This coming May, a brand new faith-based film from Judd Brannon ("War Room") hits the big screen and promises to inspire and uplift audiences of all ages.
"Champion", from Brannon Pictures and produced by support from First Baptist Church Woodstock, GA -- where Brannon is on staff -- tells of race car driver Sean Weathers' journey following a tragic on-track accident that rips apart his family, leaving him vulnerable to the last person on earth who should help him.
The dirt-track racing movie examines topics such as faith, forgiveness, fatherhood, foster parenting and the power of second chances and stars Andrew Cheney ("Beyond the Mask"), Gary Graham (Star Trek "Renegades," "All the Right Moves") and Robert Amaya ("Courageous", "Mom's Night Out").
In an exclusive interview with The Gospel Herald, Brannon opened up about the forthcoming film, his own experience with foster care, and why he believes "Champion" will resonate with both faith-based and secular audiences.
GH: What inspired "Champion"?
JB: God put this story on my heart about 5 years ago. My desire was to reach people with the love of Christ. I feel that the foundation of the gospel is forgiveness. Before we can accept the gift of salvation we must understand that first we need to be forgiven and second God is offering to forgive us of all our sins. "Champion" is story of being forgiven and forgiving. I wrote the original storyline and through a partnership with Missy Reedy and Sarah Inabnit to develop the script.
GH: One of the major themes in this film is forgiveness and redemption. Why is this message relevant in today's culture?
JB: Forgiveness is something that people at every stage of their spiritual walk need to be reminded of. The lost need to recognize their need for forgiveness and know that God has His arms open wide just waiting to offer that forgiveness. Christians too often harbor unforgiveness for those that have wronged us. There are offenses that just seem unforgivable. My prayer is that "Champion" will stir the hearts of unbelieving viewers to accept God's forgiveness for the first time and to convict Christian viewers to recommit to a spirit of forgiveness of others. My God is big, and my goals are big. I want "Champion" to be a tool to change hearts and lives for eternity.
GH: Foster care is another important theme in the film, and it's something you and your family have done for years. What do you want audiences to know about foster care?
JB: Foster care is an important part of this movie. It has been a blessing to be foster parents, and we have witnessed the amazing power of caring for children in difficult situations. "Champion" illustrates how Christian families can help other families heal by living out James 1:27.
GH: How did your own role as a father influence your work on this movie?
JB: I have been blessed to have a loving father that has encouraged throughout my life. He was a great influence in helping make the vision of Champion become a reality. My parents were the the first to invest in the film, helped with running errands during production, and are sharing about the movie with every person they has ever known. I hope I am following his example to be a loving father to my boys. The strength of my love for my own children helped me play out the relationship between Gracie and her father as we developed the script.
GH: What would you tell non-Christians to encourage them to see this movie?
JB: I am excited about the dirt-track racing element of the movie. My hope is that a race car fan may come across "Champion" and decide to watch it. As he is drawn into the racing, my prayer would be that he is moved by the Holy Spirit and captivated by the story of God's forgiveness. "Champion" brings to life the gospel message in a way that Non-Christians can clearly understand the gift that God is offering. The message is woven into the story rather than preached in a sermon.
GH: What similarities does this film have to "War Room"? How do you decide which projects to tackle?
JB: I truly admire the Kendrick brothers and how they have paved a path for the Christian film market. It was an honor to be able to work on "War Room" and see Christian values demonstrated not only on the camera but in the filming as well. Stephen has been such an encourager and godly mentor to me through this whole process. In the future, I would desire to work on films that share Biblical truths and work to glorify God in every stage of the production.
GH: What you do you hope audiences take away from "Champion"?
JB: God gave me the vision for "Champion". He provided for every need along the way in amazing and often surprising ways. My personal faith grew as I faced challenges and found that often the only thing I could do was get down on my knees. I always found that God answered. I pray that viewers will connect with the characters and recognize their own need for forgiveness and the love God offers. I was encouraged to already hear the impact of Champion as a church leader that previewed the film shared that her heart was convicted through the film to reconcile a long lost relationship with her father. It brought tears because that is exactly what God had planned. "Champion" uses the language of today's culture, "movies," to reach people with a message that will change their lives.
"Champion" releases theatrically May 19. To learn more, visit: www.ChampionTheMovie.com