CHANGING THE WORLD WITH JUST ONE FILM - “IMPACT: THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST” (DVD) … How would you like to meet Johnny Olsen, a neo-Nazi, considered to be the most dangerous man in Norway?  Not in person, of course, but on film, in an exclusive interview with Christian filmmakers who have been following the worldwide impact of director Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ.”  Two hours after seeing “The Passion of the Christ,” Olsen turned himself in for two of the worst bombings in Norway’s history.  But he’s not the only one.  Dan Leach had already gotten away with murder when he saw the film.  And Arch Bonnema was hoping to do something for Jesus.  Who’d have thought that he would buy 6,000 tickets, which assured Gibson’s film a place in theatres around the country – something that had been in great jeopardy before?  Just three of the thousands of people whose lives have been changed by this controversial but stunning film.

Released in select theatres last December, “Impact: The Passion of the Christ” (RiverRain Productions) is now available on DVD.  A portion of all proceeds benefit Campus Crusade for Christ.  For more information, visit www.impactthemovie.com.


“SUGAR CREEK GANG” HITS THE BIG SCREEN (DVD) … Owen Smith first conceived the idea of making a DVD series based upon the “Sugar Creek Gang” book series in 2003.  Written by the late Paul Hutchens, beginning in the late '40s, the 36 books sold more than 3 million copies.  Their premise was simple, yet appealing and affordable for the young, independent filmmaker.  Any child or adult ought to enjoy watching a group of kids in the rural 1950s, all close friends, encounter outdoor adventures together.  Unfortunately, getting the films made proved to be slightly more difficult than Smith imagined.

To convince the publisher to relinquish rights to the series, Smith shot footage of a young boy scout playing in a creek, created a trailer and sent it in.  After joining hands with writer/filmmaker Joy Chapman, Smith finally received a green light for the project.  Then Smith and Owen, who wrote, directed and produced the five films, invested their personal funds and returned to rural Georgia, their home state, where they filmed during summer vacation and school schedules.

Writes the Atlanta Journal-Constitution of the films, “Their world is a simple, happy place where a new fishing pole is cause for celebration and tragedy is a fish that won't bite. When dark clouds hover, silver linings abound. (There’s one sorry father in the neighborhood, for example, but a whole host of good-natured adults, including a kindly old grandfather figure, who balance things out with their big hearts.)"
The first three “Sugar Creek Gang” films – “Swamp Robber,” “The Great Canoe Fish,” “Revival Villains” – have now been completed, with two more – “Secret Hideout” and “Teacher Trouble” – to go.  For more information, visit www.SugarCreekGangMovie.com.


“HIGHWAY TO HEAVEN,” SEASON ONE, RIDES AGAIN (DVD) … Jonathan Smith isn’t your average helpful handyman.  He’s a guardian angel – however novice – with a mission from God, whom he calls “the Boss.”  Traveling the country with ex-cop Mark Gordon, Smith follows his heavenly assignments to dispatch love, understanding and humility to the people he encounters – whether a war veteran’s Eurasian daughter, who feels unwelcome in America, or a young boxer being pressured to throw a fight.  Whenever necessary, Smith uses a little angel power.

The late Michael Landon, a committed Christian, starred in all and co-wrote and directed some of the popular, award-winning series, which ran for five seasons, from 1984 to 1989. Victor French co-starred, as Gordon, and an array of high-profile actors, like Helen Hayes, Helen Hunt and Ned Beatty, made guest appearances.  Episodes typically deal with human failings such as egotism, bitterness and greed, and portray a range of human issues and frailties, including racism, illness and death.  Executive director Tim Winter calls the script “well-written” with a “socially-responsible, family-friendly theme.” 

In addition to all 24 episodes from season one, including the two-part pilot, the seven-disc set features outtakes and the documentary tribute, “Michael Landon: Memories with Laughter and Love.”


WHEN CARS AND HISTORY COLLIDE - “DRIVE THRU HISTORY: ROME IF YOU WANT” (DVD) … Enjoy Tyndale House’s latest DVD from the award-winning series, “Drive Thru History.”  With titles that include “The Search for the Real Mt. Sinai” and “The Mystery of the Ark of the Covenant,” the “Drive Thru History” documentary series focuses on history – with a healthy dose of humor and cars in a “fast, easy-to-digest road trip.”  In this title, Dave Stotts communicates Christian truth by re-enacting scenes from history, like picking a fight with Roman guards outside the Coliseum in Rome.  Aimed at families, homeschoolers, youth groups and Christian schools.  90 minutes.


“BREAKING THE DA VINCI CODE” (DVD) DISPUTES SOURCE DOCUMENTS BEHIND DAN BROWN NOVEL … Following its May 11 airing on PAX-TV Network, Grizzly Adams Productions (GAP) has released an extended 120-minute DVD version of the documentary, “Breaking the Da Vinci Code,” done in digital surround sound 5.1 audio.  Going toe-to-toe with Brown’s bestselling novel (25 million copies sold worldwide) and the upcoming Ron Howard film by the same name, the documentary explodes the alleged “fact” stated in the book’s opening statement that “all descriptions of artwork, architecture, documents and secret rituals in the novel are accurate.”

Brown’s plot centers around an alleged 2,000-year-old conspiracy that Leonardo da Vinci placed obscure clues in his paintings, The Last Supper and the Mona Lisa.  Those clues reportedly document secret facts about the life of Jesus, such as his marriage to Mary Magdalene and his fathering of a daughter with her, who allegedly carried Jesus’ bloodline through to the French Merovingian kings. 

The GAP documentary debunks these heresies by drawing on three best-selling novels, “The Da Vinci Deception,” by Erwin Lutzer; “Breaking the Da Vinci Code,” by Darrell Bock and “Cracking Da Vinci’s Code,” by Games Garlow & Peter Jones.  In exclusive interviews, well-known experts in theology, archeology, art, ancient history, philosophy and science vigorously disagree with Brown, exposing numerous historical errors presented by the author.  For more information about the DVD, visit www.grizzlyadams.tv.


MOVIES GETTING BUZZ FROM CHRISTIAN CRITICS … Christian critics are praising Ron Howard’s “Cinderella Man,” starring Russell Crowe and Renee Zellweger.  Most appreciate “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants,” as well.  Hillary Duff fans will want to see the upcoming “The Perfect Man.”  And, on the documentary side, critics of all sorts are raving about “Mad, Hot Ballroom.”