Grace Unplugged is the new addition to the UP network's annual movie marathon event, known as "Easter Lives Here." Beginning on Palm Sunday, the network will air a hodge-podge of 14 Easter-themed stories, biblical stories, and faith-based redemption stories between March 20-27. These include the 1965 classic The Greatest Story Ever Told, two of the highly successful Kendrick brothers films (Courageous, Fireproof), and some of the best made-for-TV Easter movies that have been presented in the last few years.
"Every year our celebration of Easter gets bigger and better," said Sophia Karteris Kelley, senior vice president, programming in a recent press release. "We hope that this year's lineup of powerful, inspirational films will bring families together to celebrate this season of joy and renewal."
New this year is the cable television premiere of Grace Unplugged. The father-daughter drama stars AJ Michalka (The Goldbergs, Oliver Beene) as the "perfect" and talented Christian teen worship leader who wants to follow in her father's footsteps and become a rock star despite his rejection of the idea. Though a prodigal child story, it turns out that dad has his faults too. The 2013 film also stars James Denton (Good Witch, Desperate Housewives), Kevin Pollak (Kevin Pollak's Chat Show, Mom) and Shawnee Smith (Anger Management, Becker).
Beginning on Palm Sunday, "Easter Lives Here" includes Mel Gibson's 2004 film, The Passion of Christ (2004) which was nominated for three Oscars and stars Jim Caviezel (The Prisoner, Person of Interest) and Monica Bellucci (The Matrix Reloaded, Spectre). This film will be aired with limited interruption. (If you have seen the film before, you will welcome the interruptions, as the violence in the film is pretty intense, though accurate.)
Many of the films will be presented multiple times throughout the week. Check your local listings for correct dates and times. The remaining movies to be shown during Easter week include the following.
- The Book of Esther (2013)Biblical story of Esther and how she saved her people. Stars Jen Lilley, Thaao Penghlis, Robert Miano and Joel Smallbone.
- Mother of Jesus (1999)TV movie featuring the story of Jesus from birth to death as seen from his mother's eyes. Stars Christian Bale, Pernilla August and Geraldine Chaplin.
- Jesus (1999)TV movie about the life of Jesus. Stars Jeremy Sisto, Debra Messing, Gary Oldman and Jacqueline Bisset.
- Judas (2004)Unusual story about the friendship between Jesus, Judas and the ultimate betrayal. Stars Johnathon Schaech, Jonathan Scarfe ) and Tim Matheson.
- Courageous (2011)Kendrick brothers film about four police officers and their roles as husbands and fathers. Stars Alex Kendrick, Ben Davies, Ken Bevel, Kevin Downes and Robert Amaya.
- Noah's Ark (2015)An UP original movie filmed in Morocco telling the traditional story of Noah and the Ark. Stars David Threlfall and Joanne Whalley.
- The Ten Commandments (2006)Not the Charton Heston classic, but still the same story in the made-for-TV movie. Stars Omar Sharif, Dougray Scott and Paul Rhys.
- The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965)Nominated for five Oscars, George Stevens' epic film chronicles Jesus's life from Christmas to Easter. Stars Max Von Sydow, Dorothy McGuire, Robert Loggia and Charlton Heston.
- Abel's Field (2012)Non-Easter story, but faith-based film about a prodigal son. Stars Kevin Sorbo, Samuel Davis and Richard Dillard.
- Heaven is WaitingA man struggles to let go the memory of the wife he lost to cancer. Stars Curt Doussett, Kirby Heyborne and Brittany Peltier.
- Fireproof (2008)The marriage and near divorce of Caleb and Catherine Holt saved by "The Love Dare" book. Stars Kirk Cameron and Erin Bethea.
- Heart of the Country (2013)Another prodigal son story featuring a wealthy urban female returning home to the country. Stars Jana Kramer, Gerald McRaney and Randy Wayne.