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File photo by Barry Courter / Jenn Gotzon Chandler and her husband Jim E. Chandler wrote the script for "The Farmer and the Belle" based in large part on their own courtship. She is a model/actress from New York who'd never seen a pig or a chicken until visiting his family's farm near Chickamauga.

"The Farmer and the Belle: Saving Santaland," the full-length feature film shot primarily in Walker County near McLemore Cove, is being shown in select theaters across the nation this weekend.

The closest to the Chattanooga area will be in Murfreesboro, Tenn., or the Atlanta area.

The story was inspired by the lead actors — Jim E. Chandler, who spent time living in the North Georgia area, and Jenn Gotzon and their true love story.

It follows Belle Winters (Gotzon), a New York City-based supermodel who is beginning to fear aging out of the industry. She remembers a charm bracelet with Biblical beauty affirmations that was given to her by her grandmother (Sandra Lafferty) when she was a child. Belle no longer has the bracelet but thinks it might be at Santaland, a Christmas farm where she played in her youth. She sets out to find it and finds much more in the process.

Chandler, Gotzon, Dr. Joel Bunkowske and George Escobar produced the feature, which also stars Corbin Bernsen, John Schneider (who sings in the movie, as well), Robert Amaya and Natasha Bure.

Chandler, who plays farmer Josh Carpenter, told the Times Free Press that while he only lived in the Chattanooga Valley for seven years, his family has lived there for more than a century and continues to operate New Dawn Farm and Camp New Dawn, a Christian summer camp, on the family property just down the road from Candlelight Ridge, a wedding venue in McLemore Cove.

"This movie is not possible without the support of the community," Chandler said.

The movie made its screen debut in Walker County during the 2020 holiday season.

Vision Films said in a news release that it is now screening the movie in areas where theaters are struggling to stay open and adding holiday festivities including caroling and Christmas shopping during some of the screenings.

In some areas, bookstores are also setting up a table to sell gifts and some locations will have the children's book "Beautiful Mable" written by the VeggieTales' Mike Nawrocki and featured in the film, along with the devotional book "Divine Beauty: Becoming Beautiful based on God's Truth" by Michelle Cox and Gotzon, and "The Farmer and The Belle" Beauty Bracelet, DVD and Soundtrack, including eight original songs.

While it opened Friday in several theaters around the country, it will be shown through Nov. 24 at the Premiere 6 in Murfreesboro and through Nov. 25 at the Digimax Theatres in Roswell, Georgia.

— Compiled by Barry Courter

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