‘The Hopeful’ Traces Beginnings of Seventh-Day Adventists

‘The Hopeful’ Traces Beginnings of Seventh-Day Adventists April 11, 2024

Set in 19th century New England, amidst the echoes of a nation emerging from war, the new film “The Hopeful,” which premieres next week through Fathom Events, paints a poignant canvas of faith and perseverance. Directed and co-produced by Emmy Award winning and three-time Australian Director’s Guild nominee Kyle Portbury, it explores the hearts of characters grappling with the anticipation of Christ’s return, only to confront the reality of shattered expectations. Tracing the beginnings of the Seventh Day Adventist church, Portbury delivers a narrative that transcends mere religious doctrine, offering a universal tale of hope amidst adversity.

‘The Hopeful’ image courtesy of Rogers & Cowan PMK.


“The Hopeful” centers on William Miller, a man burdened by the weight of divine revelation after surviving the tumult of the War of 1812. In a quest for understanding, Miller stumbles upon a prophecy that shakes the foundations of his faith — the imminent end of the world. Through Miller’s journey, audiences bear witness to the transformative power of hope, as his message reverberates through the community, stirring both fervent belief and vehement opposition.

Portbury’s vision for the film extends beyond the confines of religious allegory, aiming to craft a narrative that resonates with audiences irrespective of creed. In his own words, the film is “a love letter to my roots,” a testament to the human experience of grappling with unfulfilled expectations. Through Miller’s plight, Portbury invites viewers to reflect on their own encounters with disappointment and the resilience required to navigate such trials.

“They’re trying to persevere and what and keep an eye on this bigger thing that they’re a part of,” he said. “And not get lost in all of that and lose sight of that beautiful character of Christ. That was actually the thing that they got inspired by in the first place, which is all of our Christian journey. So often, you get like sidetracked and misdirected by so many things. When it comes down to it, you go back, it’s like it’s that really simple hope and healing aspect of Christ’s character. That is actually what’s so beautiful about it.”

Speaking on the creative process, Portbury emphasizes the importance of preserving artistic integrity amidst collaborative endeavors. Through many years and opinions, he took seriously his singular role to guide the storytelling process, ensuring coherence and emotional resonance. Through editing and an eye for narrative cohesion, Portbury and his team distilled years of footage into a 90-minute cinematic experience that stands as a testament to perseverance and creative ingenuity.

“This is a very personal project for me,” he said. “It’s a love letter to my roots, telling a powerful human story that I am proud to share not only with those who share my beliefs, but also with the many friends, family, and colleagues in my life who hold other views. I wanted to create a work that can stand on its own, about people who anticipated something major — yet had to deal with the fallout when that didn’t pan out. That’s a universal experience, not unique just to faith communities. Everyone has anticipated something only to see it not turn out like they imagined or dreamed it would.”

Portbury’s dedication to authenticity shines through in the film’s production, as evidenced by the meticulous attention to historical detail. Beyond its historical setting, however, “The Hopeful” speaks to timeless themes of resilience, faith, and the human capacity for hope. Through the trials faced by its characters, the film serves as a mirror to the universal human experience.

In the end, “The Hopeful” is more than a mere retelling of religious history; it is a testament to the enduring power of hope in the face of adversity. Through the lens of William Miller and his contemporaries, audiences are reminded of the transformative potential of faith and the resilience required to navigate life’s uncertainties. In Portbury’s hands, “The Hopeful” emerges as a poignant ode to the human spirit, a timeless narrative that continues to resonate with audiences of all walks of life.

“The Hopeful” releases April 17 and 18 through Fathom Events. Click here for more information or to purchase tickets.

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