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North Pike HS grad eager for film’s release

Area residents will be flocking to Brookhaven, grabbing theirpopcorn and snatching a seat at UA Westbrook Cinema to be some ofthe firsts in the country to see the faith-based film “The GraceCard.”

The film will be opening Friday in roughly 350 theaters acrossAmerica. However, only seven theaters in Mississippi will beshowcasing the movie during the opening weekend. “The Grace Card”is the first movie from Graceworks Pictures, based out of Memphis,Tenn., in conjunction with Calvary Pictures. The film was producedby Memphis Calvary Church of the Nazarene along with veteranscreenwriter Howard Klausner, who has worked on “Space Cowboys,”and Academy Award-winning actor Louis Gossett Jr.

The movie, which takes place in Memphis, tells the story of MacMcDonald, who loses his son in an accident and the ensuing 17 yearsof anguish wears down his love for his family and leaves him angrywith God and just about everyone else.

McDonald’s anger stalls his career in the police department andmakes for an interesting situation when he’s partnered with SamWright, a rising star on the force and part-time pastor and lovingfamily man.

“It’s a wonderful movie that we hope God will bring healing andreconciliation to relationships,” said Production Secretary RobinHolmes. “It’s a great compelling story of God’s love andforgiveness and we’re just hoping God is going to use it to reachpeople that don’t know Him.”

Holmes, who is a 1981 graduate of North Pike High School and theadministrative assistant to the church pastor, said the idea forthe film came a few years ago after church members saw the film”Fireproof,” which was the work of Sherwood Pictures – the ministryof Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Ga. Holmes said they beganfilming in 2009.

“It’s a great movie,” said Holmes. “I’ve seen it about 20 times andevery time in one certain spot I still cry; the same spot I alwayscry.”

The film premiered in Memphis on Tuesday and Holmes said theaudience was “overwhelmed.” Randall Smith, manager at UA WestbrookCinema, said he thinks the film has gained a lot of interest.

“I know the 7 o’clock on Friday is sold out,” said Smith.

Memphis Calvary Church of the Nazarene played a huge role inproducing their film. The church is no stranger to theatricalproductions, as they have been showcasing their talents in theirPassion Plays, which are written by church member Dr. David Evans,for the past 15 years. Evans also wrote the story for “The GraceCard” and serves as the film’s director and executiveproducer.

Holmes said they saw people from 51 churches surrounding theMemphis area audition for parts, and outside from the professionallighting and film crew – most of the people that worked on the filmwere volunteers.

“It was like the Lord has been leading us all along to this,” saidHolmes.

The film’s budget was under $500,000. Holmes said the church triedto collect community and church donations to fund the film, butlegality issues prevented that from happening. She said Evans andhis wife, Esther, decided to pray about the situation and in theend decided to provide the money to make the film. Holmes also saidif there are any proceeds from the movie, the church is planning tobuild a community center on its campus.

“It is low budget, but you wouldn’t know it by watching the movie,”said Holmes.