The Christian Crash
By Carl Kozlowski
David Dginguerian had a lot of things going well in his life: a successful marriage to a model and actress and a string of successful business endeavors as an entrepreneur. But he and his wife, Amy Weber, both wanted children, and doctors had told them that was impossible.
But when they were blessed with twins after all, Dginguerian wanted to offer his thanks to God by spreading a faith-filled message through film. Three years later, he and Weber (who also has a prominent role in the film) are part of a team of producers who are hosting the world premiere of the new film Crossroad Sunday at the Alex Theatre in Glendale.
A surprisingly gritty thriller following the lives of 12 intersecting characters trapped in a diner together after it is unexpectedly robbed by masked gunmen, Crossroad offers a message of hope and forgiveness. For it is by resolving their conflicts and coming together to stand up in the face of evil that the characters manage to save themselves and each other — a message that held great appeal for Dginguerian.
“The script just touched me because it was a powerful, motivational story,” says Dginguerian, who has spent his life in Glendale and believes that his family “might have been the first Armenian family to settle there.” “That was the one thing that got my attention on this film. Even though it’s Christian, it’s still a mainstream film. You don’t want to push the faith message too much because you want to get in the theater system. It’s 12 strangers who each have a problem and all just happen to go to the diner in the morning and then it gets robbed. It’s amazing to see how they have so much in common, not just the story of one person. I call it the Crash of Christian movies.”
Indeed, a look at the film’s trailer reveals a movie that has a gritty and realistic sensibility and genuinely adult conflicts among a broad array of Angelenos, much like the Best Picture Oscar-winning Crash. Credit for that adult tone, a rarity in the Christian-film world, which often seeks to provide sanitized family films with only mild conflicts, rests with the film’s writer/director Shervin Youssefian.
“Not every message aimed at Christians has to be aimed at children,” says Youssefian, a longtime commercial director making his feature filmmaking debut with Crossroad. “There are many stories that are necessary to share with adults instead, so we are trying to reach adults even as we wanted to avoid going too far with the content.”
To that end, Youssefian and the producers submitted Crossroad for approval to the Dove Family Foundation, a Christian organization that gives a seal of approval to films that it deems positive for families to share together. While the film wasn’t designed for young children to see, the filmmakers wanted to have Dove approve it for ages 12 and up, and therefore agreed to take out a couple shots of blood and tone down the image of one man’s bloody hands.
“It’s still a very realistic and thoughtful film,” says Youssefian. “The idea of the crossroad has three meanings: a turning point in each character’s life, the decision of which path to take in life, and the road to the Cross and salvation.”
While Dgiguerian notes that there were a few obstacles along the way, including when Weber was hit by a car shortly before the shooting schedule began, and when the film’s main sound expert took another job at the last minute, he is proud that his team came together to overcome the hurdles. And with the film about to debut on the Alex Theatre’s big screen, he is excited not only to share the film with the public, but also the film’s fast-growing chances of a further theatrical release before it hits the DVD market in February or March.
“Lots of independent films start out but a lot of films don’t get made all the way through to completion,” says Dginguerian. “We knew we were going to get this film done, because we had a great message to get out to the world.”