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Faith & Family News: 'Jesus Thirsts,' 'Wildcat,' Shroud of Turin

April 25, 2024 | By

In this month's faith & family news, a new film extols the virtues and wonder of the Eucharist; the father-daughter team of Ethan and Maya Hawke brings Flannery O'Connor to the screen; and new Catholic Rob Schneider explores the Shroud of Turin.

Jesus Thirsts: The Miracle of the Eucharist

Hitting theaters as a Fathom Event on June 4, 5 and 6, Jesus Thirsts is a feature documentary from executive producer Deacon Steve Greco, and producers James Wahlberg (brother of Mark and Donnie) and writer/director Tim Moriarty (Mother Teresa: No Greater Love), with co-sponsorship from the Diocese of Orange (California).

The film is being released during the national Eucharistic Revival movement being held throughout the Catholic Church in the U.S. All three days feature two showings, at 4 and 7 p.m. (local time), and the showing on the 6th is in Spanish.

The feature presentation also include a bonus film, Our Lady of Guadalupe: Woman of the Eucharist, produced by the Knights of Columbus.

From the press release:

With scenes captured across the United States and in countries including Poland, Italy, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Uganda, Canada, and Slovenia, Jesus Thirsts is a poignant exploration of the Eucharist, revered as the source and summit of Christian life. The film is a celebration of the Eucharist as God’s paramount gift to humanity, uniquely able to satisfy the deepest yearnings of the human heart.

Interviewees include Dr. Scott Hahn, FOCUS Catholic founder Curtis Martin, Father Robert Spitzer S.J., filmmaker Eduardo Verastegui (Bella, Sound of Freedom, Cabrini), Father Donald Calloway M.I.C., and evangelist Chris Stefanik.

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The Wildcat Inside Flannery O'Connor

In select theaters on May 3 (though some theaters have screening times the evening of May 2), Wildcat brings the complex, contradictory and very Catholic life of American writer Flannery O'Connor to the screen.

Written (with Shelby Gaines) and directed by Ethan Hawke (Training Day, Boyhood, First Reformed), the film stars Hawke's daughter (with Uma Thurman) Maya Hawke -- who's also an executive producer -- as the Southern Gothic author, whose short stories and novels have enchanted, and disturbed, readers of many faiths (or none).

Neither of the Hawkes is Catholic, but executive producer Eric Groth is. The film's title comes from one of O'Connor's early short stories.


In 1950, Flannery visits her mother Regina (Laura Linney) in Georgia when she is diagnosed with lupus at 24 years old. Struggling with the same disease that took her father’s life when she was a child and desperate to make her mark as a writer, this crisis pitches her imagination into a feverish exploration of belief. As she dives deeper into her craft, the lines between reality, imagination, and faith begin to blur, allowing Flannery to ultimately come to peace with her situation and heal a strained relationship with her mother.

Many of the reviews have been good, including this one from the Hollywood Reporter:

Sometimes when you finish reading a good novel or collection of short stories, you look forward to picking it up again it in a year or two or 20, to reenter its world and discover new wisdom in its powers of observation, new flashes of light in its turns of phrase.

Ethan Hawke’s Wildcat casts a similar spell, so rich is it in detail and nuance and creative juice. Drawing upon the distinctive voice of Flannery O’Connor, it’s a sublime portrait of a great writer, a movie I can’t wait to see again for its visual elegance, its electric leaps between an author’s life and her work, and the delicious, playful intensity of all the performances, with Maya Hawke and Laura Linney each taking on a half-dozen interconnected roles.

But the reaction has been not universally favorable, as seen here from IndieWire:

 “Wildcat” is too tame in its portrayal of suffering to let its Catholic undertones sing or take powerful cinematic form, resulting in a work where paradoxes are half-baked dilemmas that seem too conveniently solved, and life itself is something that happens far off-screen.  

As for a Catholic view of the film, here's the Jesuit America Magazine:

“Wildcat” is a film that delivers much more than a factual account of O’Connor’s life. It offers us an encounter with a powerful imagination, one that leaves the viewer with a vivid impression of who Flannery O’Connor was, with all of her flaws and inconsistencies, her mighty strivings, and her human failures. The film itself is a work of imagination. As with good fiction, it takes liberties with the facts in order to arrive at a higher truth. Biographers do not have the luxury of doing that, but filmmakers do.

Tickets at various sites; click here for Fandango.

Take a look:


Schneider and the Shroud

Last Oct. 31, actor and comedian Rob Schneider made headlines by converting to Catholicism -- but it was something that was always in his background.
From a bio of the former Saturday Night Live cast member:
Born in San Francisco, Schneider’s family is of Filipino and Caucasian descent. His father was Jewish and his mother Catholic. His mixed background has been a common theme in his comedy acts.

From The National Catholic Register::

For years, Rob Schneider had drifted away from the practice of religion, but it was his own failure, he said, and was not a matter of God’s turning away from him. “I don’t think Jesus ever left me,” he said. “I was the one who strayed; but it [faith and God] was always there, in the back of my mind.”

In a recent interview with ChurchPop, Schneider revealed that he's been working for the last five years on readying a film on the Shroud of Turin, believed by many to be the burial cloth of Christ.
Schneider then explains that the premise of the movie, which he hopes to begin filming in 2024, is about shroud expert Joe Marino and his wife, "who basically proved scientists tested the cloth in the wrong place." ,,,
The actor also explains that the process of making and researching for the film impacted his decision to become Catholic. He began working on the film "as an entertainment piece,' but it turned into a "broadening" of his faith.
"It became the broadening of my faith and it became a powerful thing that kind of – I don't know how else to say it – but it was breathed into me, and then it from there, it was really the beginning."
Here's a video version of the interview:


As for the Shroud itself, here's some history from EWTN:


Image: Jesus Thirsts: The Miracle of the Eucharist/Fathom Events

Kate O’Hare, a longtime entertainment journalist, is Social Media Content Manager at Family Theater Productions.

Keep up with Family Theater Productions on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

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