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‘The Firing Squad’ Movie Already a Hit Before National Release

Epoch Studios’ “The Firing Squad,” which is based on a true story, premiered at a special red carpet screening in New York on March 30.

There’s an old military saying: There are no atheists in foxholes. That might also be true if you’re a prisoner on death row facing a firing squad.

It’s one reason that focusing on your eternal life instead of the one here on Earth might lead you to accept God.

That’s the premise of the movie, which follows the lives of eight prisoners in Indonesia who were put to death by firing squad on April 29, 2015. Those men found salvation within prison walls, dying as Christians who came to realize the error of their ways while embracing the love of Jesus. The story of Christians being executed by a firing squad gained global attention at the time; becoming changed men who had accepted Jesus as their savior was not enough to secure a stay of execution.

“Firing Squad” features some household names in Kevin Sorbo (“Hercules,” “God’s Not Dead”), Academy Award nominee Eric Roberts (“Runaway Train”), and Academy Award winner Cuba Gooding Jr. (“Jerry Maguire”).

James Barrington has the lead as a wealthy drug runner who goes through a transformation while awaiting his fate, finding not only the love of God but also that of a woman, whom he marries the day before his execution.

Directed by Tim Chey (“The Epic Journey,” “Suing the Devil”), the film follows the journey of redemption as the prisoners slowly come around to their new beliefs. Mr. Chey said he became interested in the story when he saw a report about prisoners being executed on a newscast in 2015.

“The reporter said, ‘They’re calm because they have a savior,’“ Mr. Chey said. ”And that’s when it rang a huge bell in me, and I said, ‘Wow, I want to find out more about this story.’ And of course, the media ... tried to shut it down. And this is what brought us to our journey years later in New York City.”

Mr. Chey said one man who watched the film told him: “I was on the verge of suicide, but I saw your movie, and I accepted Jesus. And now I’m a new man.”

Brought to Tears

At a special red carpet screening on March 30 in New York, moviegoers said that the film made its point very well.

After the March 30 screening, Aamari Mason, a teaching assistant, said: “I would say the message is really clear: Don’t give up on God. It shows that no matter what situation you’re in, God will always be there.”

Phil Cuza, representing American Conservative Artist, said: “It’s a powerful message. At a time when we’re having so much discussion about freedom and values and the Constitution, it’s a movie based on faith and redemption. It’s a timely message.” He said the ending left him “teary-eyed.”

Marina Caputo, a teacher, said the film was “A roller coaster of emotion. ... I have to say you feel almost angry, like Peter, and then towards the end, you feel at peace.”

The Actors’ Perspectives

Mr. Barrington, whose character goes from a life of private jets and other trappings of wealth to a jail cell, said that after seeing the script and becoming familiar with Mr. Chey’s faith-based films, he wanted to be on board because he likes films that are “pure, with good intentions.”

He added that the role was unique. “Emotionally one of the challenges was that this really happened,“ he said. ”I’m playing a character who did get caught and get executed by firing squad. I read the news articles about what really happened, and I channeled that. I start off as a drug runner and transition into a pastor in the jail. It’s a complete character change. I’m a Christian, so I could tap into that.”

Mr. Barrington said the film shows that God can bring people through the most extreme circumstances.

Tupua Ainu’u plays the hard-edged prison commander who is skeptical of the religious transformation the men go through and of religion itself. He said people on set got emotional during filming.

Mr. Ainu’u said he enjoyed the opportunity to share his personal faith in the film. “To be able to share my testimony with Christ through this film was beautiful,“ he said. ”The film is a feeling of hope. A feeling of forgiveness. Redemption, grace, mercy. I want people to leave the theaters feeling hopeful. I think this movie helps me be a better child of God.”

The film’s subject strongly affected Cuba Gooding Jr., who recommitted his life to Jesus on the set.

Mr. Ainu’u said the movie has a little bit of everything. “There’s action, there’s drama,“ he said. ”The faith part of it is the icing on the cake. It’s a solid movie, but having the faith-based part as an added layer makes it more special.”

Mr. Chey said he hopes that people who see the movie will get the important message. “What I want people to take away from the film is that no one is beyond redemption,“ he said. ”No one had sinned more than me. But God forgave me, he gave me a new life. This is the 16th movie that I’ve directed, and I owe it all to God.”

The movie, which is Epoch Studios’ first faith-based film, will be released nationwide in theaters in August. The film is dedicated to the Christians who were executed.

Supporters of Christian-based films can also invest in the movie here:

With reporting by NTD.

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