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Lifestyle

March 30, 2007

Powerful cinema; Annual Christian Film Festival screening in Lawrence

LAWRENCE - In the beginning, there was the 1959 classic "Ben Hur." Nearly a half-century later, there was Mel Gibson's "Passion of the Christ."



Today, Christianity is changing the face of television with "7th Street Theater," a half-hour series on Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN).



Johanna Jowett and Josh Gaffga, two actors in the series, are making a guest appearance at Showcase Cinemas in Lawrence for the 15th annual Christian Film Festival. The festival starts Sunday, which is Palm Sunday, and runs through Easter Sunday, April 8.



Also coming to the cinema are Christian movie actors Kevin Downes of "The Moment After 2," Tracy Goode of "Facing the Giants" and producer David A.R. White, who travels the country performing a one-man Christian show.



"This is the best lineup of movies we've ever had, and it makes it extra special having the guest stars and producers," said Tom Saab, who founded the festival.



The festival features 12 movies, including "Facing the Giants," "Jesus" and "The Moment After 2," as well as four films for children.



The movies range from drama to suspense, animation to comedy, all with a Christian message. Saab previews 25 to 30 films a year before deciding which to choose for the festival.



"I want to make sure Jesus is lifted up and glorified in the movies," he said.



This year's lineup includes "Behind the Sun," a story of a Muslim man who comes to study in America and converts to Christianity.



"This is an unbelievable, powerful film because of the courage he shows as he takes a stance for Christ in his country," Saab said.



Other movies with powerful messages include "Road to Redemption," which focuses on forgiveness, and "Hidden Secrets," which touches on controversial themes.



"People are going to flip out over this movie," Saab said of "Hidden Secrets, "because of the messages it contains and how professional it was done."



"Jesus," a popular movie returning after a five-year hiatus, was taken directly from the Gospel of Luke and was shot on location in the Holy Land.



"If anybody has questions about Jesus and wants to know the truth about him," Saab said, "this is the movie to watch."



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