- Deseret News - Friday, March 13, 2015

Using film to promote its family oriented message is not a new concept for Focus on the Family.

The organization traces its roots to the late 1970s, and by the end of the decade had produced a seven-part film series as a parenting resource that has been seen by more than 80 million people, according to focusonthefamily.com.

“It’s something we’ve been doing for years,” Jim Mhoon, vice president of content development and integration for Focus on the Family, said in an interview with the Deseret News. “We believe in it.”

While the group’s film efforts were formally viewed predominately in church and home settings, Focus on the Family is moving into theaters across the United States with theatrical releases. Its most recent effort, “The Drop Box,” was screened nationwide March 3-5 in 727 theaters on more than 900 screens to more than 210,000 people.

Mr. Mhoon said the response exceeded the organization’s expectations, and many theaters sold out each screening. An encore presentation is scheduled for 430 theaters on March 16.



The documentary details the story of Pastor Lee Jong-rak, a South Korean cleric who saw a need to help young orphans in Seoul and decided to act. He built a “drop box” at the front of his church as a place for mothers to take babies that “would otherwise be abandoned” on the streets, according to thedropboxfilm.com.

According to a news release, Pastor Lee has helped more than 600 babies, many of whom have disabilities.

“It’s a very touching story,” Mr. Mhoon said. “When you encounter Pastor Lee and his wife, you see two people who live their lives so sacrificially. I mean, they basically have given up all material wealth; they’ve given up most of their freedom to serve children who really can never do anything in return for them.”

Kelly Rosati, vice president of community outreach at Focus on the Family, said she believes the film “represents everything that Focus on the Family is all about,” including “advocacy for children” and the “dignity of every human being.”

“We hope that (viewers) will learn that there is a need for folks to get involved to care for orphans, and that’s across the world and in our own country,” she said.

The film is a joint effort by Focus on the Family, Pine Creek Entertainment and Kindred Image, which is a nonprofit organization that supports Pastor Lee’s mission. Focus on the Family is a faith-based ministry dedicated to “helping families thrive,” and “The Drop Box” is the second in the organization’s Reclamation series of documentaries “that focus on the importance of marriage, family and a Christ-centered response to social issues,” according to a news release.

The first documentary in the series, “Irreplaceable,” was screened at participating theaters in May 2014 and explored the idea of what it means to be a family in today’s society. More than 112,000 people attended the initial screening, according to a previous Deseret News article, prompting an encore screening later in the month.

Mr. Mhoon said the third film in the series will likely be screened in early 2016 and will be a documentary on “the issue of family formation, dating and marriage.” With fewer and fewer people choosing to marry and more and more marriages ending in divorce, society is experiencing a “global crisis” in regards to marriage, according to Mr. Mhoon.

“Marriage used to be the beginning of the journey,” he said. “Now there are all these presumed prerequisites or what has to be in place before people can marry. So we’re asking, ‘Well, why is that? Is that good for us?’”

According to Mr. Mhoon, other possible future projects in the series include a documentary about fatherhood, and exploring the possibility of acquiring previously produced films that are aligned with the series’ mission and distributing them to a larger audience, as the group did with “The Drop Box.”

While Focus on the Family has seen success with both “Irreplaceable” and “The Drop Box,” Mr. Mhoon said the films in the Reclamation series aren’t meant to be about getting a “positive return” but are instead intended to send a message.

“If you haven’t noticed, we have an agenda to encourage people to form their families and to make a lifetime commitment to one another and to do what it takes to stay together and build good relationships and be there for their kids and grandkids,” he said.

“The Drop Box” will be screened at participating theaters on March 16.

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