By Aaron Earls
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Before “Overcomer” debuts in theaters across the country on August 23, Alex and Stephen Kendrick gave audiences at the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting a sneak peek of their latest film on Tuesday (June 11).
In two different screenings sponsored by Lifeway Films, the filmmaking brothers shared their heart behind the movie to hundreds gathered to listen to their story and watch the film.
After 2015’s “War Room,” Alex Kendrick said they took a break, began to pray about their next project, and felt God leading them to the issue of identity.
“We think we are in a season where God is saying to the church, ‘I want to remind you who you are’ because identity is so crucial,” he said. “We believe the Creator defines His creation. We believe He knows us better than we know ourselves. And we believe He has the authority to tell us who we are.”
The brothers say they drew inspiration for “Overcomer” from the book of Ephesians and Paul’s teachings on the new identity of Christians and how understanding that truth is essential to fulfilling the commands that follow in the book.
“At this time, the Church needs to be the experts when it comes to identity,” Stephen said. “The Church needs to rise up and say you were created in the image of God.”
He explained how as he was studying the first chapters of Ephesians, the idea for the plot of “Overcomer” simultaneously began to stir in Alex’s mind.
In the film, Alex stars as high school coach John Harrison who must leave behind dreams of a basketball state championship after the town’s largest employer goes out of business and families begin to leave the school.
John and his wife, Amy (Shari Rigby), question how their family will face an uncertain future, as he takes on cross country—a sport he doesn’t know or like.
Then they meet Hannah (Aryn Wright-Thomson), an aspiring athlete who’s pushing her limits on a journey toward discovery and attempting to discover who she is.
Inspired by the words and prayers of a new-found friend, John becomes the least likely coach helping the least likely runner attempt the impossible in the biggest race of the year.
After starring in “War Room,” Priscilla Shirer returns to the big screen as the school’s principal.
“Working on this film, stretched my own sense of who I am in Christ,” said Alex. “I have a deeper, more personal, clearer perspective today on my identity in Christ than I’ve ever had.”
Despite having grown up in a Christian home, Stephen said he doesn’t remember being taught “what it means to be in Christ and who are we in the Lord,” but his study of Ephesians and time spent on the film helped solidify those concepts for him.
“Our hope for this movie is that you’ll be able to launch into a study on Ephesians and on our identity in Christ,” said Alex. “We want you to use this movie as a tool to edify the church and win the lost.”
“Every movie is just one string of answered prayer after another,” Stephen said. “Over 80 churches across racial and denominational lines were helping us to make the film in Columbus, Georgia.”
After the screenings, the brothers took questions from the audience and shared how those in attendance could help the movie become successful.
“We need your prayers to continue,” said Stephen, “because we want to take back the arts for Jesus Christ.”
He said if the film does well enough on opening weekend, the distributor will spend additional money and increase the number of theaters showing the movie to expand its reach.
Churches can pre-buy showtimes to take their congregation and guests to see “Overcomer” as early as August 5. Those purchases also count toward opening weekend totals.
The brothers also pointed to numerous “turn-key resources” they have developed with Lifeway to assist churches in helping members grasp the issues of identity explored in the film.
For more information on the movie, resources and group showings, visit OvercomerMovie.com.
Aaron Earls is a writer for Lifeway Christian Resources.