"The Hopeful" Illuminates Adventist Origins Through Cinema
The North American Division’s Year-end Meeting recognizes Hope Studios’ film as a powerful evangelistic tool.
Nov 28, 2023, 4:48 PM
The North American Division (NAD) of the Seventh-day Adventist Church recently spotlighted "The Hopeful," a feature film produced by Hope Studios, at their year-end meeting. This announcement sought to acquaint church leaders with the movie as a means to enhance understanding of the Adventist faith and its origins.
Currently, general awareness and understanding of the Adventist faith is in decline, paralleling a broader societal shift away from denominational affiliations and religious engagement. This trend presents a challenge in conveying the historical and theological foundations of the Adventist church.
Fresh Film Provides the Solution
In response to these challenges, Hope Channel International’s (HCI) cinematic branch, Hope Studios, in collaboration with Kyle Portbury Films, identified the potential of film as an educational and outreach medium. Recognizing the widespread appeal of cinematic storytelling in the U.S., where movie ticket sales are expected to reach 922 million this year alone*, Hope Studios’ producers developed "The Hopeful" to communicate the Adventist message through storytelling.
The film focuses on the beginnings of the Advent Movement as told through the lens of J.N. Andrews while on his first missionary journey to Switzerland. Rooted in historical events, this cinematic masterpiece invites audiences on an emotional journey through the lives of its characters, navigating the complexities of pain, joy, disappointment, and renewed hope.
Test Screenings Around the Country
Following its production, "The Hopeful" has been introduced to international audiences through screenings at various events.
In May 2023, the film took the spotlight as the headline screening at the International Christian Film Festival (ICFF) in Orlando, Florida. ICFF, founded by Seventh-day Adventist filmmaker, Marty Jean-Louis, has grown to become the world's largest Christian film festival, boasting an international subscriber list of over 20,000. While the festival typically hosts multiple simultaneous screenings, "The Hopeful" claimed a unique status as the sole Thursday night feature, drawing the largest audience. Attendees, representing various Christian denominations, praised the film's exceptional cinematography and storytelling, with many expressing that it served as their introduction to Seventh-Day Adventism and its history.
Billy Biaggi, HCI Board Chairman, underscored the film's impact at ICFF saying, “It was touching to see people from different countries gathered to see the presentation. Attendees commented that ‘The Hopeful’ was touching, the video highly professional, and the music excellent.”
ICFF President, Marty Jean-Louis complimented the film, stating, "The sheer brilliance and power of ‘The Hopeful’ is truly remarkable, as it gracefully unveils the captivating story of the Seventh-day Adventist movement. From the enchanting melodies that sweep you away to the heartfelt moments that tug at your soul, this movie is a true masterpiece that resonates deeply with audiences. I can't recommend it enough to everyone, as it has the extraordinary ability to touch your heart, ignite your imagination, and leave you feeling inspired. Prepare to embark on a remarkable journey of hope and discovery that will stay with you long after the credits roll.”
GAiN Americas also showcased “The Hopeful” where Adventist communicators and media professionals from around the world gathered to learn more about digital evangelism. Kevin Christenson, Hope Studios director, presented the film, emphasizing the potential of using media as a potent tool for evangelism within the Adventist community. The presentation concluded with a call to empower individuals to share their values through impactful storytelling experiences, recognizing the cinema as a unique space where undivided attention is willingly given to alternative worldviews.
In July 2023, HCI proudly sponsored the third annual Adventist Young Professionals (AYP) Thrive Convention, held in Dallas, Texas. The partnership between Hope Studios and AYP manifested in an exclusive test screening of "The Hopeful" for the nearly 400 AYP participants, symbolizing Hope Studios' commitment to providing high-caliber content for young Adventists to be proud of and willing to share with those beyond the pews. The screening, held at an AMC cinema, left a profound impact on attendees, evoking emotional responses and generating excitement about the quality content produced by Hope Studios.
Tim Kosaka, AYP founder and president, said, “Hope Studios’ high-quality content is something Seventh-day Adventist young professionals can be proud to share with their circles of influence.”
Further, the Society of Adventist Communicators (SAC) and ASI (Adventist Laymen’s Services & Industries) conventions can be added to the growing list of Adventist audiences with overwhelmingly positive responses.
Endorsement from the North American Division
The film’s screenings highlighted its potential as an effective tool for evangelism and outreach and culminated in the official endorsement from the NAD at their Year-end Meeting in October 2023.
The speaker of the session, U.S. Senate Chaplain Barry Black, got the audience fired up about mission, encouraging members and leaders to be willing to step into "Caesar's house" for mission. Following the chaplain’s message, Calvin Watkins, NAD Vice President of Evangelism, presented “The Hopeful,” tying in Black's message with the new concept of cinema evangelism and venturing into new areas - areas that may be out of the comfort zones of some - for the sake of the gospel.
“There is a movie made by Adventists that the whole world will see,” said Watkins. “It gives us an opportunity to share our message in a way that we have never shared before and to reach people we have never reached before.”
Coming to Theaters Soon
Despite the initial success of "The Hopeful” resonating with both Adventist and non-Adventist audiences, the task of increasing its visibility and impact continues. The support of the Adventist community is crucial as the film approaches its release in cinemas around the country in Spring 2024, with international release planned soon after.
To learn more about “The Hopeful,” please visit https://www.thehopefulmovie.com/.