The Kendrick Brothers, who are well-known for creating influential, spiritually uplifting and award-winning films like War Room and Fireproof, are preparing to release their first documentary called Show Me the Father. In it, the brothers share five powerful stories about earthly fathers and how God is the Perfect Father.
Recently, The Daily Citizen had the opportunity to interview Alex Kendrick about how Show Me the Father will encourage and engage men of all ages on the importance of fatherhood.
“We were finishing Overcomer, which was one of our most recent feature films, and two things happened,” Kendrick explained. “We realized that we were coming up on the 10th anniversary of Courageous, which is on fatherhood. And so, we thought, ‘Man, it’d be great to revisit that movie for a whole generation of fathers that did not have kids 10 years ago.’”
Courageous, originally released in 2011, focuses on a group of law enforcement officers who “face a challenge that none of them are truly prepared to tackle: fatherhood. While they consistently give their best on the job, good enough seems to be all they can muster as dads. When tragedy hits home, they are left wrestling with their hopes, their fears, their faith, and their fathering. Can a newfound urgency help these dads draw closer to God … and to their children?”
Kendrick explained, “We began realizing that there are really powerful stories out there of fatherhood, so my brother Stephen said, ‘What if we do a documentary, and we tell some powerful stories about fatherhood.’”
And they did. Show Me the Father, which lasts about 90 minutes, shares five various stories that really encompass what most people experience from their earthly fathers. They range from a man who was a loving and attentive father, a dad who was never there for his children, one who was present but not active in his children’s lives and another father who hurt his children deeply.
“How do you move on from that, how do you grow and heal?” Kendrick asked. It’s a question that the documentary attempts to answers, and there were a couple of twists that the filmmakers did not expect.
“There are two times in the pre-screenings where the audiences let out audible gasps,” Kendrick explained. “There’s tears, there’s a lot of laughter and we’ve had people say, ‘Thank you for this film. I actually view my dad differently. I view God, as our Heavenly Father, differently.’ So, we love the response we’re getting, and we can’t wait to see the reaction when it hits theatres.”
But making a documentary is very different than a feature film. Unlike a regular Hollywood production, where pretty much every aspect of the film is scripted, a documentary is a much more organic experience when it comes to film making, since the interviews often drive the storytelling.
Kendrick explained, “Some of it was so moving and powerful. Once we put it together, I was astounded at how much emotion, how much laughter and how much it moved me, being our first documentary. I was thinking initially, it’s not going to be like a feature film, but honestly, it moved me as much as any of our feature films. A lot of it is discovery, as you’re putting together, but I really enjoyed it. It was a better process and better result than I expected.”
Much of that can probably be attributed to the powerful subject of the project. Fathers play an incredibly powerful and influential role in our lives, often reflecting our Heavenly one. The Kendrick Brothers are no exception.
“My father had to overcome a lot to be a good dad, because his father, which is my grandfather, was not a good man for most of his life,” Alex shared. “He ended up getting some things right with God and his family later in life, but most of his early years, my grandfather was an alcoholic, he was angry, and he was unfaithful. Some things he brought into the home were terrible.”
It’s a story that unfortunately too many can relate to.
Kendrick continued, “When my dad was in his early 20s, he never felt loved or appreciated, but he had a kind of come-to-Jesus moment where he asked God, ‘I don’t want to repeat this. I don’t want to do this for my family. I don’t want all this pain and suffering for my family, will you help me be the kind of dad that you want me to be.’ So, my dad made some changes, no alcohol, no pornography, and no unfaithfulness. As a dad, he was going to be much better than his own father.
“The time that we spent together was the most nurturing time. He nurtured our creativity—he nurtured our walk with God, and he inspired us. He said, ‘You can do whatever God calls you to do because He’s going to help you do it. God’s not going to call you to something and not help you.’ And so, when we said we wanted to make movies, our dad prayed over us and blessed us to go and do that.”
In many ways, our earthly fathers impact our interpretation of our Heavenly one. If your earthly father is rather distant, you believe that God is distant and unengaged—but if your earthly father is loving, you’re more likely to believe that God is loving.
“Our first concept of father comes from our dads, and so we have to differentiate between the perfect attributes of a Heavenly Father, who is loving, merciful, patient, kind and forgiving,” Kendrick explained.
“When they leave the theatre, I hope that they don’t just view God as a Creator, but they also view Him as a Father who wants an intimate relationship with us and the Father who can fill those voids that we may have felt were empty growing up.”
Kendrick continued, “Secondly, even if you had a poor father, we walk through how to receive a blessing from God that you may not have gotten from your dad and how to heal from those wounds that you may have had growing up.
“And dads that are good dads are going to leave with more ammunition to be an even better dad.”
And that’s the hope of this film. Fathers have such an influence on their children, perhaps more than they ever know, but no earthly father is perfect. Sometimes, there is healing that needs to happen because of a difficult or strained fatherly relationship. The Kendrick Brothers hope that this documentary can be a springboard for men to become better fathers, and for every audience member to discover, maybe for the first time, their perfect Heavenly Father.
“You know everybody wants to hear from their dad, ‘I love you,’ ‘I’m grateful for you,’ ‘You’re my child I’m proud of you,’ and most people don’t hear that. That’s why these movies are so important,” Kendrick said.
“To show a visual picture and tell these true stories of how people overcame either not having a dad, having a bad father or a painful experience. How you can heal from that and how can we bring you hope. That’s what this movie is. You’re not going to leave the theater the same way you walked in.”
Show Me the Father, which features Focus on the Family president Jim Daly, will be released on September 10, 2021. Courageous will be re-released and remastered with some additional footage on October 15, 2021.
Picture from Show Me the Father website.