The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Puerto Rico recently showed its first major evangelistic film at four of the largest drive-in theaters across the island.
The film, called Spin, tells the story of a teenage girl who has problems at home, joins a table tennis club, learns to play the sport, meets someone who helps her find meaning in her life, and ends up playing at a national competition. More than 300 cars crowded the Hiram Bithorn Stadium parking lot in San Juan, the capital city, where more than 1,000 people viewed the premiere of Spin on August 21, 2021.
The film took the island by storm after radio, television, print, and social media announced its showtimes, church leaders said.
“This project allowed us to enter a new dimension in communication,” Luis Rivera, president of the Puerto Rican Union Conference of the Adventist Church, said. “The church has already done a good job with radio and television throughout, but this is the first time the church gets into the world of films,” he said. “We want to do so with a firm step, led by the Lord so that it can reach all types of demographics that we are not able to reach through radio, television, and churches.”
Filmed entirely in Puerto Rico, Spin falls under the category of drama/sports. It carries a message of hope for people going through difficult situations, touching on friendship, faith, and overcoming hardships. The film, which clocks in at just under two hours, focuses on three main areas that are key in table tennis and life: belief, focus, and play.
“We are using the feature-length film to draw the attention of a world that is used to this medium, and we have great expectations that it will continue touching so many lives,” David Sebastian, communication director of the Adventist Church in Puerto Rico, said. He said that the film is striking a chord with many young people and the young at heart who are dealing with challenges and struggles.
The church decided to fund the film project after writer and director José Oscar Sánchez and producer Jonathan López presented it to leaders in 2018. Production was completed through Clay Cup Pictures in association with Torre Alta Films in August of 2019. The film was scheduled to be released by Easter Week in 2020, but the release had to be postponed because of the pandemic, López said.
Upon hearing of the film project, leaders at Hope Channel Inter-America and the General Conference Communication Department also assisted with funding for the film.
Abel Márquez, communication director for the Inter-American Division of the Adventist Church and executive director of Hope Channel Inter-America, said the film is an excellent convergence initiative. “This project involved laypersons, organizations, and institutions which collaborated with a common purpose to give a positive message through a medium that we have not explored very much,” Márquez said. Spin is an example of what the church and its media production centers can do when working collaboratively. “Having the vision to identify such [film] projects, support them and collaborate among organizations can bring lasting effects in the lives of people,” Marquez said. The film is scheduled to be featured on Hope Channel Inter-America at the end of October, he said.
In addition, Spin is being forwarded to the General Conference to be dubbed into several languages, Sebastian said. “This is great progress, being able to use cinematography to reach where people are and in different languages,” he said.
Spin will be shown across the eastern part of Puerto Rico and the neighboring island of Vieques in the coming weeks.