MINNO — A New Christian Streaming Service

MINNO — A New Christian Streaming Service

Posted on December 16, 2019 at 8:42 am

Copyright Minno 2019
Families who find the content on television, cable, and streaming services like Netflix and even some of the films on Disney Plus troubling for family viewing have a new alternative with extended Christian content, called MINNO (from the Greek for “to abide.” Their slogan: Stories kids love; values parents trust. The founders say, “We are parents, church volunteers, ministry leaders, developers, writers, and technology and entertainment executives with one mission: serving you, as Christian parents, in raising the next generation of believers…. our goal is to help families connect with God through amazing stories, books, and resources.” Viewers can find classics like Veggie Tales and programs like “What’s in the Bible?”, “3-2-1 Penguins”, and CBN’s “Superbook.”

And now three are two ways to share it;

1. Buy a Minno gift card! E-gift cards are now available for 1, 2, and 3 year subscriptions. A Minno subscription makes a great Christmas gift for a special family in your life.

2. Join the Minno High Five referral program and you’ll have immediate access to everything you need to share Minno with your friends through email and social media. As an added bonus, when a friend subscribes to Minno through your link, you’ll get a $5 e-gift card to the store for your choice.

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VOD and Streaming

Interview: Ali Faulkner of “The Song”

Posted on February 13, 2015 at 3:28 pm

Ali Faulkner is in every way the heart of the new faith-based film, “The Song.” She plays Rose, who inspires the title song and marries the musician who wrote it for her. Unlike most films, this one does not end with the wedding — it is only after they get married that the story really begins, as their marriage is tested when her husband spends most of his time touring. We are honored to have an exclusive clip about the film to share.

I spoke to Ali about the challenges of playing a good person and how she helped to define her character with some important costume decisions.             

“When I first tried out, I definitely was intimidated because I first thought ‘this person is perfect and I’m far from that. How am I going to do her justice?’ But then I got some really good advice from an acting coach. He said, ‘Her name is Rose and every rose has a thorn.’ And that just really struck home with me and so it kind of gave me a little bit of freedom to know that even though this is an incredibly beautiful person, she still has her weaknesses and but of course no person sees their own weaknesses until something big happens. So I just tried to rely on the truth of who she was. I mean you can’t get round the fact that she’s a wonderful person but her flaws showed up naturally in the film and I just tried to be as true to that possible.” Writer/director Richard Ramsey reassured her not to be afraid to give Rose a lightness and sense of humor. “He was like ‘Don’t be afraid to let her be beautiful and shine in her own way and have fun. She doesn’t have to be matronly.’ That is something that you definitely wanted to shy away from because no young girl is going to relate to that.”

The story covers many years and several different stages in the relationship, but they shot out of order. Ali and co-star Alan Powell had to go backwards at times, from the complicated scenes of hurt and betrayal to the earlier scenes of easy intimacy. “It’s just about talking, recognizing where you are in the relationship and the physical stuff helped a lot. I tried to wear like bangs when she was younger and then have a more mature look when she was older. Naturally you’re just thinking about what they’ve been through at moment right before the scene and then that kind of helps. I wanted her to wear a lot of light colors because it just felt unnatural to have her wearing black. In fact the only time I really wanted her to wear black was at her dad’s funeral,that’s it. And even there was one part where she wears a little sash around her dress and it was originally black and I changed it to brown. I don’t know it is one of those things where she’s just such a light spirit that I couldn’t, I just couldn’t put her in dark colors so Rose wore a lot of creams and ivories that really looked and felt beautiful and sweet and conservative but still at the same time womanly in her own way.”

Ali’s first interest in performing was singing. “Singing was my first love and then I got into musical theater and really loved that and just fell in love with the acting side of it and about seven years ago I decided to get into the film world and I just loved it and haven’t a looked back since. I just feel like film gives such opportunity to create things that live on. Our human instinct is going to create thing that will live on in some way.” She is guided by the advice not to try in acting, but “to allow. If you are open enough you can really allow yourself to connect with certain characters but if you try too hard you kind of get in your own way. So that I think is the biggest challenge and struggle that I’m always working on and that I feel like is really important.” Her early inspirations included opera and big, epic films like “Gladiator.” “They seem to pull me into a world that just resonated so deeply and I love it so much. Those are the films that inspired me the most probably.” The movie she’d recommend for a date night is “Love Actually,” which she describes as uplifting and warm.

Ali hopes that the couples who watch this film learn that “no matter where they are in their life we see things in a different way. I just want to them to take away whatever touches them or what ever aspect of the film speaks to them in any sort of positive way. But specifically I guess that challenges can be overcome, that there is hope for relationships that have been broken. And that the beautiful thing that forgiveness is and that forgiveness can heal.”

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Actors Interview Spiritual films Trailers, Previews, and Clips

“October Baby” Is Not As Controversial As Its Supporters Claim

Posted on March 31, 2012 at 8:00 am


October Baby” exceeded expectations in its opening weekend last week, making a respectable $1.7 million in only 390 theaters.  It is the story of a college student with multiple health problems who finds out for the first time that she was adopted and that her physical problems are the result of a failed abortion.  She goes on a journey with a friend to find her birth mother.

The reaction from critics was lukewarm at best, with only a 24 percent positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes, which also shows a healthy 89 percent approval from audience members.  That kind of disparity is not unusual, of course, because audiences are self-selected and those who make the effort to register their reactions online are a smaller self-selected subset motivated by strong feelings.

I’m always glad when a movie finds its audience, but it bugs me that the movie’s producers are trying to make the responses to the film into some sort of controversy, with some support from commentators.  I’d like to provide some clarification.

The producers are correct that it was a mistake for Hollywood studios to turn them down, as ticket sales show.  There is a substantial audience for this kind of movie and it is foolish to overlook (and underestimate) them.  Given the response to this movie, I believe that will change and I look forward to more resources being made available for better explorations of these vital themes.  And I respect the producers’ allocation of 10 percent of the profits of the film to the Every Life is Beautiful Fund, supporting “frontline organizations helping women face crisis pregnancies, life-affirming adoption agencies and those caring for orphans.”  Both those who believe in a woman’s right to choose and those who oppose abortion should be united on behalf of organizations that support reproductive health, pregnant women, and alternatives for those who want to carry their babies to term.

But the producers and commentators are wrong in saying that people who do not like the movie should be dismissed as biased left-wing abortion-supporters.  No one should make that claim unless they are willing to acknowledge that their own reaction to the film is just as likely to be affected by their political beliefs.  And no one should use language to describe another person’s political or religious views that the other person does not consider accurate.  It would be wonderful if good intentions were all that was necessary to make a good movie, but that is not the case.  Critics who reviewed the film as a movie and not as a piece of advocacy were entitled to critique it on that basis.  When TimesWatch, which is upfront about its mission to “reveal the New York Times’ liberal political agenda” says that the Times review by my friend Jeannette Catsoulis “seethed with anger and evident indignation that pro-lifers still existed in this day and age,” it is itself seething so hotly that it overlooks what Catsoulis really said: she did not like the movie because she thought it presented its arguments in an inflammatory and skewed manner.  In particular, she points to a significant scene in which a nurse played by Jasmine Guy speaks in Hell House terms about her experiences assisting in an abortion clinic.  She says that the movie communicates in the language of “guilt and fear” and that it “traffics primarily in soapy melodrama and false compassion.”

I agree with Catsoulis’ assessment of the film.  There are some affecting moments but overall it undermines its points with heavy-handedness and weak performances.   Even one of its strongest supporters admitted that its storyline is “sappy” and that it has poor pacing and under-developed characters.  Others will disagree.  That is true of any film and that is part of what makes it worthwhile and satisfying to talk about the movies we watch.  But we have to be able to do that without trying to discredit those who see them differently.  I especially object to those who complain about criticism of “October Baby” by generalizing about people of “faith,” assuming that the term is equivalent to conservative Christians who oppose abortion.  There are many faiths and there are many ways of interpreting and honoring God.  It does not help bring us closer to understanding and commonality to use divisive language like “faith-based” when what it really refers to is just one subset of the world of believers.  I really liked the part of the film where the Christian girl gets some wise and compassionate counsel from a Catholic priest.  I wish the commentary about the film embraced that kind of ecumenicalism.

It also bothers me when supporters of the film claim that it is fair to both sides.  The film’s promotional materials say that it “honestly and evenhandedly invites audiences to explore their own views of life’s value and the importance of their choices.”  It is not even-handed.  It has a clear point of view.  There is nothing wrong with advocacy on behalf of a cause you feel passionate about, as long as you are honest about what you are doing.  Failing to do so opens the people behind this film up to criticism like that from Catsoulis about the legitimacy of the way they frame the issues and the limits of the film’s notion of forgiveness.

As happens much too often in our polarized us/them debates these days, the claim of “controversy” is inflated and more inspired by marketing than by any effort to “explore” these painful and wrenching issues.  This is a movie about one of the most contested of all debates and no one should suggest that the people who made it and the people who see it will not bring to it their views on abortion.  But we should not let anyone make it more than that by describing those views in heightened and divisive terms or pretend that all criticism of the film is based on its message and not its story-telling.  It is nice that the film promotes forgiveness but it would be better if it promoted respect and finding common ground.

The film-makers have said that they wanted this film to appeal to an evangelical audience.  On their website they speak of the movie’s “ministry impact” and urge churches to arrange for congregational viewings.  But they also want to expand its reach to show outsiders that they should not stereotype evangelicals.  Filmmaker Jon Erwin said, “ if there’s a Christian virgin character, she’s the nerd. I wanted to swing the pendulum to say Christian home-schooling virgin teenagers, of which I was one—we’re not that weird!”  I agree that mainstream media too often caricatures people of faith and those who oppose abortion rights and I like the way “October Baby” shows us some nice, normal college students who are committed Christians.  If the supporters of the film and the people behind it also make some progress in swinging the pendulum on the way they characterize those of different faiths and supporters of abortion rights, we might get further with those conversations we all agree we need to have.


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Commentary Spiritual films

Interview: David Nixon of ‘Letters to God’

Posted on April 8, 2010 at 8:00 am

If you were desperately ill, what would you say to God? What would you ask for?
A boy named Tyler had some things he wanted to ask God when he became ill with cancer, and now his story has become a movie, Letters to God. I spoke to the film’s director, David Nixon, who has made a career out of faith-based films that, to the astonishment of Hollywood cynics, have been very successful with audiences. “Letters to God” opens tomorrow.
Tell me about the movie.
It’s the true story of a little boy in Nashville, Tennessee who went through brain cancer. While he was going through the chemo and all the horrible parts of that disease he was writing letters to his best friend, God. And he would put a stamp on it and put it in the mail. And the mailman, knowing that the little boy was a cancer boy, couldn’t bring himself to put those letters in the undeliverable bin — you know, that’s what happens in the post office, and it sits there for about six months and if nobody claims them, they shred them. But the mailman knew the little boy, so he kept the letters and he began to open them. And he discovered that the little boy wasn’t asking for anything for himself. He was asking for help for everyone else in his family, for the people in his neighborhood, for the people that the cancer was affecting, his mother and his grandmother, his brother, the little boy in school who was bullying him, saying things about his shaved head, about his best friend.
So the mailman started giving all those letters to the people the little boy was writing about. And you can imagine how they felt, how they responded. It did not only change the lives of the people in the community but it changed the mailman’s life. He was an alcoholic. His life was turned around because of the faith of the little cancer boy.
An extraordinary story. How did you find out about it?
We were putting together a film deal and looking for scripts and a friend who is a writer, Art D’Alessandro, had just polished the script for a guy up in Nashville, the father of the real boy. He’d never written a screenplay before so he asked Art for help. As soon as I read it, it just connected with me and I got on a plane to Nashville and met with Patrick and his wife and said, “We’ve got to make this movie.” Not just because it was a cancer story — though cancer is a universal theme that touches everyone because we are only about one degree of separation from somebody we know who is going through or has had cancer. But I thought, what a wonderful way to tell the story with the little sweet letters, a great way to get across the message.
I’d like to hear about your commitment to making faith-based films in an industry that does not seem to have as much interest in them as audiences do.
I’ve had this dream for about 30 years. I’ve had a secular production business but always wanted to make these kinds of films. You could never get distribution until something radical happened: “The Passion of the Christ” made $600 million. That opened the eyes of Hollywood. They saw that there was an under-served audience. Christians are going to movies! We’d better make a God film. And we were there with “Facing the Giants.” And that made $35 million. And then the church asked us to do “Fireproof.” And now every studio in LA has a faith-based arm. They are not quite sure what it is, but they know they can make money on it! We’re making as many of these as we can. We’re shooting two more this summer and we’ve got plans for number ten and number 100. We have to make money. But we can certainly use that pipeline to get our message out.
I think films are the greatest evangelical tool of our time. How else do you get to people who would never darken the door of a church. Or to your neighbor over the back yard that would never talk about faith. But they go to movies all the time, so why not use that to deliver your message.
What makes a movie a Christian movie?
You’ve got to have a message. We don’t want to be preachy or overbearing but you’ve got to get the gospel out. You’ve got to come up with a way to tell a true life story or a story that could be true of an average Joe, going through life like anyone else, maybe going through adversity, and how they react to that. Maybe they turn to the Bible instead of the bottle. Or they turn to God instead of the darkness.
That’s all our movies do. They’re telling true stories that people can connect with. It has to be real, or people aren’t going to get it. When people go and sit in that dark room for 90 minutes, and they drop their guard and empathize with those characters they see up on screen, it sears through your heart like nothing else can. People come out of these movies physically and emotionally changed.
And what’s next for you?
We’re making a Christian comedy called “Saving Livingston” and a true story about a girl here in Orlando called “To Write Love on Her Arms.”
What are some of your favorite movies?
“Chariots of Fire” and “The Mission.” Billy Graham’s Worldwide Pictures, the Cecil B. DeMille movies like “The Robe” and “The Ten Commandments. Then Hollywood went away from that and now here we are with a chance to tell these stories again. It’s heartening to me that we’re seeing more of these movies coming out.

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