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Facing the Critics

Alex Kendrick, writer/director of a new Christian film, Facing the Giants, was in the news over an MPAA ratings flap regarding his project. Now he's answering his critics—and talking up his movie.

A few months ago, a little Christian film called Facing the Giants—which opens in limited theaters this Friday—made national news because the MPAA reportedly gave it a PG rating solely because the movie talks about Jesus.

The news stirred an outcry among some Christians—and at least one U.S. Congressman, Roy Blunt of Missouri, who publicly reprimanded the MPAA. The American Family Association rallied its supporters, who allegedly bombarded the MPAA with 143,000 e-mail complaints.

The MPAA then said, hold on, we never said the PG was because of the Christian angle, but because of "thematic elements"—like violence (some hard-hitting scenes on the football field), infertility (one of the main characters can't get pregnant), and depression. Some skeptical observers wondered if the filmmakers had trumped up the MPAA-as-bad-guy story just to get the publicity.

But the filmmakers, Alex and Stephen Kendrick of Sherwood Pictures, say they were stunned at the sudden limelight—even though it did amount to a ton of free publicity, something they couldn't afford on the film's $100,000 budget, all donated by church members and others. Sherwood Pictures is a ministry of Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia, where the Kendrick brothers serve as associate pastors.

Facing the Giants tells the fictional story of Grant Taylor, a football coach at a Christian school who is dealing with some difficult circumstances—his wife is infertile, his team can't win, and the athletic boosters want to replace him with another coach. It amounts to a crisis of faith until Grant cries out to God, promising to put him first—and then all kinds of things start going right for Grant and those around him.

We spoke with ...

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