The Lost and Found Family (rated PG) is a heart-tugging and inspirational family drama starring: Lucas Till (Hannah Montana: The Movie and Walk the Line), Ellen Bry (TV’s St. Elsewhere) and Jessica Luza (Downpour) which will debut on DVD on September 15, 2009.
The story opens and we are introduced to Esther Hobbes (Ellen Bry) who lives a high society life until the sudden death of her husband. Esther loses her grip on her comfortable lifestyle when it’s suddenly stolen away with her husband. She is flabbergasted to discover that she had been living a façade all along. Due to her husband’s bad investments her only inheritance is a rural Georgia house which had seen better days. Esther realizes that her only option for survival is to evict the tenants, sell the house and secure a suitable place to live.
As the story unfolds Esther makes her way down to the southern town clad in her big city clothes and flashy jewelry to take necessary measures to get on with her life. She meets the family consisting of foster parents, rebellious teenagers, played by Lucas Till and Jessica Luza, and three younger children with their own set of issues. Once a seemingly composed and adept woman, Esther wrestles with conflicting perspectives and feels as an orphan herself. Tension swells between the characters facing the fact that the unwanted stranger suddenly showing up may take their home and the only semblance of family stability they’ve struggled to establish.
As Esther is thrust into a dingy room with not much more than a twin bed and a dresser, she starts to shed some of her jewelry, begin to soften up and go through a metamorphism of sorts. She lightens her need for material possessions, the Armani power suit is ditched and she begins to slowly embrace a faith she had previously avoided and gradually gives away the little she has left.
I had the distinct pleasure of speaking with Ellen Bry from her California home and got the scoop about her personal experiences in filming and working with the cast and crew. During our interview, Bry joyfully expressed, “I feel like this movie fell from Heaven! On some level I feel I was destined to play the role.”
Bry wasn’t seeking this film but it found her. She was scouted out among several dozens of actresses for the part of Esther. Bry says she is not exactly like her character Esther but that she is similar in some respects. She said Esther is “sweet but no push over, nobody’s fool.”
Bry found the Jackson, Georgia set “an amazing place to film this movie,” Bry surmised that “Esther was a fish out of water and so was Ellen.” It was an actual culture shock for urban Bry. But the townspeople embraced the cast and crew with excitement in ways Bry said “that you just don’t get in the urban, sophisticated and jaded communities that I typically film. They showered us with love – they rolled out the welcome mats. It was so uplifting.”
The townspeople invited the cast and crew to their restaurants and shops. “It was kind of magical,” Bry said. She explained that the producer didn’t need permits for filming since the town was so willing to help, volunteering their stores; honored to have their restaurants and homes in the movie. The Lost and Found Family helped to create civic pride because it was “one of the biggest things that happened to Jackson, Georgia in a long time,” Bry explained
Most of the story took place in “a real house one step away from being condemned, so it was perfect for the film” Bry explained. “It smelled a little funky and you didn’t want to walk around in your bare feet,” she added. The house was scheduled for demolition after the completion of filming. Another possibility was to remodel it and turn it into a restaurant called, “Mrs. Hobbe’s House” if it wasn’t demolished.
Bry enjoyed working with a cast and crew. She liked the fact that “there were no divas, struggles, or people pulling rank. Everyone was happy to show up and work.” She said the children were “all quite different and just wonderful.” She said the positive attitudes of all brought “good energy to the set.”
Bry sees this film as inspirational on many levels but claims it’s “not preachy and will appeal to a general audience.” She hopes that the movie will “raise awareness to the special plight of foster kids.”
The movie is entertaining and engaging both for the spiritually oriented and those merely seeking a wholesome and enjoyable family movie experience. Faith-based nuances are woven throughout which will undoubtedly be recognized by Christian audiences. I hope this film won’t be pigeon-holed as strictly Christian since the messages supporting family values, as well as the virtues of faith, hope and love so desperately needed in our world today emerge vividly and can appropriately reach a broader audience. The Lost and Found Family also exemplifies the need for foster care and enlightens us to the depth of compassion and selflessness identified by foster parents giving their lives and homes, welcoming strangers into their families.
Visit the Lost and Found Family website to see a movie trailer and to learn more: http://www.lostandfoundfamilymovie.com/