For actress Jenn Gotzon, the heartwarming new family film “The Farmer and The Belle: Saving Santaland” is highly personal.
“I went through a very bad relationship, and I felt ugly, I felt worthless, I felt fat,” the model and actress told The Christian Post.
“Ater working with therapists and pastors, I realized I didn't see myself as God saw me. And then I learned that 90% of women in the world struggle with the same lies: ‘If I'm not beautiful, then I'm not worthy to be loved.’ This became the motive behind making the story that is the movie. I wanted to create a biblical pathway to empower girls and women with God's truth about value and beauty.”
“The Farmer and the Belle” stars Gotzon (“Frost," "Nixon”), her husband, Jim E. Chandler ("Stranger Things," "MacGyver"), and John Schneider, along with Corbin Bernsen, radio personality Delilah, singer Beckah Shae, Henry Cho, and others. The film is produced by Joel Bunkowske, along with Gotzon and Chandler.
Now available on video on demand, cable and DVD, the film follows a famous New York-based model who returns to her childhood hometown for the holidays. There, she falls in love with her childhood pen pal, a pig farmer and helps save the town’s beloved Santaland festival. An uplifting Christmas film, “The Farmer and The Belle” highlights the power of faith, love, and family.
Gotzon, who met Chandler while she was working as a fashion model in China in 2014, told CP she felt God calling her to create the film while visiting the Chandler family's farm in Tennessee.
“God said, ‘I want you to give birth to this story,’ she recalled. “And then we unified with experts in the field of screenwriting, producing and directing, and we lent our experience as actors for the film. But the value of the film came from my own personal life and learning that true beauty comes from the inside.”
In the film, young Belle receives a family heirloom — a bracelet complete with charms bearing phrases like “Beauty is on the inside.” Though she loses the bracelet in a pigsty, she later discovers it, learning the true meaning of beauty in the process.
Filmed on the very farm that inspired the movie, “The Farmer and The Belle” reminds women that “they're valuable, regardless of what somebody can give them, or what some societal norm teaches them,” the actress added.
“They're inherently valuable because they are created in the image of God.”
Though the story is largely intended for women and teenage girls, Chandler said he hopes it helps “men see women for what they really are: Heirs to the throne, and their daughters and sisters in Christ.”
“Women need to be treated with respect and love that they are so deserving of because they are, they are fearfully and wonderfully made,” he said.
“If we can encourage men to treat women better, then hopefully, that message can resonate with somebody who sees it,” Chandler continued. “Men need to understand that they play a part in allowing women to flourish. We need to treat them with kindness and to recognize their beauty is more than just being skin deep.”
Accompanying the film are three products that support the truth of beauty founded in having a relationship with God.
There’s a Beauty Bracelet that features five charms, each with two statements about the true nature of beauty; a 30-day devotional and study program, titled Divine Beauty: Becoming Beautiful Based on God's Truth, and a children's book that reinforces the film's message, titled Beautiful Mable, written by Mike Nawrocki, a co-creator of "VeggieTales," and illustrated by Sara Jo Floyd.
“These products are so timely because they remind women that their body and soul are marvelously made,” Gotzon said. “When you start meditating over and over on these biblical truths, your body and being will start to overcome the lies that your mind tells you.”
The message of “The Farmer and The Belle” is “clearly resonating” with women and girls, said Gotzon. Though she’s spoken on the topic of inner beauty for years, the film has evoked a “catalytic response,” she said.
“It’s helping so many people,” she said. “That’s why we pray, ‘Lord, use us, help us get this out there to the masses, to be able to minister to as many people as we can.’”
Chandler added, “We just hope to continue to find ways that we can minister to young women and girls. We want to hopefully impact and change the culture for the better."