‘He’s Coming,’ a Film on Teen Cancer, Raises Awareness for Bone Marrow Donation

Initial showing was held at the recent Pathfinder camporee in southeast Brazil.

Fabiana Lopes, South American Division, and Adventist Review
‘He’s Coming,’ a Film on Teen Cancer, Raises Awareness for Bone Marrow Donation
The film He’s Coming, recorded in just seven days, highlights the importance of bone marrow donation. [Photo: Southeast Brazil Union Conference]

No one blinked. Two hours passed, and the gripping story made the audience forget to check their watches.

He’s Coming is a full-length feature film recently shown at the 7th Pathfinder Camporee of the Southeast Brazil Union Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, held in Lavras, Minas Gerais, Brazil. The film tells the story of João, Camila, and Rodrigo, teenagers facing the harsh reality of cancer. João, diagnosed with leukemia, fights the disease alongside his best friend, Camila, who prays for a divine miracle for his healing.

He’s Coming premieres in the second half of this year on the online streaming platform Feliz7Play.

“When the recording [for the film] ended, my knee was all bruised, because so many times Camila had knelt to pray,” Maythê Costa, who played Camila, said. The film brought her closer to God through the power of prayer, Costa said, as her character is a person of great faith.

In the film, Rodrigo, another patient with childhood lymphoma, manages to recover thanks to a bone marrow transplant. The initiative helps raise awareness of the importance and impact that marrow donation can have on people’s lives.

The movie, shot in just seven days, took long hours of hard work, the film producers said. “The script was written out of the songs selected for the movie,” Ester Leal, a conductor and pianist responsible for the film’s music, scenography, and costume design, said. “The singers’ performance was outstanding. I feel ecstatic!” she said.

Scriptwriter Francis Matos said the idea for the production came from a request of Gustavo Delgado, Pathfinder Camporee organizer. He suggested that the themes of creation, redemption, and Jesus’ return be incorporated in a film production.

“We included a lot of music in the film and resorted to the language teenagers commonly use. At the same time, we strove to avoid just telling biblical stories the usual way,” Matos said.

Feedback from the Cast

João Carlos Macena Barreto debuted as the actor playing Rodrigo. “I felt a mixture of joy and tension, because the scenes performed inside the hospital were intense,” Barreto said. “I grew up in an Adventist family, and this film taught me that regardless of your physical condition, you can and should preach the gospel.”

Daniel Alexs, who plays João, said that he had little time to prepare for his role. “Cancer is such a delicate subject,” he said. “In addition to the film’s spiritual significance, encouraging people to become bone marrow donors was one of the most wonderful experiences I have had to date.”

True-to-Life Similarities

A few days before her 18th birthday, Thais da Silva Colares from the Rosa de Saron Pathfinder club in Rio de Janeiro received a cancer diagnosis that would change her life completely. At that moment, her Pathfinder club made a great difference in her life, she said.

During her cancer treatment, Colares needed eleven blood transfusions. She spent her birthday — about a year before the 7th Pathfinder Camporee — in hospital. On that day, her friends surprised her with a banner with her name and encouraging messages. As if that were not enough, her Pathfinder friends shaved their heads at two different times, first during her chemotherapy treatment and then toward the end of the recent camporee.

“This camporee was amazing!” Colares said. “Being with my friends was wonderful and rewarding. I’m very, very, very happy because I didn’t expect to be here. When I got my diagnosis, I thought it would be impossible to attend.”

Colares watched the new film from the front row and said she saw herself reflected in the various situations the characters went through.

“It was a mixture of emotions,” she said. “I cried, smiled, and relived some moments of my experience. But I can say that my club is my family, and my friends are amazing. I can feel their embrace!” she said.

Donor Registration

During the camporee, which took place July 19-23 and drew around 16,000 Pathfinders to the site near Minas Gerais Adventist College, Pathfinders were able to register as bone marrow donors. Each registered donor will now appear in a national database. In case of eventual compatibility with a patient, the donor bank contacts the person. The general likelihood of being compatible is just one in 100,000 people, donor bank professionals reported.

“It makes it imperative that we increase the number of donors as much as possible,” they said.

The original version of this story was posted on the South American Division Portuguese-language news site.

Fabiana Lopes, South American Division, and Adventist Review