A Filmmaker’s Journal
Five years ago an independent production company agreed to finance my “compelling little story of forgiveness” as one of eight feature films for limited release to a faith-based audience. Thrilled, I wrote, directed, and produced the movie with the help of a wonderful cast and crew, but…
It soon became apparent that Healing River was not like the other films. It was darker, earthier, and more universal in its appeal. When a Hollywood distribution rep saw it, he said, “This one’s different—this is for everyone!”
We tested our not-yet-completed film at ICFF, the largest Christian film festival in the world. It was immediately nominated for Best Picture, Most Inspirational Picture and Best Score, receiving a special Honorable Mention award; the audience claimed it as their own, many calling it the most powerful inspirational movie they’d ever seen. (It eventually won over twenty film festival awards and nominations.)
The completed film had its official Premiere at Cincinnati’s historic Memorial Hall. The audience, this time made up of people from all walks of life, cheered as the end credits rolled. Here are some responses recorded afterward:
- “It captured what I’m going through. I cried so hard. But now I know I’m not alone.” (Mother of a heroin addict)
- “This is the most effective presentation on forgiveness I’ve ever seen.” (Cincinnati drug and family counseling director)
- “A remarkable theatrical experience: powerful, gripping, provocative, heart-breaking, moving, inspirational. You have created a masterpiece!” (Ray A. Smith, retired teacher)
- “Only Heaven will know the true ‘box-office’ returns of this film. My son and I had an excellent conversation about grief.” (Rev. Drew Smith, Presbyterian pastor)
- “I am overwhelmed with what I received and am taking away from this film. It was powerful on so many levels, both spiritually and emotionally. But even more drastic for me (was) the ethnic diversity. I don’t have words to describe how that aspect of the film impacted me. I’ve never seen a film with such an even display of racial justice. I’m blown away. Excellent!” (Rev. Dennis Hall, African-American Methodist pastor)
- “This isn’t just a great Christian film, it’s a great drama with Christian DNA. The script, acting, and music are all top-notch. Most importantly, it’s true to life. The emotions are so pitch-perfect that we know the characters are acting and reacting as we would in their circumstances. This isn’t a Hollywood production, but it could have been.” (Dan Andriacco, The Catholic Telegraph)
- “You don’t watch this movie, you live it. The characters are strong and vibrant. The movie will get inside you. It has moments so intense you forget to breathe. There are moments of gut-wrenching grief, there are moments of rage, there are moments of laughter. There is love. Healing River is about forgiveness, (but) it doesn’t just show you the way, it takes you there.” (S.M. Zang, blogger and reviewer)
Upon its release, Healing River became (and remains) the highest rated independent inspirational film in the history of Amazon Prime. You can see it uninterrupted there, or free-with-commercials at sites like Tubi and Roku. I would also encourage you to leave a brief review at Amazon (the more reviews it gets, the more they recommend it). Plus, you can rate it from 1 to 10 stars on IMDb (Note: IMDb only recognizes the rating if you rate a few other movies, as well).
This little light is still shining bright!
The Official Trailer