Brother Billy (Richard Rossi, who also wrote, directed, produced, ran the camera, composed the music, edited and performed most of the songs for this movie) is a con man who has found his way into becoming a man of the Lord thanks to falling in love with Sister Sara (Rebecca Holden, who was April Curtis on Knight Rider and also appeared in Loverboy and The Sisterhood), whose preaching comes from a much more sincere place.
Rossi was a minister in Pittsburgh when he discovered televangelists faking miracles for money. I can only imagine he learned this during the making of His Place at WPCB-TV40 outside North Versailles. He turned the story of that moment into a play and after making two documentaries — Sister Aimee about Aimee Semple McPherson and Baseball’s Last Hero: 21 Clemente Stories — he decided to film Canaan Land.
According to the film’s website, this is a movie that answers a few questions, such as “What happens when a traumatized Christian who is a talented showman takes out his hurt and anger on God’s people by swindling them? What happens when he falls in love with a woman who loves God and wants to help people?”
This is a faith-based movie, but I’ve watched plenty of those, so I was sure that this would get way too preachy. Actually, it’s the opposite and does a great job of pointing out the bad parts of evangelism while showing that so many actually do have their hearts in the right place.
What’s really surprising are the cameos this film has, including Cindy Williams, Sally Kirkland, Elvis’ last fiancee Ginger Alden, Louis Gossett Jr., Karolyn Grimes (the real Zuzu Bailey!), Kathy Coleman (Holly from Land of the Lost) and Lynda Carter. It also has a packed cast, including Dawna Lee Heising, who has been quite good in several recent horror films I’ve seen (and this movie as well).