Yet in most feel good gospel movies, there is always a happy ending. That may not be the case in the upcoming big screen debut of "I'm Goin' to Church," a project conceived by area writer, director and producer, DaJuan Savage.
"In some situations in life the outcome may not be the happy ending – such as real life," said Savage. "I really wrote (the movie) as everyday life. It's what we go through Monday through Saturday that keeps us running to the church on Sunday."
The story of "I'm Goin' to Church," which was adapted from a stage play of the same name written by Savage, centers around a pastor of an inner city church who is fighting to save his church from foreclosure; and at the same time fighting to save souls in the community, all the while being targeted by a ruthless drug kingpin who sees the pastor and the church as a threat to business. The movie, which is really a collection of episodes developed for the Web, does not follow the same script as the play.
"The play was a lot lighter and had a more gospel feel to it," said Savage. "With the movie it definitely has a gospel message but I kept it real; I kept it raw. We touch on subjects such as poverty, prostitution, drugs, gang violence – even same sex relationships. I want it to spark conversation."
The film features an all area cast, including singer Rico Nevotion, Richard Wood, Cearah Hamilton, Xavier Nash, Joisah Jackson and Jeremy Thomas.
"That was my number one thing to use local talent. We have a lot of raw talent here," said Savage, who said "I'm Goin' to Church" is his first scripted feature film, but he has produced documentaries on homelessness in the past.
Executive producer and creative director Traci Kerney said she was instantly drawn to the project.
"This is my life story in many ways," said Kerney. "It's my life growing up in East St. Louis, (Ill.) and moving to Minnesota; and through the film I relive it without judgment. That's what this film is really about to me."
"I'm Goin' to Church" debuts at the Lagoon Cinema, 1320 Lagoon Ave., Uptown Minneapolis this coming Thursday (Sept. 26). There is a red carpet arrival at 6 p.m. with the film starting at 7 p.m. Admission is $10. Following the premiere, there will be an open-to-the-public cast party next door at the Uptown Tavern and Rooftop. The Web episodes can be seen online at www.savagetelevision.com.
I'm Goin' to Church
Lagoon Cinema – 1320 Lagoon Ave., Uptown Minneapolis
Thursday, Sept. 26
Red carpet, 6 p.m., show 7 p.m.