ENTERTAINMENT TODAY – Feature Story
by Sean Halloran
In an era of the ever slicker motion picture, [Maria and] Gabrielle Burton’s Manna From Heaven is a throwback to Hollywood’s simpler days “wholesome and mannered,” it’s a noteworthy change from most of the sexually charged, psychopathically violent and technology-driven films of today.
Manna From Heaven tells the comic story of a struggling family in Buffalo, New York that receives money from God and, decades later, must pay it back. After they received the loan all of the family members’ lives traveled in different directions, ranging from nun to conman, and the heart of this film rests on how these very different people become a family again.
Honestly though, who really needs to go out and pay to see a low-budget, heart-warming film at the theater when you can watch the Family Channel or a PBS special at home for free? The answer is plenty of people.
“So many people complain that there aren’t movies for them to go and see, and there is an entire untapped audience simply waiting to be served by a movie like this,” said Maria Burton. “The whole model for most films now center on having a young hip cast that will bring in the teenagers and people who aren’t seeing themselves represented in these movies are staying home.”
After 10 weeks in theaters throughout the Los Angeles area Manna From Heaven is still playing, an almost unprecedented feat for an independent film with only grassroots distribution and publicity. In the vein of My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Manna From Heaven is trying to make it at the box office solely on its own laurels and by word-of-mouth support.
The great strengths of this film are its believable characters, age diverse cast and simple goodness. Oscar winner Cloris Leachman delivers a hilarious performance as Grandma Helen and Wendie Malick, who played Nina Van Horn on the just-wrapped television show Just Shoot Me, also has a very funny role as a no-nonsense poker player and croupier… All in all the film works at reaching its target audience and many people applauded at the film’s end.
” It was a terrific movie. I loved the actors, the suspense and that it really made you think,” said Frank Schaffer, a 67-year-old retiree from Glendale. “I haven’t been to the movies in years, but I heard about the film from a friend of mine and now I hope other people come and see it.”
Manna From Heaven is still playing at the Pasadena Academy 6 Theater.
For more information, visit www.mannathemovie.com and www.fivesistersproductions.com.