons in the movie were with the help of Jesus Christ you can forgive anything. Also trusting God to give you that forgiveness. I would recommend this to anyone. Great movie. Also an excellent tool to help introduce an unbeliever to the reality of Christ.”

After acting in eleven previous movies and other tv shows, Samuel Hunt acted in his most notable role with the television show “Chicago PD”, Hunt accepted the role of Louis Zamperini, and his rollercoaster experience after the war.

“His story absolutely affect me,” Hunt said. “Getting a better understanding of what the journey was that this man went through, it just gave me a different respect for him and for the struggles of our veterans and also what it means to persevere. And it’s really helped to inspire me in my own life do persevere through the frustrating parts.”

While Mr. Zamperini’s story encourages many in tough situations, the main reason for producing the sequel to the first Unbroken movie was to finish the story. Dave Mechem, an executive producer for Unbroken: Path to Redemption, says that the demand for a second movie led to this film.

“I think when the first film came out, especially the faith-based community knew there was another part of Louis’s life,” Mechem said, “where he meant Billy Graham at the ‘49 Crusade and also where he got married to Cynthia and all of the things that took place there. I think that was something that when the first film came out there was a real desire to know the rest of the story, and that led us to being able to get with Universal and say, ‘Can we take this perspective of Louis’s conversion where he comes to the Billy Graham Crusade in ‘49, can we make that into a story? What we do is faith-based films, we’d love to work with you guys on it.’”

The inspiration quality of Unbroken: Path to Redemption also exists in many other Christian films. Sarah Smith, ’21, watches faith based films that she can apply to her life.

“I think faith based films are very inspirational,” Smith said, “and actually to me it’s like a testimony that I can see and relate to and help me with whatever I’m feeling.”

Andrew Rieker | The Feather Online

The ultimate goal of most faith based movies aims to bring people to Christ. Son of Louis Zamperini, Luke Zamperini, Unbroken producer, remembers hearing Louis’s story throughout his childhood. He says the story in Unbroken: Path to Redemption provides a powerful testimony.

“My dad’s story has inspired me my entire life,” Luke said, “from my bedtime stories growing up, and of course it was always exciting to hear the battles and the surviving and the prison camp, which wasn’t so exciting for me. But having him be able to tell me all about it when I was just a young boy that is what helped me find faith in Jesus Christ myself.”

Comment below if a faith based films has made an impact in your life.

For more on the movie, read the review of Unbroken: Path to Redemption.

Bryce Foshee can be reached via Twitter and via email.

Andrew Rieker also contributed to this article. He can be reached via email.

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