At the core of the message in the feature film “Little Boy,” opening nationwide on Friday, April 24, are the Corporal Works of Mercy, called “the Ancient List” in the film. Jakob Salvati stars as a 7-year-old California boy during World War II who takes on the list — armed with “faith the size of a mustard seed” — in the hopes of moving mountains and working a miracle to bring his POW father (Michael Rapaport) back home.
On the movie’s list:
- Feed the Hungry
- Shelter the Homeless
- Visit Those in Prison
- Clothe the Naked
- Visit the Sick
- Befriend Your Enemy
- Bury the Dead
Promotion materials for “Little Boy” — which, although it has Catholic themes and characters, is intended for a broad audience — call them “Acts of Kindness,” and apparently some folks are acting in service of that idea.
Today (Thursday, April 23), “Little Boy” is taking over entire multiplexes in 20 cities, as individuals and organizations benefiting schools, youth programs, military families, churches, etc., buy all the tickets for groups of theaters, and then distribute them to members and supporters.
Among those sponsoring buyouts are the American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO); Big Brothers, Big Sisters; author Ken Blanchard, on behalf of military families at Camp Pendleton, California; and former Kansas City Royals player Mike Sweeney, who’s providing 1,000 tickets to Navy families, through the military YMCA.
According to distributor Open Road Films, events are also being held to assist refugees fleeing ISIS in Iraq, in Honolulu, Hawaii; Aspen, Colorado; New York City; and Green Bay, Wisconsin.
The Templeton Foundation has also partnered with UCLA’s Action Lab to build an app (actionlab.org/littleboy) to encourage the Acts of Kindness.
Executive producer Eduardo Verastegui of Metanoia Films (“Bella”) left behind a successful but very secular entertainment-industry career in Mexico to one that honors his reawakened Catholic values. He’s hoping that “Little Boy” — in which he has a small part, playing a priest, proves that being true to the Faith can also breed success.
In an interview in mid-March, he said:
A lot of people say I have to compromise. I don’t have to. They say it’s OK to compromise when you need to pay your bills, but then somehow you can lose
yourself. You can get lost in the whole thing. I love what Mother Teresa said, that we are not born to be successful, we are born to be faithful to our principles, to our values. That is our success.
If by being faithful to your values and principles, success comes, it’s a blessing. Let’s use that success as a platform to do something good and to make a difference. But, don’t compromise just because you want to obtain success, because that success doesn’t come from a good place.
I was trying to achieve that success before, and you start compromising a little bit here and a little bit there,and the next thing you know, I realized that I had everything I wanted, but I had nothing. I was really empty, and that’s my mirror on how much media sells the whole thing, and how especially young people have a tendency to imitate what they see on television.
That’s when I made a promise, that I know better now, and I realized that I was not assuming the responsibility that I have to assume. I told God that whatever project I was involved with — because whether you like it or not, you affect how people think, how they live, how they behave — I’m only going to be involved in these types of projects. I’m going to produce them, and I know that the price of this promise may be the end of my career, and it’s OK.
As for the “Acts of Kindness”:
We’re going to travel around the country with this message, that I believe will have a visible healing power. We’re doing the “Little Boy” challenge, and young people have a chance to imitate what they see, to imitate the “Little Boy” list. They do the list, and the list is a very universal message.
It’s trying to inspire kids to raise their hands, just like Little Boy raised his hand, and he moved that mountain. In a symbolic way, we all have mountains in front of us we need to move.
At a junket for the movie in Beverly Hills, California, Salvati, now 11, was asked what his message is for kids watching the film. He said:
Nothing is impossible.
So far, reviews of the movie from mainstream critics have not been positive, but tomorrow, the moviegoing public gets to vote. Click here for more information on the movie, and here to see where it’s showing in your area.
Here’s Verastegui offering a copy of “Little Boy” to Pope Francis (who hasn’t yet released his official review):
— Eduardo Verastegui (@EVerastegui) April 21, 2015
Images: Courtesy Metanoia/Open Road Films; Kate O’Hare; Twitter