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Special advocates featured in film’s message of hope

Josh Menning focuses on Ann Weigle during her interview for the upcoming bonus material for the DVD based on the novel and movie Song of the Tree Frogs.

Menning Films recently sat down with the Columbiana County CASA director, Ann Weigle, to discuss important messages for Domestic Violence Awareness, which is celebrated this month. Weigle oversees the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) organization through the Columbiana County Juvenile Courts in Lisbon.

Over a year ago, John Smith, a local author, and film producer with Menning Films, teamed up with Weigle after she read his novel, Song of the Tree Frogs, which was made into a feature film in 2020. The novel is now used as supplemental reading material for volunteers with the CASA organization. Josh Menning and John Smith (J.W. Kitson) had been planning to interview Ann Weigle after several actors and crew from the set of Song of the Tree Frogs had conducted personal messages of hope for those individuals struggling with domestic violence. “After connecting with Ann through my novel, Josh and I felt she was needed as a part of the filming for the upcoming DVD,” Smith said. “Ann, along her courageous volunteers, do such an amazing job working with our local at-risk youth, and Josh and I knew we needed to interview her.”

During filming of the movie in 2019, Josh Menning had the idea to interview some of the actors and crew members, asking them to provide messages of hope for the victims of domestic violence. Shannen Fields (Facing the Giants) and Karen Abercrombie (War Room) were included in the interviews. Fields played the role of Sarah, and she was one of the film’s producers. Abercrombie, who won Best Supporting Actress for her role as June in the film, also provided insight into ways to escape the violence. After interviewing Weigle, Menning Films will provide segments of her interview on the Facebook site dedicated to the film. These interviews will be part of the bonus materials featured on the DVD.

The novel immerses readers into the life of two brothers who are trapped in a world of domestic violence. When a courageous couple refuses to abandon the boys in their dangerous world, everything begins to change, and hope is restored for the brothers. “The story,” Weigle states, “provides such a realistic experience for the readers, and I had to make it an important part of my volunteers’ training. Telling the story from the ‘silent victim’s’ perspective was important because many of our clients are forced to witness abuse, the way Phillip does in the novel.”

To view some of the interviews, including Weigle’s powerful testimony, follow Song of the Tree Frogs on Facebook. The novel is available through Barnes and Noble and Amazon, and the movie is an exclusive film on PureFlix, as well as being available on Amazon, and other streaming sites. (Submitted material)

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