(This photo is of Bethany during the filming of Walking On Water in Indonesia)
Filming has began in Oahu and Kauai, Hawaii on the inspirational life story of teen surfer Bethany Hamilton, a Christian who, at age 13, had her left arm bitten off by a tiger shark in October 2003. Based on Hamilton’s Soul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on the Board (MTV Books), which was sold in some Christian bookstores, the film, also called Soul Surfer, is scheduled to be released in theaters late this summer, according to People magazine. The movie stars AnnaSophia Robb as Bethany; Dennis Quaid as her father, Tom; Helen Hunt as Bethany’s mother, Cheri; and Carrie Underwood as church youth leader Sarah Hill. Bethany, now 19, has become a top-performing pro surfer despite her injuries. Soul Surfer is being marketed by Affirm Films, the faith label of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, which is also marketing Courageous–the follow-up to the surprise hit Fireproof–scheduled to be released in theaters in 2011. Sony Pictures Entertainment and Affirm Films call Soul Surfer Hamilton’s “story of loss, courage and faith in God.” “Bethany’s story exemplifies personal faith, family unity, the guiding influence of a Christian youth-group leader and the trust of a 13-year-old girl who, weeks before the accident, began praying that God would make clear her purpose in life,” said Lovell-Fairchild Communications, the public relations firm that is publicizing Soul Surfer to the Christian retail channel. Doug Schwartz, co-writer of Soul Surfer’s screenplay, added: “I’ve been a writer and producer for the past 32 years, and I’ve never encountered a more inspiring true story than Bethany Hamilton’s. The movie will encourage people worldwide to rise above adversity.” Hamilton’s autobiography has sold nearly 1.5 million copies since its publication in 2004. A sequel, Soul Surfer-Now a Movie, is planned in conjunction with the theatrical release.