A flood of faith films led many to dub 2014 “The Year of the Bible,” but it was also a year of the status quo in Hollywood. The movie industry has a long history of casting white actors to play African and Middle Eastern Bible characters, so seeing the Welshman Christian Bale play Moses or Australian Russell Crowe play Noah or even a Portuguese actor play Jesus in “Son of God” felt to many like the opposite of racial progress. But religious audiences can witness a stark departure from this troubling trend when “War Room” hits theaters on August 28.
The fifth feature film produced by successful Christian moviemakers by Alex and Stephen Kendrick tells a story about the power of prayer. But it does so with an almost entirely African-American cast, including New York Times bestselling Christian author, Priscilla Shirer, in her movie debut.
“There is an element to the way we tell this story that has power and desperation that would be different if we tried to tell it any other way,” Alex Kendrick said of his decision to opt for a black cast. He says when executives from their distributor (Sony’s Affirm Films) viewed it for the first time, they responded, “If this had been told with a different race, it would be a different movie.”