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Franklin County story of forgiveness to hit theaters Thursday
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Franklin County story of forgiveness to hit theaters Thursday

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After being delayed five times due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a local story will make its debut on the big screen Thursday.

“My Brothers’ Crossing” will be released nationwide on more than 600 screens Sept. 3, according to J.T. Clark, who co-authored the book, “In The Blink of an Eye: Forgiveness in Black and White.” The film was inspired by Clark’s wife, Terri Lee.

More than just a book, Clark actually lived the through the events portrayed in the film, which tells the story of the events that unfolded from August through October 2015 surrounding the death of Clark’s brother and sister-in-law, Bobby and Pam Clark. The couple were on their way home from a worship service at T.R.A.S.H. (Totally Redeemed Anointed Servants of the Most High) Ministries in Collinsville. C.J. Martin and his son were at a football game at Bassett High School. Both the Martins and the Clarks had to maneuver around a detour on T.B. Stanley Highway when the crash occurred.

Martin, driving a pickup truck, did not realize he was in the wrong lane and had only driven a few feet when he saw the Clarks approaching from the opposite direction in the same lane on a motorcycle. Bobby Clark saw the truck and cut the motorcycle too hard, which threw the couple off. They did not survive the incident.

In October, when Martin was due in court to face charges of reckless driving, J.T. Clark went before the judge and said he would pay Martin’s fine. The judge lowered the charge to improper driving and set the fine at $5. A story of forgiveness and brotherhood was born as the two became friends and now minister together with T.R.A.S.H.

Clark published a book in 2018 written from his point of view of all that occurred beginning with the automobile crash.

“The film is true to life,” Clark said. “When they wrote the screenplay, they interviewed people who were intimately involved in the story and incorporated their perspectives into it — which is different from the book. When I wrote the book, I wrote it from my point of view and I didn’t interview anybody.”

“My Brothers’ Crossing” will be shown at Westlake Cinema at Westlake Towne Center. The movie theater will reopen its doors Thursday with show times for the movie at 1 p.m., 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. through Monday. Run times for Tuesday through Thursday will be 4 p.m. and 7 p.m., according to cinema manager Thomas Althoff.

“We are always happy to show things related to the community,” Althoff said. “We are an independent theater and very linked to the community, who has supported us in the down times so we are excited to be able to bring this story to the area.”

Althoff added seating will be limited to half capacity.

Clark said the film also will be shown in Roanoke at Valley View, as well as theaters in Henry County, Salem and Christiansburg.

“We are encouraging everyone to check their local listings as some theaters have not yet reopened,” Clark said.

A premiere was in the works before the movie’s April release; however, the pandemic put the brakes on those plans. Clark said the nationwide release will be without a red carpet event or a local celebration. He added that he has been contacted by a number of churches and organizations who have asked him to appear at showings/events.

“We’ve had tremendous support from people sharing it on social media, and sharing with their friends,” Clark said. “Our marketing budget isn’t a major studio release budget, so word of mouth is important.”

The trailer has been running for two weeks on cable stations such as Fox News, CNN, Hallmark, Lifetime, TBS, TBN and others.

Clark said he was disappointed when the premiere scheduled for Easter weekend was moved due to COVID.

“What better way to have a movie like this release than at Easter weekend then to have circumstances in our nation unfold and to realize that this movie is one of forgiveness and reconciliation, it’s one of healing and of unity, and our hope is that it will touch people, lead to conversations, healing and point people to Christ,” Clark said. “We’ve always said this is God’s story, and it’s his timing of when it’s going to go.”

The movie is contracted to run nationally for four weeks, he said. Larger areas where theaters are not open, such as New York and California, will run it when theaters reopen. There are plans for it to be available through a streaming service and then on DVD., but Clark had no details on when that might happen.

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