When Rick Santorum ran for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012, he emphasized moral values.
As a movie producer, Santorum does the same and he points to The Christmas Candle as a perfect example.
The movie about faith and miracles, which hit theaters Friday, was distributed by Santorum’s Flower Mound-based company.
“We’re not preaching to the audience,” he said at a recent red-carpet screening in Plano. “We are going to present really good entertainment, but it will have an inspirational story about the role of faith in people’s lives.”
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That element is often missing in Hollywood movies, Santorum said.
“My feeling is that Hollywood produces a lot of good content, but there’s a lot of bad content,” he said. “Hollywood doesn’t do faith very well. They either don’t do it at all or they don’t do it in a way I think is authentic.”
The family holiday offering is set in 19th-century England and was filmed in the United Kingdom and on the Isle of Man.
Susan Boyle, a British singer with a bell-like voice who won international acclaim for her 2009 appearance on Britain’s Got Talent, makes her film debut.
The Christmas Candle is based on a recent book of the same name by author and San Antonio minister Max Lucado. It’s about an angel who visits the fictional English village of Gladbury every 25 years and touches a candle, giving it miraculous power.
When a new minister comes to town and is skeptical of the candle miracle, conflicts develop. The movie stars Samantha Barks, who played Eponine last year in Les Miserables, and Hans Matheson, who was in Clash of the Titans and Sherlock Holmes.
Boyle plays the wife of the church warden and sings her latest single, Miracle Hymn.
In a statement, Lucado said, “My prayer is that audiences of all ages will leave The Christmas Candle with their hope restored by the message that God has — and always will — work miracles. Especially, at Christmastime.”
It’s the first movie based on one of his books.
Romo attends screening
The Christmas Candle is one of the first projects by EchoLight Studios since Santorum became chief operating officer in June. The studio also recently released Seasons of Gray, a modern-day telling of the biblical story of Joseph.
Among those attending the screening were Dallas Cowboys quarterbacks Tony Romo (current) and Drew Bledsoe (former), who is on the board of EchoLight.
“I’m very proud to be a part of this,” Bledsoe said. “I think The Christmas Candle has a chance to be a Christmas classic.”
During interviews, Romo and Bledsoe spoke of the importance of faith in their lives.
Romo was asked whether athletes are criticized for openly showing their faith in God.
“You’ve just got to find it doesn’t matter what other people are thinking,” Romo said. “I’ve got my faith and beliefs, so I just go out and try to be the best man I can be.”
Among others at the screening was the Rev. Pete Briscoe, senior pastor of Bent Tree Bible Fellowship in Carrollton, who said movies and other art forms can touch lives.
“Great art has the ability to get by all our defenses and get to our hearts,” he said.
Pop culture and politics
Entertainment and pop culture influence American society as much as — or more than — politics, Santorum said.
“It’s shaping the country. It’s shaping the world,” he said. “I think for far too long people who believe the things that I believe have had to play defense, trying to keep out bad culture rather than trying to produce good culture.”
Movies are not a big step away from politics, he said.
“If you are any kind of a politician, you have a little theater in you. You have to be able to communicate and connect to an audience,” Santorum said. “So storytelling and communicating messages is part of what I do. For me, getting into this area [movies] was sort of a natural.”
James Robison and his wife, Betty, who host the Life Today television program, also attended the screening. James Robison said he’s not surprised that Santorum continues to do things that have a positive effect on the nation.
“I think he will continue to be a leader,” he said. “The real hope for America is changed minds and changed hearts.”
Will Santorum, 55, re-enter politics?
“Right now I’m open to that,” he said. “But for the immediate future, I’m focused on making this a successful film.”