ATLANTA – It's been nearly four years since the Kendrick brothers stunned Hollywood with their blockbuster faith-based film, "War Room."
Their latest project is called "Overcomer." CBN News caught up with the brothers at the movie's Atlanta premiere. Alex Kendrick writes, directs, and stars in the film. He says every five or six years there comes a project he can act in. For the second time, he plays a high school athletic coach.
The movie tells the story of high school basketball coach John Harrison. He and his team face an uncertain future when their town's largest manufacturing plant shuts down unexpectedly. As hundreds of people move away, John reluctantly agrees to coach cross-country, a sport he doesn't even like. His outlook soon changes when he meets Hannah Scott, an unlikely runner who pushes herself to the limit. Inspired by the words and prayers of a new friend, John starts to train Hannah for the biggest race of her young life.
Into the "Prayer Incubator"
Kendrick came up with the story while attending one of his children's cross country events in 2011. "I saw a lot of dads coaching their kids, speaking into them, affirming them," Alex recalled. "And I remember Paul in scripture talking about life is like a race. And you want to finish well. Then [the idea] went in the prayer incubator. Then as we were praying about, 'Lord, what do you want us to do?', that came back to mind. And the prompting to talk about identity."
"Our culture wants to say identity is what you feel, or what culture says about you, or some status, job status, financial status," Alex continued. "And all those things can change. So, who are you when what you are known for is stripped away?"
Bible teacher Priscilla Shirer returns to the big screen to help tell this identity story. We asked her if there was a Bible lesson she could apply to this film.
"We Are Not Our Behavior"
"The person in scripture that comes to mind when I think about identity, which is the crux of this film, is Gideon," she said. "And I think about Gideon because when you first meet him in scripture, he is in a winepress threshing wheat. He's not supposed to be doing that. That's normally something you do out in the open. He's hiding. So when we meet him, he is operating in fear and insecurity. God shows up and says to him, 'You are a valiant warrior.' He speaks to truth to him, even while he operates in opposition to truth. And so this is how critical identity is, that we are not our behavior," Shirer said.
"And I love how God comes to Gideon and says, 'even while you're operating in a way that is incongruent with the truth, I have come to remind you who you are," she continued. "That's what I'm hoping "Overcomer" does. That it reminds people you are who God says you are."
Making "Overcomer" was an Act of Obedience
Alex's brother, Stephen, is by his side for the making of this latest movie with a singular mission: "We feel like it's our part in being obedient, to make the movie God has called us to make, and then you send it off into the world, like a kid and you sit back and watch what God does with it," Stephen said.
Stephen believes "Overcomer" is the best movie they've made to date, in some ways. "It's the best shot," he said. "The best lighting. I would say the best acting in so many ways. The storyline has some neat twists and turns in it."
Twists, turns, and a few tears. Overcomer opens in theaters on August 23.