Would most major Hollywood distributors prefer a movie with gratuitous sex and violence over a film with a positive message? Unfortunately, the answer is yes, say independent film producers Rob and Joyce Marcarelli, who have experienced difficulty in getting industry attention for their new movie.

The Marcarellis, members of the Malibu Presbyterian Church, have cowritten, directed, and produced Original Intent, a film about an upwardly mobile attorney who is materially rich but spiritually bankrupt. The attorney becomes involved in defending a Christian homeless shelter, and in the process, begins to reexamine his own life and values. The Marcarellis call it a “film from the heart,” the kind of film that makes the viewer think and reflect.

Among those in the cast are well-known actors Kris Kristofferson, Martin Sheen, and Academy Award nominee Candy Clark. The End Hunger Network, a nonprofit media group focusing on hunger and homeless issues, has thrown its support behind the film as well. Yet despite the involvement of “big-name,” marketable personalities, major Hollywood distribution companies who release movies for viewing in theaters nationwide have shown reluctance about the project. Trans Atlantic Pictures has agreed to distribute Original Intent overseas, but the Marcarellis have spent much time trying to secure a distribution company willing to release their film in the United States.

“The general problem is that our film … is not an ‘exploitation film’ [one that panders to an interest in sex and violence] in the traditional sense,” Rob Marcarelli told CHRISTIANITY TODAY. “Distributors don’t see the marketability of films from the heart.”

Yet, he believes films of the heart do well, once released. Most of the recent Academy Award winners, including last year’s Driving Miss Daisy, were independently produced films, he said.

Although not explicitly Christian, Original Intent contains a Judeo-Christian message embraced by all faiths, Marcarelli said. “My whole philosophy is not to produce religious films, but films that cause people to think about their human existence, their soul, and their responsibility on earth, but without preaching,” he said.

At press time, Marcarelli said negotiations are under way, and he is confident a domestic distribution deal will be worked out so the film can be released by February 1991. He does not subscribe to the theory that there is an anti-Christian conspiracy in Hollywood to keep Christians out. Rather, he said, much of the Hollywood structure is “out of touch” with the values of much of America.

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