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Real-life tragedy leads BCU alum on spiritual journey in novel, film

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ravine movie poster
Courtesy: Hope Messenger Media, LLC

SIOUX CITY (KTIV) - Next weekend, the drama "The Ravine" premieres in select theaters across the country, including the Promenade here in Sioux City.

Why Sioux City? The movie was co-produced, and co-written by Briar Cliff University alum Robert Pascuzzi, and his wife, Kelly, based on the book of the same name.

The story is a spiritual one born out of a real-life tragedy carrying lessons the Pascuzzis say everyone can learn.

"The Ravine" revolves around a shocking murder-suicide. Danny Turner, played by Peter Facinelli, kills his wife, and son, and then kills himself leaving the community to wonder why a loving father and husband would commit such heinous crimes. "They were based on true events," said Kelly Pascuzzi, Co-Producer, Co-Writer. Kelly Pascuzzi, who co-wrote the big screen version of her husband, Robert's, book of the same name, knows the story because she, and her husband, Robert, lived it. "We were faced with the unexpected, and the unimaginable… losing our best friends to a horrific tragedy," said Kelly Pascuzzi. "And, we were really left with focusing on what all we had lost, or what we still had."

The tragedy set the Pascuzzis on a spiritual journey. "It was really God's way of utilizing a tragedy for the greater good," said Kelly Pascuzzi. And, gave the couple a chance to impact other lives, as well. "That is the purpose of this film," said Kelly Pascuzzi. "We're hoping through this universal message of hope and forgiveness that we really impact people's lives."

Actor Kyle Lowder plays Tony Turner, Danny Turner's brother, who's character is left to grieve the loss of a brother, sister-in-law and nephew. In real life, Lowder lost his best friend to a drunk driver when he was just 16. "I definitely tapped into those memories and the emotional effectiveness of those memories transmuted from Kyle Lowder's experience to Tony Turner's experience, of course," said Kyle Lowder, Actor. "So, I really did draw on that experience." And, the experience of making the movie changed Lowder, too. "I would argue that anyone who watches this film, and who dedicates themselves to getting involved in the story, will leave this movie a changed person for the better," said Lowder. "I know that's a little bold, but I stand by it."

Robert Pascuzzi believes his film not only offers the opportunity for people to change, but to inspire them to hope. "Through whatever you have to endure in your life there's always hope," said Robert Pascuzzi, Co-Producer, Co-Writer. "Hope is always present. And, there's always a hopeful future if we look for it."

The movie will be released in select cities on Friday, April 2nd. In Sioux City,. The movie will show at 7:00pm Friday night at the Promenade Cinema 14, on Saturday, April 3rd at 2:00pm and 7:00pm, and on Sunday, April 4th at 4:00pm.

Before he was a filmmaker, Robert Pascuzzi was a student, and baseball player, at Briar Cliff University in Sioux City in the 1980s. When asked what he remembers most about his time at "The Cliff", Pascuzzi says he remembers the sense of "community." "Everybody supported everybody," said Robert Pascuzzi, Co-Producer, Co-Writer. "I played baseball, but the baseball team really supported the basketball team, and vice-versa. So, there was a lot of camaraderie. I loved the community, The community was the same way. A lot of support from the community."

Briar Cliff President Dr. Rachelle Karstens says she's excited that the Pascuzzis were able to make their book into a movie, and that they'll premiere it in Sioux City. "We had a sit down with Robert and Kelly via Zoom and I told Robert that I have a hashtag that I like to use," said Dr. Rachelle Karstens, Briar Cliff University President. "It's hashtag 'DoctorBCUIsProud'. And, I said we are absolutely so proud of you Robert and Kelly for this achievement in your lives."

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Matt Breen

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