Dennis Quaid and AnnaSophia Robb

*Don’t call “Soul Surfer” a faith based film says its star, Dennis Quaid, who is cognizant of a country that is increasingly turning away from its Christian base.

“I mean that’s what got them through this,” Quaid explained.  “That’s why Bethany Hamilton is alive today, because of her faith. It’s a true story so why not share the truth. I mean there was a lot of back and forth and hesitancy about this being a faith based movie, which is really a code for mentioning the name of Jesus more than twice, you know. Jesus is a five letter.”

“The marketing people were concerned about, you know, how can we reach the broadest audience but in the end Sony made the right decision and because you can’t really tell the story of this family and what they went through and separate their faith from it because they live it and walk it and talk it. It was there before the accident, during and after too. When my twelve day old twins received the wrong medication, I do believe it was prayer that got them through it and why they are alive today.”

Quaid was sitting on the couch with his one-year-old twins a few days before Christmas watching the Today show when he saw Bethany telling her terrifying story and his eyes “welled up” with tears. As faith-no pun intended-would have it, he received a call from his agent a few days later.

“`I know everybody is on vacation but I’m getting calls from these people telling me they want you to play Bethany Hamilton’s father; are you aware of her?'” Quad recounts. “I think it’s the only time I’ve ever said yes to anything without even reading a script because it’s such a powerful story,” he affirmed.

In addition, Quaid also told me that who could turn down such a motivating story?

“I think people love to feel things when they go to the movies. Either that, or they really like to have a couple of big belly laughs and movies are to entertain. I don’t think they’re necessarily to teach but this is something that is very life affirming and I think we all want to be a part of it. Not to mention that it was two months in Hawaii and we’re getting paid to be on a beach,” he laughed.

AnnaSophia Robb, who plays Hamilton, says the whole Hamilton family was involved in the project from day one.

“The authenticity in the film makes this story even closer to my heart, that we can actually share a true story that they’re proud of is inspiring,” she says. “Bethany did all of that and is still doing.” Hamilton, who lost her arm in a shark attack, overcame all odds to become a champion again. Lorraine Nicholson, who portrays Bethany’s best friend, added that “Bethany’s story shows us all what we’re capable of and I think everybody can sort of learn from that.”

“Henry’s Crime” stars Keanu Reeves, Vera Farmiga, James Caan and Bill Duke, whom we have not seen on the big screen for some time. Writer/Director/Producer Duke served as the Time Warner Endowed Chair in the Department of Radio Television and Film at Howard University in Washington, DC for three years. He was appointed to the National Endowment of the Humanities by former president Bill Clinton and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed Duke to the California State Film Commission Board. He also serves on the Board of Trustees at the American Film Institute. Unfortunately, Duke was not at the press conference.

The film is about many things, but the title sets the stage. “Henry’s Crime” is a heist film, love story and those seeking and answering their inner voices. Henry is convicted of a crime he didn’t commit and goes to jail. After he is released from prison, he makes plans to rob the bank he was accused of robbing. The Film Strip asked Reeves is Henry’s crime of passion was a sort of homage to all those behind bars or who served time for crimes they didn’t commit?

“Absolutely, yeah!” Reeves responded. “Also, as Jimmy [James Caan], was saying we’re all imprisoned in some way. Hopefully this film is inspirational and gives you a little lift.”

Still high off the energy of interacting with the filmmakers and cast, Caan had some words of wisdom that I also observed over the years.

“The one thing in my career that I’ve come to realize is that the most talented people I’ve ever worked with are invariable the nicest, always. And it’s the people who really haven’t got that much to give are pains in the asses who have this sort of deflecting kind behavior. They talk about their hair, their makeup, their trailers and stuff like that, you know. It’s a diversionary tactic because they really have nothing to offer.”