The gripping documentary from Franklin Graham and Samaritan's Purse took home Best Feature Documentary Premiere Award at the 2016 Heartland Film Festival.
The film festival celebrated its 25th anniversary this year and featured more than 130 independent films out of 250 entrants. With a mission to "inspire filmmakers and audiences through the transformative power of film," Heartland selects films that "inspire and uplift, educate and inform, or have the ability to shift audience's perspectives on the world."
"Facing Darkness" features interviews with those who personally fought the Ebola outbreak in Liberia and the inspirational story of their journey to health.
"A powerful documentary, 'Facing Darkness' is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the power of conviction and hope in the face of despair," said Greg Sorvig, the festival's director of programming and marketing in a statement shared with the Christian Post. "Congratulations to the Samaritan's Purse team on bringing Dr. Kent Brantly's story to screen. Heartland Film Festival audiences have been inspired and transformed."
The film was shot in Liberia and the U.S. where the events took place. The story is set to highlight the lives of heroes who risked their life in an effort to stop one of the deadliest epidemics this century. Ebola infected more than 28,000 people in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, and 11,000 lives succumbed to the disease.
"Samaritan's Purse workers were holding the last line of defense in a crisis the world was largely ignoring," Graham, president and CEO of the relief organization, maintained in a statement. "Hundreds were dying and it was only growing worse. When the disease struck Dr. Kent Brantly and hygienist Nancy Writebol, we knew we had to get them home for treatment. It was their only chance, yet it was something no one had ever done."
The Ebola outbreak first surfaced in March 2014, and by June it was all over the news as a raging epidemic. At the time, missionaries Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol went out to ELWA Hospital in Monrovia, Liberia, to fight the surge of the killer virus and wound up catching the disease themselves.
Once news of the missionaries' infection hit, the team at Samaritan's Purse worked around the clock toward returning Brantly and Writebol back to the United States, which was their only hope to survive the epidemic. It was something that had never been done before but both of the Ebola patients were evacuated to the U.S. for treatment and were cured.
"Facing Darkness" will feature the amazing true story of Brantly and Writebol's evacuation, treatment and eventual cure side-by-side with an inspiring story of faith and overcoming fear.
"Faith is not something that makes you safe," Brantly is quoted as saying when describing his decision to stay in the country and fight the disease. "You had to face death in the eye and decide, 'Who am I going to be today?'"
The missionaries faced other challenges while in Liberia. Complicating the situation was years of civil war, which made the people of Liberia have very little trust for anyone in authority and went so far as to blame the aid workers for spreading the disease. Hospitals and people were attacked. Yet the Samaritan's Purse team continued to serve.
"I think when there's a crisis, God wants us to be there," Graham added when talking of the organization's commitment to stay in Liberia. "He doesn't want us to run away. God has put us there for a reason, and he expects us to do something about it."
Liberia is now declared Ebola free because a shift in culture that helped stop the spread of the disease, thanks to Samaritan's Purse who was behind the massive public health education program that reached 1.5 million people.
"Facing Darkness" will not only tell the story of saving Brantly and Writebol, it will reportedly show what happens when people choose compassion over fear in service to others.
The Arthur Rasco film will premiere in select U.S. movie theaters for one night through Fathom Events on March 30, 2017. "Facing Darkness" has also received an Award of Excellence from the Accolade Global Film Competition.
For more information visit FacingDarknessMovie.com