Major Cinema Challenge Mounted by Adventist Film Makers on Valentine’s Day Weekend
By AT News Team, Feb. 12, 2015: It is a David and Goliath moment this coming weekend in America’s cinema industry. Valentine’s Day is a big opportunity for new films with a love story as many couples plan a special date. The big-budget blockbuster this year is Fifty Shades of Grey, based on the best-selling erotic novel that includes bondage, domination and sadomasochism. Also opening this weekend is Old Fashioned, an independent movie that features a romance in which the couple waits for sex until after the wedding.
The indie movie is the work of two Adventist film makers. Rik Swartzwelder, who wrote the script, directed the movie and stars in it, grew up in rural Ohio and earned his college degree at Washington Adventist University (WAU). Producer Nathan Nazario is a member of the Apopka (Florida) Seventh-day Adventist Church.
In three preview markets last weekend, Old Fashioned attracted large crowds. It earned a very strong average $12,988 per screening in Orlando (Florida), Washington DC and Grand Rapids (Michigan). At the same time religious leaders such as the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Cincinnati, Dennis Schnurr, condemned Fifty Shades of Grey. He labeled it “a direct assault on Christian marriage” and urged the faithful to inform their communities about “the destructive message” of the Hollywood feature drama.
Old Fashioned is a classic romance story centered on Clay Walsh (played by Swartzwelder), a former frat boy who gives up his carousing and now runs an antique store in a small, Midwestern college town. When Amber Hewson (played by Elizabeth Ann Roberts), a free-spirited young woman with a restless soul, rents the apartment above the store, she finds herself surprisingly drawn to his lofty and outdated ideas about love, which are new and intriguing to her. Clay must step away from his relational theories and Amber must overcome her fears and deep wounds as the two of them attempt the impossible; an “old fashioned” courtship in contemporary society.
Sex is so common in the movies today that a public school teacher in Monessen, a suburb of Pittsburgh, handed out word search puzzles to middle school students based on the Fifty Shades of Grey movie and novel, reported the Associated Press yesterday. Some parents objected and a school board member explained it to journalists as “a huge but unintentional error.”
According to Match.com’s annual singles survey, 55 percent of single adults have sex on the first date. The majority believe that single adult couples should be sexually active by the third date. This is in stark contrast to the story told in Old Fashioned which is designed to demonstrate that traditional ideas of chivalry are still appropriate and even romantic; “romance with Christian values,” according to Swartzwelder.
Pastors have rallied behind Old Fashioned, seeing it as an opportunity for outreach in their communities. Pastor Allan Martin has been preaching a series of Sabbath sermons at the Arlington (Texas) Adventist Church in the suburbs of Dallas entitled “The Old Fashioned Way.” The production company has provided video clips, discussion guides and a host of advertizing materials and handouts at a Web site: www.oldfashionedmovie.com/churchresouces.
WAU has named Swartzwelder its 2015 Alumnus of the Year despite the fact that he went on to Florida State University to earn an MFA in motion picture production. He will be a featured speaker at the Alumni Weekend, April 9-12.