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Audiences feel connection with musical family depicted in “Unsung Hero”

Filmmaker Andy Erwin is no stranger to success, with a long string of popular Christian movies. Even so, his new film “Unsung Hero” is different.

“I don’t know what it is that makes this one stand out, but there is something magical that happens when audiences watch it,” he says. The comments follow the world premiere in Nashville this week. “They just stand and cheer. I haven’t seen that in my career. I don’t know what separates this one, but it has the secret sauce.”

“Unsung Hero” tells the true story of the Smallbone family, known in the music industry as brothers Luke and Joel Smallbone of the Grammy Award-winning Christian band for King and Country, and their sister Rebecca, better known as singer-songwriter Rebecca St. James.

The film follows patriarch David Smallbone who, after his music company collapses in their home country of Australia, moves his wife and six children, with one on the way, to Nashville, in hopes of a brighter future. However, the family faces a series of unforeseen challenges and is forced to rely on one another, their local community and their faith to sustain them as they survive in a foreign country.

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The real Luke and Joel Smallbone.

“We gravitate toward true stories,” Erwin said. “Especially as Christians, our goal is not to preach to the choir; our goal is to preach to as many people outside the church as possible. We have to have something they can relate to. You can preach at them all day long, and that’ll turn them off. But if you can share your real-life struggles and say, ‘This is what I went through,’ through a Christian worldview, that will resonate. Sometimes, in the Christian community, we are uncomfortable with tension, but when we can embrace it and point to Jesus, that’s when people see it and say, ‘I want that.’”

READ: For King and Country on the power of Christian music

Matriarch Helen Smallbone is depicted as the backbone of her family. It’s her unrelenting faith, commitment to her husband and reliance on prayer amid difficulties that sustains her family as they face an uncertain future. According to Richard Ramsey, who directed the film alongside Smallbone, the title of the film is a nod to Helen Smallbone’s resilience.

“People will identify with a lot of the characters in this story,” he told the Christian Post last week. “When the Smallbones finally do succeed, the rush of hope it provides is so invigorating. They relied on God, they prayed for the miracles in their life. Helen Smallbone is really the ‘unsung hero’ of this story, and people are really resonating with that.”

–Dwight Widaman | MV

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