'October Baby' presents strong pro-life message
When Jon Erwin first heard the term "abortion survivor" he was shocked.
"I didn't know those two words ever went together," said Erwin, a writer-director-producer who has been working behind the cameras with his brother Andrew since high school."I heard Gianna Jessen speak. She's an abortion survivor. I never knew there were any."
The Erwin brothers researched the topic. "The more we studied it, the more we were shattered by it," Jon Erwin said. From a movie maker's point of view, "it was an interesting take on the issue. Abortion is often a faceless issue. But this is a chance to put a face on it, a name on it, and present abortion through the victim's eyes."
The result is "October Baby," the story of a college student who learns she is not only adopted, but an abortion survivor. "October Baby" will open in theaters nationwide on Friday, March 23. The Erwin brothers, who began working at a cable TV station in their native Alabama while in their teens and advanced to ESPN and Christian music videos, co-wrote, co-produced and co-directed the movie, "our first feature film," Erwin said.
Newcomer Rachel Hendrix stars as Hannah, the young woman shocked to learn the story of her birth. Other actors include Jennifer Price, John Schneider and Jasmine Guy.
"We were rejected by every major Hollywood studio. They felt the film was very polarizing, too controversial, and they didn't want to touch this issue. Which kinds of bothers me," Erwin said, "because they take on all kinds of issues that offend the faith community."
The brothers are Christians "raised Evangelical in a Baptist church," Erwin said, but "there are no Baptist theaters or Catholic theaters. ... Different communities of faith have united around this movie." The Erwin brothers will appear on EWTN's "Life on the Rock" program at 9 p.m. Thursday, March 15.
Eventually the Erwins were able to raise about $3 million from pro-life business people to market the movie, money typically put up by the movie studios. "That gets us in the gate," Erwin cautioned, "but the first three days are crucial. Hollywood calculates success in per-screen box office averages." If a film does well the first three days, "it stays in theaters. If not, there is a lot of competition for movie screens and the film will be gone before you know it."
The film includes a clip of actress Shari Rigby, who plays Hannah's birth mother, discussing how the movie brought back memories of her own abortion 20 years earlier.
"Shari called me after she got the script," Erwin said, "and she was weeping. She said 'How did you know?' This story mirrors her own story in a very uncanny way. It was a crazy moment for me. She's post-abortive, suffered a lot from it, and felt this was her chance to tell her story. Hundreds and hundreds of post-abortive women have come forward to say they've found forgiveness and healing with this movie."
"October Baby" has been rated adults and adolescents by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' film office. Ten percent of the film's profits are going to the Every Life is Beautiful Fund, which helps women in crisis pregnancies, adoption agencies and those caring for orphans.
K of C screening
The Knights of Columbus at Most Sacred Heart Parish in Eureka are sponsoring a private screening at 9 a.m. Saturday, March 24, at Ronnie's Cine, 5320 S. Lindbergh Blvd. in south St. Louis County.
"It's a natural for us," said John Ryan of the KC Council at Most Sacred Heart. "It's a way to get folks out to see the movie and get them started thinking about abortion in a different way ... This is a reminder that real people are getting killed, and thank God, some of them have survived."
The Knights' screening is open to everyone, Ryan said, and with the 20 screens at Ronnie's Cine, "we can accommodate as many people as want to come." Tickets to the screening are $6 each; email Ryan at email@example.com.
"I saw 'October Baby' and I thought it was a good movie," said Mary Maschmeier, a member of St. Francis de Sales Oratory in south St. Louis and executive director of Defenders of the Unborn in the St. Louis area. "I do sidewalk counseling outside the abortion clinic, and our organization assists girls who are pregnant and need supportive help. I found the movie right on target."
Beth Lauver, director of the archdiocesan Respect Life Apostolate, said, "We are always glad to learn of a film that confirms the dignity of the unborn child. We know that choosing life -- even when there are formidable challenges in the woman's situation -- is obviously best for the baby, but it's also a blessing for the woman. When we support this kind of film with our ticket purchases, we increase the likelihood that films with similar messages will be made in the future."
Ryan of the Knights of Columbus said, "This movie will save lives."
"October Baby" will open locally March 23 at Ronnie's Cine 20; Des Peres 14 Cine in Manchester; Mid Rivers Mall 14 Cine in St. Peters; and Chesterfield Galaxy 14 in Chesterfield. "October Baby" is a production of of the Erwin Brothers and American Family Studios, with marketing by Provident Films and Samuel Goldwyn Films. For more information, go to octoberbabymovie.net and everylifeisbeautiful.com.
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