When "The Saratov Approach" hit theaters last October, it shocked audiences across the United States with its record-breaking success. Latter-day Saints and their neighbors alike connected to the heart-wrenching struggled of two kidnapped missionaries relying on faith and prayer to preserve their testimonies, and their lives.
Now in response to Saratov audiences who enthusiastically requested more authentic, faith-promoting missionary stories, producers Garrett Batty and Jonathan Turner of Three Coin Productions have announced a follow-up film with an intense storyline in Africa.
When asked about where he got the idea, director Garrett Batty told LDS Living in an interview that he came across the idea for the film in the church archives. Titled "Freetown," the film is based on an amazing true story of eight LDS missionaries caught in the midst of civil war in Liberia. When rebels were invading Monrovia, the capital city of Liberia, productive missionary work was shut down. A group of eight native Liberian missionaries, however, felt it was important for them to continue serving, and began a plan to flee the country.
With rebels killing members of one tribe, and one of the missionaries belonging to the threatened tribe, Batty explains that "it's essentially a 'Saving Private Ryan' kind of story where seven missionaries rally around to get the one missionary out of the country. It's an amazing and complex story that ultimately just promotes faith and the goodness of God even in these harrowing circumstances."
Unusual characteristics of this film production include that it will be shot entirely in Africa, and will use mostly a native film crew.
The film is expected to have an audience beyond Latter-day Saints. In fact, Batty was quick to assure us that "What we're making is for the film-going audience, and if you happen to be LDS, fantastic. You'll enjoy it even more." Production is expected to begin late this summer.