New film about writer Flannery O’Connor shows ‘God can deliver his grace in any way’ — By: Catholic News Agency

Maya Hawke as American writer Flannery O’Connor in the 2024 film “Wildcat.” / Credit: Oscilloscope Laboratories

CNA Staff, Apr 12, 2024 / 06:00 am (CNA).

A new film depicting the life of American writer Flannery O’Connor, whose work reflected her Catholic faith and frequently examined questions of faith, morality, and suffering, will be released in theaters on May 3. 

The movie follows O’Connor as she struggles with a lupus diagnosis at age 24, the same disease that took her father’s life, and dives into an exploration of beliefs. Actress Maya Hawke portrays O’Connor, and her father, Ethan Hawke, directed, co-wrote, and produced the film.

The inspiration for the movie came from Maya Hawke, who created a monologue from entries in O’Connor’s “Prayer Journal” for an audition for Juilliard, to which she was accepted. After performing her monologue for her family, they were blown away. She said that ever since, she’s had a personal connection with O’Connor and eventually asked her father to help her make the movie.

Executive producer Eric Groth, a Catholic and the CEO of Renovo Media Group and president of ODB Films, told CNA in an interview that he was drawn to the movie because “we [his company] really love to bring beautiful, good, and true stories front and center and that certainly focus on things of a Catholic nature.”

“I hadn’t read a lot of Flannery, I had read a little bit, but I was very intrigued by her and who she was and how important she was in the 20th century as an author,” he added. “And I was very fascinated by the fact that there hadn’t been a lot of things produced about her or her stories.”

However, what attracted him the most to the film was the “family element.” 

“I love that Ethan and Maya were doing something as a father and daughter and even Ethan’s wife, Ryan, was one of our lead producers and all of Ethan’s other kids found their way into the film as well,” Groth said.

Groth pointed out that he believes this story is important to tell today because “the culture can really learn from her.”

“I think she had a really great ability to converge all her faith with what she was living out in her day,” he explained.

The producer shared that in his eyes, O’Connor “kind of flips grace on its head. We kind of put God in a box and think if God is going to deliver grace it’s going to come through this really nice channel … I think Flannery says, ‘Look, God can deliver his grace in any way, any time, any fashion.’”

He continued: “People need to know that God is there, God is present, and we can look and see that God’s grace comes from all different things.”

Groth hopes that viewers will “walk away with a tremendous appreciation” for the 20th-century Gothic-style writer.

“She saw the messiness of the world, and that messiness — God is in the midst of it, that God enters into it and that our lives are messy,” he said. “I want people to walk away seeing somebody who saw that and understood it. I want them to walk away seeing a young woman who suffered terribly from a disease that ultimately took her life, but that she pressed on.”

He added that he hopes the audience will see that “we’re called to seek that relationship with God and it’s going to be difficult at times, but also that we can be victorious and that we can look to see how God’s going to deliver grace to us in all kinds of ways.”

Watch the trailer for “Wildcat” below.

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