25 Hill: Saving the Soap Box Derby
Actor Corbin Bernsen was startled when he read a USA
Today article announcing that the All-American Soap Box Derby was in financial
trouble that threatened to end the 75-year tradition. Subsequently, he decided
to do something about it. So he wrote 25 Hill, filmed it in Akron, Ohio (site
of the derby's annual big event), and helped raise funding to get the
family-friendly derby back on its feet.
The movie focuses on 12-year-old Trey Caldwell, who has
just begun working on his soap box car with his dad when Dad is deployed to
Afghanistan, where he dies on duty. An unlikely friendship develops between
Trey and Roy Gibbs, a crusty old alcoholic who doesn't really want to be
friends, but who somehow can't resist Trey's youthful enthusiasm for the
[Pictured at left: Ed, caretaker at the Akron Derby Stadium, gives Trey a
history of the derby tradition. Ed is played by Ralph Waite (The Waltons)]
Bernsen, best known for his television role in L.A. Law,
plays Gibbs, and Trey is played by Nathan Gamble (Dolphin Tale). A Christian
himself, Bernsen told AFA Journal that several years ago, he began to wrestle
with how he could use his life to make a difference in entertainment. He said
he understands why AFA found much content on L.A. Law objectionable, but that
season of fame is what eventually afforded him the platform he enjoys today -
writing, producing and starring in faith-based and family-friendly films.
25 Hill is a family-friendly story tackling the themes of
grief, addiction, integrity, hard work, faith and family values.
The only cautions AFA notes are a few uses of the word
butt and occasional immodest dress (revealing cleavage).
Review by Randall Murphree
The Torchlighters: Heroes of the Faith
Christian History Institute and Voice of the Martyrs are
producing an animated DVD series recounting the stories of real people with
real courage. The series includes Jim Elliot, William Tyndale, John Bunyan,
Eric Liddell, Gladys Aylward, Richard Wurmbrand, Amy Carmichael, William Booth
The Richard Wurmbrand Story begins in Romania in 1955.
Communism has taken the country and churches are forced to obey the government.
Those who defy the government and preach the gospel are arrested and often
tortured, as is Wurmbrand. He and his family eventually come to the U.S. where
they begin Voice of the Martyrs, a ministry to help people understand how
Christians around the world are being persecuted for their faith in Christ.
The Story of William Booth, founder of the Salvation
Army, begins in 1861 with William and his wife, Catherine, answering the call
of God to preach to the poor in the east end of London. Poverty, corruption and
violence are great in this area, and the Booths encounter intense anger and
resistance. They begin holding their meetings in a tent, and the number of
people seeking the peace and hope of the gospel soon becomes so large that pub
owners try to chase him out of town. William and his followers refuse to fight,
and many are injured. But some in the opposition are converted due to the love
of Christ they witnessed when they expected retaliation.
This series is available at www.persecution.com.
Review by Debbie Fischer
Sons of Lwala
If growing up isn't already hard enough, try throwing
in a Third World country, AIDS, the death of both of your parents and medical
school. That's what brothers Milton and Fred face in the documentary Honoring
a Father's Dream: Sons of Lwala. Both men come to the U.S. to study medicine
at Vanderbilt University, with plans to open a medical clinic in their native
Lwala, Kenya. They hit a few bumps in the road along the way, both of their
parents die of AIDS, and the medical clinic is running out of funds. However,
with the help of a senator, a rock band, a friend and the people of America, they
might possibly keep their father's dream alive. Parental discretion is
advised due to the scenes of coffins, dead bodies and open talk of AIDS and
(Available at http://epiphanydocumentaryfilms.com)
Review by Hollie Finch
Journey to Everest
For six Americans from Nashville, Tennessee, in search of
great adventure, the Himalayan base camp of Mount Everest becomes their goal.
Epiphany Pictures' Journey to Everest follows their adventure.
The documentary opens with the group arriving in Kathmandu,
Nepal. They board a small plane that takes them to Lukla, where the dangerous
trek to base camp begins. Through perseverance and determination, four of the
six reach their goal.
In Kathmandu, the team meets a missionary, Bishwa
Karmacharya, who, with his wife, has a ministry serving and evangelizing the
poor throughout the region. Members of the team are touched by Karmacharya's
heart for meeting the needs of these disadvantaged, and the adventure ends up
giving them a greater purpose and meaning to their lives.
Journey to Everest is a striking film with scenes of
spectacular mountains, waterfalls and rivers displaying the creativity of God.
Expedition leader Ed Smith sums up the lesson learned by the team when he said
we are to "live every day and allow God to use us in a way that will benefit
Him and His kingdom work." (Available at http://epiphanydocumentaryfilms.com)
Review by Debbie Fischer
An aid for sharing the gospel
A new 15-minute film produced by Creative Youth Resources
and Bill Muir is titled Beyond the Sky … Walk Over, It's That Easy. It is a
story of an afternoon in the life of a young boy named Avery and his friend
The film begins with Avery and Thomas on a museum field
trip with classmates. The two boys sneak away from the group and end up in the
basement, playing and running around until late in the afternoon. In fact, by
the time they go upstairs, everyone has gone. The janitor finds them and
escorts them to a room filled with wonder and a new exhibit, "Beyond the Sky."
The janitor tells them the story of creation, the fall of man and the plan of
salvation using beautiful visuals.
This short film is a simple and creative way to explain
the gospel to children. Included with the DVD are five questions to stimulate
discussion after showing the film, an accompanying tract to help guide someone
through the gospel and nine principles to keep in mind in sharing the Good
News. (Available at www.christianbook.com)
Review by Debbie Fischer