The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Puerto Rico recently showed its first major evangelistic film at four of the largest drive-in theaters across the island. The film, titled “Spin”, is about a teenage girl who has problems at home, joins a table tennis club, learns to play the sport, meets someone who helps her find meaning in her life, and ends up playing at a national competition. More than 300 cars crowded the Hiram Bithorn Stadium parking lot in the capital city of San Juan, where more than 1,000 people viewed the premiere of Spin on August 21st.
The film took the island by storm after radio, television, print, and social media announced its showtimes, church leaders said.
“This project allowed us to enter a new dimension in communications,” said Pastor Luis Rivera, President of the church in Puerto Rico. “The church has already done a good job with radio and television, [but] this is the first time the church gets into the world of films, and we want to do so with a firm step, led by the Lord so that it can reach all types of demographics that we are not able to reach through radio, television, and churches.”
Filmed entirely in Puerto Rico, Spin falls under the category of drama/sports and carries a message of hope for persons who are going through difficult situations; it touches on friendship, faith, and overcoming hardships. The film, which clocks in at just under two hours, focuses on three main areas that are key in table tennis as well as life: belief, focus and play.
“We are using the feature-length film to draw the attention to a world that is used to this medium and we have great expectations that it will continue touching... many lives,” said Pastor David Sebastian, Communications Director for the church in Puerto Rico. More than 1,300 people watched the film last month. The film is striking a chord with young people and the young at heart who are dealing with many challenges and struggles.
The church decided to fund the film project after writer and director José Oscar Sánchez and producer Jonathan López presented it to leaders in 2018. Production was completed through Clay Cup Pictures in association with Torre Alta Films in August of 2019. The film was scheduled to be released by Easter Week in 2020 but because of the pandemic, the release had to be postponed, said López.
Upon hearing of the film project, leaders at Hope Channel Inter-America and the Adventist World Church’s communications department also assisted with funding the film.
Abel Márquez, Communications Director for the church in Inter-America and Executive Director of Hope Channel Inter-America, said the film is an excellent initiative of convergence. “This project involved laypersons, organizations and institutions which collaborated together with a common purpose - to give a positive message through a medium that we have not explored very much,” said Márquez. Spin is an example of what the church and its media production centers can do when they work collaboratively. “Having the vision to identify such [film] projects, support them and collaborate among organizations can bring lasting effects in the lives of people,” Marquez said. The film is scheduled to be featured on the Hope Channel Inter-America at the end of October, he said.
In addition, Spin is being forwarded to the General Conference to be translated into different languages, said Sebastian. “This is a great advancement, to be able to use cinematography to reach people [where they] are and in different languages,” Sebastian said.
Spin will be shown across the eastern part of Puerto Rico and the neighboring island of Vieques in the coming weeks.
To find out more about the Spin film project and resources, visit adventistas.pr
David Sebastian contributed to this report.