By Janey DeMeo, Special to ASSIST News Service
VISTA, CA (ANS – August 19, 2105) — Where Hope Grows is a wonderful story with a difference. One of the major characters is a Down syndrome person and his authentic and generous affection. But before I tell you more about the movie, let me introduce you to Chris Dowling, the writer/director. In my interview with him, I was moved by Chris’ approach to sharing what is important to him—in particular His passion for Jesus.
J—I absolutely love this story. It was wonderful. But what made it especially inspiring is the character played by David DeSantis. What inspired you to make one of the key characters a Down syndrome person?
CD—Where Hope Grows is the story about a man who was introduced to child-like faith as an adult during a time when he was broken. I needed someone to show that child-like faith. So, it made sense to use David DeSantis. The world often thinks that special needs people don’t have it together, but maybe they have it together a lot more than many of us.
J—Am I correct in saying that this was David’s first time acting right?
CD—Yes. This was David’s first time acting—and he did a great job.
J—How did you hear about him?
CD—I put out a worldwide search but it was actually there in Louisville that a lot of people said I needed to check out David DeSantis. I had him send in a tape but the tape wasn’t that great. But his personality is so great, I thought he’d be a good fit. In real life, he is just adorable!
J—Where Hope Grows is packed with strong lessons, but what is the message you most want people to take away from it?
CD—It’s really two-fold. First there’s the conversation about faith. We all long to believe in something, to have faith/believe in God so we wanted to address that. At the same time, society is stuck with what they think special needs people are, and we wanted to shatter the stereotype image. We wanted Produce to be that person.
J—Is there anything else you want the readers to know about you or the film?
CD—I would say for people to see more films with special needs people, to support those films. If we can reach across to the secular crowd and faith believers too, Hollywood will take notice.
J—Thank you Chris. Wonderful movie.
So, what is Where Hope Grows?
It is a film of ex-baseball player, Calvin Campbell (Kristoffer Polaha—TV’s Ringer, TV’s Life Unexpected) and a losing relationship with his teenage daughter, Katie (McKaley Miller—TV’s The Gates, TV’s Hart of Dixie).
Juggling the demands of a pushy boyfriend and teen life overall, Katie is sick of being the only responsible person in the household. Her dad fails to keep his promises and she cannot rely on him for anything. Worse: the roles are reversed and Katie ends up bailing him out of an embarrassing situation.
If the story sounds cliché so far, a surprise element makes it not so. Calvin’s turnaround begins in the local grocery story where he meets an unlikely friend—Produce (David DeSanctis).
Produce is an authentic Down syndrome man who possesses a heart of gold and a brilliant memory for numbers. In his child-like innocence and pure faith, he is catalyst to Calvin’s redemption.
With compelling integrity and affection, Produce is enough to melt the hearts of anyone, even Calvin Campbell and his daughter, Katie.
Produced by Lionsgate, this inspiring film will be out in Blu-ray, and DVD on August 25th. Digital and HD Special features include:
* Entertaining deleted scenes
* Casting David DeSantis featurette
* Stop the R-Word featurette
* Audio commentary with writer/director Chris Dowling and actor David DeSantis
Find out more about Where Hope Grows here: https://youtu.be/Ud5oJ6ekgr4.
This is a fabulous movie that you’ll want to visit more than once.
Photo caption: 1) Scene from the movie. 2) Janey DeMeo.
About the writer: Janey DeMeo is founding-president of Orphans First—a Christ-cantered non-profit ministry helping underprivileged children around the world. She is an author, freelance writer and Bible teacher—and has worked with husband as a church-planter in France. www.orphansfirst.org
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