Drew Zahn is a WND news editor who cut his journalist teeth as a member of the award-winning staff of Leadership, Christianity Today's professional journal for church leaders. A former pastor, he is the editor of seven books, including Movie-Based Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching, which sparked his ongoing love affair with film and his weekly WND column, "Popcorn and a (world)view."More ↓Less ↑
Actor Bobby Coleman in “Snowmen”
From the makers of acclaimed films like “Bella,” “Braveheart” and “The Passion of the Christ” comes a meaningful new movie designed specifically for families, but be alert: This weekend may be your only opportunity to see it in theaters.
“Snowmen” has been hailed as the “family movie event of the year” and has won awards from multiple film festivals, but thanks to the powerbroker system in Hollywood, this impactful new movie is only scheduled to be in select theaters from Friday, Oct. 21, through Sunday, Oct. 23.
“I call it a ‘Braveheart’ for kids, because it really is inspirational, motivational, it empowers young people to make the difference in the world,” explains John Shepherd, producer. “This is a movie that encourages people to realize we’re all snowmen. We’re here for a moment, and then we’re gone. And so what’s our mark on the world? Do we just leave a puddle of water? Or what can we do that will actually impact people for perhaps eternity?”
The film demonstrates from its opening moments that it’s far more than kid-film fluff. Ten-year-old Billy Kirkfield – played by Bobby Coleman, star of “Martian Child” – opens the film by narrating, “It was going to be the most amazing winter ever … the year that I died.”
“It’s true,” he continues. Billy Kirkfield died when he was 10 years old. And “Snowmen” is the story of how a boy who knew he was going to die spent his last winter, his desire to make his “mark” on the world and the lessons he learned about what really changes the lives of the people around us.
“We’re definitely unconventional,” Shepherd told WND. “We’re tackling subject matter in a way that allows families to discuss topics like life and death, heaven and what truly matters, not just what we do, but how we do it! That character is what counts, and not just making lots of money or getting famous. What’s important to ask our kids and to challenge them to think about is, how will you make a difference?
“What makes ‘Snowmen’ so special,” Shepherd continued, “is that it highlights some topics and key themes that a lot of G-rated family ‘fluff’ films might be afraid to tackle –but in an entertaining, thought-provoking and safe way that is both emotionally moving and filled with laughs.”
A preview of the film can be seen below:
“Snowmen” won the Audience Award at the 2011 Dallas International Film Festival, was named Best Feature Film at the 2011 Sprockets Toronto International Film Festival for Children and Youth, won the Heartland Film Festival’s Truly Moving Picture Award and the First-Runner Up Audience Award at the Tribeca Film Festival. The Dove Foundation and the Parents Television Council also gave the film their seals of approval.
Even so, “Snowmen” isn’t being widely distributed, and the makers of the film would like audiences to show up in droves to send a message to Hollywood to make and promote family films.
“When I first read the script, I read it with my mom, and when we were finished, we were both crying,” said lead actor Coleman. “There aren’t any scripts we read like that nowadays, and family films are just really hard to find. … It’s like a diamond in the dirt. It’s just really rare right now. So, I really hope this movie will bring up more movies like it.”
Shepherd shared with WND the words of one movie-going mommy blogger: “If you enjoy family-friendly movies, then you’ll want to send a message to Hollywood on Friday by showing up … but be prepared. It may open up deep discussions about the meaning of life and how you and your family will live it.”
Shepherd also spoke to reporters about key Christian values that are infused in the film’s story:
“Somebody once said, ‘Movies are the church of the masses, where you sit in the dark and watch people in the light tell you what it is to live, what it is to be human,’” Shepherd said. “And we have this great opportunity to speak truth in the darkness of the movie theater that some people who might not ever darken the doorstep of a church might not ever hear, but they go in and get sort of a biblical worldview. I just think that that’s the tremendous opportunity of this movie, and we have this great joy in producing movies that actually speak truth.
“I don’t want to just make fluff entertainment,” he continued. “I really want to do stuff that matters to the whole world. It doesn’t have to be a big thing to matter; it just has to be an impactful and powerful and truthful message. And so we want to do the heroic, the significant and the timeless. That’s our goal as a company, that’s our goal as humans, that’s our belief as Christians, and we want to inspire others to do that as well.
“Without, you know, as I said, being preachy, or cornball about it, or making cheesy entertainment, we want to do excellent work, so that people look at our work and – just like you look at sunset and give glory – say, ‘Hey, that inspires me, it points me in a direction that lifts my eyes upward,’” he concluded.
In select cities on Saturday, Oct. 22, many audience members can even see “Snowmen” for free.
“Make A Difference Day” is held annually on the fourth Saturday in October, to inspire Americans to take action and help change the world by helping others. October is National Anti-Bullying Month to bring more attention to bullying across the country and explore solutions to the problem, including cyber bullying legislation.
In accordance with those goals, Movie to Movement is giving away free admission for SNOWMEN to the first 300 people who bring canned goods (minimum of one canned good per ticket) to select theatres across the country.