Private Screening: Paul, Apostle of Christ

BRIDGEPORT—The diocesan Leadership Institute has arranged a private screening of the much-praised new film Paul, Apostle of Christ at the Marquis 16 & Bowtie Cinema, 100 Quarry Road, Trumbull on Wednesday, March 21 at 7:00 pm.

“Paul, Apostle of Christ” is set to open March 23 on more than 2,000 screens in the United States, and will simultaneously open in at least 15 other countries, with deals still in the process to more than double that number, he added.

Patrick Donovan, Executive Director of the Leadership Institute, said the tickets will be available on a first-come, first serve basis. They are $12.00 each. The evening will include an opening prayer and a Q &A after the film.

One of the early admirers of the film is Bridgeport Bishop Frank J. Caggiano who was treated to an early screening by the executive producers, Eric Groth.

“Paul, Apostle of Christ is an extraordinary film that poignantly portrays the life and leadership of Saint Paul when the early Christians faced great sufferings. Through beautiful cinematography and a dialogue faithful to the Scriptures, Paul’s heroic faith, personal dignity and tenacious witness is powerfully portrayed. It is film that will touch and encourage anyone who sees it with an open mind and heart,” said the Bishop.

Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB, founder of Salt and Light Catholic Media, has highly recommend the film highly to every Christian man and woman “who wishes to experience the cost of discipleship and the reason for our hope.”

“This film is unlike any other religious movie I have seen and it does great justice to the looming figure of Paul the Apostle and his Gospel of grace. The film’s message speaks loudly to our times: no one is beyond God’s mercy and forgiveness.” There is a great price to being Christian, then and now. Many suffered for believing in the name of Jesus, and many continue to suffer persecution today for their discipleship of Jesus Christ.

In an interview with Catholic News Service reporter Mark Pattison, Erik Groth said, “It was real important to tell the story of God’s mercy.”

“His message of love and life and mercy is so important for us today,” Groth said to an invitation-only audience of about 60 at a Feb. 15 advance screening of the film at the St. John Paul II National Shrine in Washington.

Groth is head of ODB Productions; he said the initials stand for “Outside Da Box.” The company has made, by his estimate, about 250 short films for Catholic religious education programs, and a series of 15 shorts based on each of the 15 sections of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

“All I wanted to do (in college) was play baseball. Then the Lord moved my heart,” Groth said. In addition to the film shorts, he also produced “Full of Grace,” about Jesus’ mother, Mary, helping repair the fractures that developed in the early church. It was written and directed by Andrew Hyatt, who had the same two jobs on “Paul, Apostle of Christ.”

Groth called “Full of Grace” “a feature film that wasn’t supposed to be a feature film,” but one that led to “Paul” being made.

The big name in “Paul” is Jim Caviezel, who played Jesus in Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” in 2004 and portrays St. Luke here. “We wanted to use, in a good way, his star. He’s a star, but he’s not the leading man,” Groth said. For those who think Caviezel is playing Paul, Groth replied, “Jim’s playing Luke. Come find out about Luke, too.”

Paul is played by James Faulkner, who portrayed Randyll Tarly on HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” Lord Sinderby on PBS’ “Downton Abbey,” and Pope Sixtus IV on Starz’ period drama “Da Vinci’s Demons.” Faulkner also has read each of Paul’s letters in the New Testament in a series to be released by the American Bible Society.

“Paul, Apostle of Christ” is rated PG-13 for disturbing images and violent content, virtually all of it Roman violence against Christians, although one group of Christians decides to act in a highly un-Christian way in response to the dictums against their sect by Roman Emperor Nero.

Groth declared “Paul” “OK for middle school and up,” adding some of the imagery in it could have been worse. “We flipped the room when they (a group of condemned Christians) were going out into the lions” so that the lions and the carnage are never seen, Groth said.

He gave credit to Sony Pictures for its willingness to go out on a limb with the movie. “They stretched partnering with a Catholic organization, they stretched in the idea, they stretched in the screening schedule,” which had started a few months before its March 23 premiere, Groth said. A constant comment he said he had received from preview audiences was that the film was “imbued with Scripture without it having been read to them.”

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