PHILADELPIA -- The culture of death has been winning at the box office for decades, but that is changing. Two of the speakers at next week’s Pro-Life International Symposium at the World Meeting of Families are in the vanguard of a growing movement working to spread a pro-life message on the silver screen.
Eduardo Verastegui, producer of 2007’s Bella and this year’s Little Boy, and Kathy DiFiore, whose work to help homeless pregnant women was the inspiration for 2013’s Gimme Shelter, will be among the dynamic pro-life leaders who will headline the free event at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 23 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia.
Verastegui , who grew up in northern Mexico, had a successful career that traded on his good looks. He sang in a boy band, acted in a Spanish-language soap opera and performed in a steamy Jennifer Lopez music video. But when a young woman he hired to help him improve his English began speaking to him about God and the road he was traveling, he had a change of heart.
“I realized I was using my talent in a very selfish way,” Verastegui told Christian Broadcasting Network in a 2007 interview. “In my opinion, I was poisoning our society with the projects I was involved with. “
He made a decision to accept only roles that elevated human dignity, and went four years without a job. Finally, he and some friends founded a film production company called Metanoia that produced the overtly pro-life Bella, winner of the Toronto International Film Festival’s “People’s Choice” award, and the pro-family Little Boy, which critics panned for its religious overtones but audiences loved. Verastegui also acted in both films.
Ms. DiFiore didn’t have Hollywood in mind when she first opened her home to pregnant women in crisis but her success in changing women’s lives and saving their babies at her Several Sources Shelters for more than 30 years attracted the attention of writer and film director Ron Krauss, who told the Houston Chronicle that Gimme Shelter “deals with some of the most life-changing and affirming things we can imagine: A mother and her child.”
At the Pro-Life International Symposium, Ms. DiFiore will announce details of a second film, currently in production, that was inspired by her work.
Father Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life and author of Abolishing Abortion, also will speak at the event, which is an official World Meeting of Families gathering but is also open to the general public.
“The fact that abortion, and alternatives to abortion, are being brought to the big screen is a very positive development that was a long time coming,” Father Pavone said. “So many millions of women have been wounded by choosing abortion and no matter how warmly it is embraced by the entertainment industry, abortion is always the worst possible option. Films like Bella and Gimme Shelter highlight the fact that no matter how dire the circumstances seem, there is always a better choice.
“Families attending the World Meeting will be uplifted by Eduardo’s message and Kathy’s work. I hope everyone will make time for this vital symposium.”
For more information about the speakers and the event, go to www.ProLifeWorldEvent.com