September 24, 2021 | Mayaguez, Puerto Rico | PURU Communication and Inter-American Division News

The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Puerto Rico recently showed its first major evangelistic film at four of the largest drive-in theaters across the island. The film, called “Spin”, is about a teenage girl who has problems at home, joins a table tennis club, learns to play the sport, meets someone who helps her find meaning in her life, and ends up playing at a national competition. More than 300 cars crowded the Hiram Bithorn Stadium parking lot in San Juan, the capital city, where more 1,000 people viewed the premiere of Spin on Aug. 21, 2021.

Spin, a film about a teenager who learns to play table tennis and finds meaning in her life, is the first major film showcased by the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Puerto Rico throughout drive-in theaters on the island. [Image: Puerto Rican Union]

The film took the island by storm after radio, television, print and social media announced its showtimes, church leaders said.

“This project allowed us to enter a new dimension in communication,” said Pastor Luis Rivera, president of the church in Puerto Rico. “The church has already done a good job with radio and television throughout so this is the first time the church gets into the world of films, and we want to do so with a firm step, led by the Lord so that it can reach all types of demographics that we are not able to reach through radio, television and churches.”

Filmed entirely in Puerto Rico, Spin falls under the category of drama/sports and carries a message of hope for persons who are going through difficult situations, touches on friendship, faith and overcoming hardships. The film, which clocks in at just under two hours, focuses on three main areas that are key in table tennis as well as life: believe, focus and play.

Hundreds of cars are parked at the Hiram Bithorn Stadium Drive-in on the first Spin’s showcase in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Aug. 21, 2021. The drew a historic 300 cars into the outdoor theater for the church’s first major film with a message of hope [Photo: Puerto Rican Union]

“We are using the feature-length film to draw the attention to a world that is used to this medium and we have great expectations that it will continue touching so many lives,” said Pastor David Sebastian, communication director for the church in Puerto Rico. More than 1,300 watched the four showings last month. The film is striking a chord with so many young people and the young at heart who are dealing with so many challenges and struggles, he said.

The church decided to fund the film project after writer and director José Oscar Sánchez and producer Jonathan López presented it to leaders in 2018. Production was completed through Clay Cup Pictures in association with Torre Alta Films in August of 2019. The film was scheduled to be released by Easter Week in 2020 but because of the pandemic, the release had to be postponed, said López.

Upon hearing of the film project, leaders at Hope Channel Inter-America and the Adventist World Church’s communication department also assisted with funding the film.

L-R: Jonathan López, producer of Spin, Coralis Mena, main character, Pastor David Sebastian, communication director for the church in Puerto Rico, and José Oscar Sánchez, writer and director of Spin, pose for a photo during one of the launches of the film, in Puerto Rico, Aug. 2021. [Photo: Puerto Rican Union]

Abel Márquez, communication director for the church in Inter-America and executive director of Hope Channel Inter-America, said the film is an excellent initiative of convergence. “This project involved laypersons, organizations and institutions which collaborated together with a common purpose to give a positive message through a medium that we have not explored very much,” said Márquez.  Spin is an example of what the church and its media production centers can do when they work collaboratively. “Having the vision to identify such [film] projects, support them and collaborate among organizations can bring lasting effects in the lives of people,” Marquez said. The film is scheduled to be featured on the Hope Channel Inter-America at the end of October, he said.

In addition, Spin is being forwarded to the General Conference to be dubbed into different languages, said Sebastian. “This is a great advancement, to be able use cinematography to reach where people are and in different languages,” Sebastian said.

Cars begin to line up at the Juan Aubin Cruz Stadium Drive-in theater to watch the film Spin in Manatí on the northern coast of Puerto Rico, on Aug. 28, 2021.[Photo: Puerto Rican Union

Spin will be shown across the eastern part of Puerto Rico and the neighboring island of Vieques in the coming weeks.

To find out more about the Spin film project and resources, visit adventistas.pr

David Sebastian contributed to this report.

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