BROOKSVILLE — Overcomer, the latest Christian film collaboration by the Kendrick Brothers and Sony/Affirm Films, has opened at Beacon Stadium Cinemas. Two years after their last film, War Room, became a box office success, the Kendricks wrote and directed an inspirational film that targets a diverse audience and highlights some of the issues facing families today.
The two-hour feature revolves around a high school basketball coach without a team and a teenage girl with asthma who becomes the school's only participant in its cross-country track program. Alex Kendrick, the film's director, plays the reluctant coach, John Harrison. Aryn Wright-Thompson is introduced in the film as Hannah Scott, the least-likely runner.
Bible teacher and author Priscilla Shirer, who starred in War Room, recently spoke with the Tampa Bay Times about her role in the new film as the school's principal, Olivia Brooks.
Is it possible to go to a Kendrick Brothers film without having to pull out your hankie?
Shirer: You know what? I don't think they know how to write a movie where it doesn't draw and stir emotion. You know, it's good to just have that part of you pinged that maybe hasn't been pinged in a while. It re-tenderizes your heart toward something that maybe you haven't thought about for a while, and it makes you look at yourself again in that particular area.
The theme is being an overcomer while finding your identity in Christ. We see the strong, but flawed male coach, the 15-year-old girl with a troubled past, an older woman filled with bitterness and a wife who's trying to help her husband cope with devastating changes in his life. Do you think that's a good fit for the present culture?
Shirer: Absolutely. People are trying to find their significance in something, whether it's success, the applause of people, a relationship or a certain dollar amount in their bank account. There's nothing wrong with having any of these things, but there's everything wrong with tying our value to those things.
Your character is the only one that doesn't seem to be having any life issues.
Shirer: Olivia Brooks is this stalwart in a whirlwind of chaos who nudges us in the right direction, who helps us to have a little perspective about what's happening and who calls out of us potential that we don't even know is in us. We all need someone in our life who gets us back on track.
And being on the right track means tying our value to Jesus Christ?
Shirer: At some point those other things will be gone, so if our significance is tied to them, then we are completely devastated, and we don't have the capacity and capability to experience joy and peace and all the things we should be experiencing. And that's what the movie is all about. It really does ask the question — who or what have you allowed to define you?
Do you have a favorite scene?
Shirer: My favorite is the one I actually filmed first, where I get to sit down, hold hands with a little girl on a school campus and ask her if she wants to receive Christ as Savior. It's such a tender moment in the film, and I think it's going to really encourage people to be public with their faith and ask God for an organic opportunity to turn the conversation toward spiritual things.
How did it feel being Alex Kendrick's boss in the film?
Shirer: Now that you mention it, that was fun bossing him around, though between takes he was still bossing me around. But I love working with the Kendrick Brothers. They are just kind, very patient men who really want to honor God. So, every day on set starts with a devotional, and cast, crew, interns, everybody is there for devotions.
What are your hopes for people who will see "Overcomer?"
Shirer: People are going to see themselves in one of these characters, recognize the identity crisis and struggle that they're having in their own lives, and then be reminded that God has a response for that. He has told you who you are, and we've got to now operate in alignment with the truth of who God says we are.
To go: Overcomer is playing at Beacon Stadium Cinemas 12, 12961 Cortez Blvd., Brooksville. For information and trailers visit overcomermovie.com