Category: Christians working in Arts and Media

‘Unplanned’: New Dad Kaiser Johnson on the Impact of the Planned Parenthood Drama

Kaiser Johnson of “Unplanned”/Screenshot: PureFlix Entertainment

Sometimes a story impacts an actor on ways he or she didn’t expect.

In the new film Unplanned, hitting theaters on May 29, Kaiser Johnson plays lawyer Jeff Paradowski, who helps former Planned Parenthood clinic director Abby Johnson (Ashley Brachter) with her legal troubles after she left the organization and turned to the pro-life perspective.

Since Johnson — who stars in Family Theater Productions’ online series Catholic Central —  filmed his part in the film early last year, he and wife Keeley Bright Johnson had a daughter. As he sat in the theater for the Los Angeles premiere of Unplanned, his daughter in his lap, he

Kaiser Johnson, with Lisa Hendey, daughter and wife Keeley Bright Johnson on the “Unplanned” red carpet in Los Angeles/Photo: Patrick Nuo

had some thoughts, shared with me yesterday:

It just took on a much more personal context. … I had my own thoughts about it beforehand, but then to see this, to be holding my daughter and go, “Oh, my gosh, there is a corporation and an industry that exists only to separate children from their parents And to look at that and go … how do we  not see this? How are we blind to this as a society?”

If we see that clearly, I hope that industry would cease to exist.

But, it’s like, the people who are clamoring the most about corporate greed and corporate power and stuff like that are looking at a corporation and an industry that is built around separating children from their parents. Whether it’s at the border or in whatever case, let’s look at where it’s being done the most, and the most recently, and that’s in the womb.

Based on Abby Johnson’s book, UnPlanned: The Dramatic True Story of a Former Planned Parenthood Leader’s Eye-Opening Journey Across the Life Line, the film chronicles how a Texas girl from a pro-life family became an ardent pro-choice advocate and a stellar employee — a clinic director by her late 20s — at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Bryan, Texas.

According to Abby, what she saw when she was called in to help with an ultrasound-guided abortion of a 13-week fetus shocked her. Having had two abortions herself (one with RU486, the so-called “abortion pill”), and spent years explaining the procedure to women at the clinic, Abby was no stranger to the concept.

But, she says, seeing the unborn baby fight to escape its own death affected her deeply, so deeply that she could no longer work at the clinic. She resigned in October, 2009. After leaving, Abby — also a wife and mother — has become a popular and tireless pro-life activist, author and speaker (and eventually, a Catholic).

Unplanned, directed and written by Chuck Konzelman and Cary Solomon (God’s Not Dead), traces Abby’s story from college through her change of heart. After Abby’s resignation, Planned Parenthood slapped her with a temporary restraining order to prevent her from talking about her former job. That order was lifted in Nov. 2009 — thanks to the efforts of Jeff Paradowski.

Kaiser Johnson got to meet the confident, freewheeling Paradowski at the premiere and said:

He’s exactly who you’d expect him to be. He’s definitely who he is in the movie.

Johnson also says that when you see Paradowski’s billboard in the film, that’s his real contact information. He notes:

So if you need a personal-injury lawyer in practice, you know who to call.

Johnson is a working film, TV and voiceover actor, and doing a controversial movie like this could impact his career. Asked about that, he says:

On the side of doing this movie, the only way to have this be controversial is if you don’t watch it, or if you go in bigoted and prejudiced, if you refuse to set your prejudices aside for a minute and actually look at it. This is a true story. This is a woman’s true story. If there’s anything that all of Hollywood is telling us right now, it’s that we need to listen to the true stories of women, and they should have a voice and be listened to … and I agree.

So if you are someone who goes, “Oh, no, this is the kiss of death to anyone’s carer,” or you go in and you go, “I’m not gonna see this movie because it’s anti-choice, or it’s anti-Planned Parenthood,” or something like that, well, you’re letting your biases shut out a true story that a woman has to tell. It’s a hot topic, but it shouldn’t be a controversial one.

And for those who might dismiss Unplanned by saying, “Oh, it’s just another one of those Christian movies,” Johnson says:

I read the script, and I’m like, “Oh, this isn’t even a Christian movie.” God is mentioned in it maybe twice, and it’s just because it’s part of the true story, too.” This is not a preachy movie. This is not an over-the-top movie. This is a movie that just shares the truth of this person’s story, and it’s worth watching.

Here’s a video Johnson recorded Tuesday for the Facebook page of Unplanned:

Kaiser Johnson who plays Jeff Paradowski (Paradowskilaw.com) in the movie #Unplanned – shares a personal story of how this movie has impacted him. See it in theaters this Friday – pre-order your tickets on Facebook and pay NO FEES – https://www.facebook.com/movies/2767431609998983 #Unplanned #PullBackTheCurtain

Posted by Unplanned on Tuesday, March 26, 2019

And a video Johnson shot on the set:

Lasly, here’s the film’s trailer:

For more information and to buy tickets, visit UnplannedFilm.com. Warning to parents, the Motion Picture Association of America gave the film an R rating for “some disturbing/bloody images.” The filmmakers claim this is unfair, but that the rating, as a CNSNews story says, “reinforces the position that abortion is violence.”

To watch Johnson in Catholic Central, visit CatholicCentral.com.

Image: PureFlix Entertainment/Patrick Nuo

Kate O’Hare, a longtime entertainment journalist, is Social Media Manager at Family Theater Productions.

Keep up with Family Theater Productions on FacebookTwitter  and YouTube.

History’s ‘Jesus: His Life’: Is It Worthwhile Lenten Watching?

Photo: History Channel

Sorry to say it, The Bible miniseries notwithstanding, but History Channel is not always the best place to hear about Christianity. Jesus: His Life, premiering tonight, Monday, March 25, is no exception.

The four-week, eight-episode series aims to tell the story of Christ (and, to its credit, it emphasizes how important it is to understand that story, even for unbelievers, if one is to understand Western civilization) through the eyes of those who knew him. The first two episodes were made available to critics — Joseph: The Nativity and John the Baptist: The Mission.

There are the usual sword-and-sandal Biblical recreations, but at least actors were cast in the major roles, including Jesus, that are much more robust and expressive than the overly reverent stiffs that are too often found in these documentaries. Interspersed with the dramatic segments is an array of talking heads, including clerics and academics.

It’s a mixed bag, with the clerics including the controversial Father James Martin, S.J., and megachurch pastor Joel Osteen; along with Episcopal Bishop Michael Curry (famous for preaching at the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle), Father Jonathan Morris, and Trinity United Church of Christ senior Pastor Rev. Otis Moss III.

Among the academics is Dr. Robert Cargill of the University of Iowa. At several points, he offers an, um, novel interpretation of Scripture, only to be followed by fellow scholar Dr. Ben Witherington of Asbury Theological Seminary, who disagrees with him. Being the resident skeptic appears to be Cargill’s self-proclaimed function.

As Kathy Schiffer noted in her detailed review at the National Catholic Register:

But the expert who seems intent on dredging up controversy – and who is given a primary role in the series – is Dr. Robert Cargill. I should not be surprised by Cargill’s questioning: Cargill, who has been called the “Skeptic in the Sanctuary,” sees his role as asking difficult questions. “This is where I stand,” Cargill wrote,

“…atop the continental divide between faith and science, with one foot in the range of rigorous academic inquiry and skeptical scrutiny, and the other on the often slippery slope of competing religious worldviews. And from this marvelous vantage point I can survey both directions and ask difficult questions of both faith and reason. I imagine that I’ll spend the remainder of my career here, the ever-searching soul attempting to mediate between the two.”

Lent is a favorite time for TV networks to run Christian-themed programming, often with a strong undercurrent of doubt and skepticism. They love to draw in the Christian audience but too often can’t resist the impulse to throw shade on their faith.

Jesus: His Life isn’t as bad as some, and there is some lively commentary that doesn’t make you feel like you’re sitting in the back of a dusty lecture hall. But, for faithful Christians, it doesn’t add much to the conversation. For the unchurched, it does put flesh and blood on Biblical figures, and that’s a good place to start.

It would be better for these folks if they watched The Bible, or Bishop Barron’s Catholicism. But, Jesus: His Life isn’t the worst thing on Christianity ever — and it’s way better than History’s fanciful drama Knightfall, the first season of which was about as much about the real Knights Templar as James Bond movies are about actual espionage.

Just remember that most, if not almost all, mainstream productions about Christianity are not designed to encourage or confirm people in faith. Often, it’s just the opposite.

Jesus: His Life doesn’t go that far, but frankly, I’d rather spice up my Lent by rewatching Franco Zeffirelli’s Jesus of Nazareth (here’s the whole thing) or The Ten Commandments.

Here are History’s episode descriptions and airdates:

Episode 1 – Joseph: The Nativity
Premieres Monday, March 25 at 8pm ET/PT on HISTORY
The Roman Empire occupies the land of Judea in a time of turbulent unrest. A simple craftsman named Joseph faces a personal test of faith in the small town of Nazareth, when his fiancée Mary tells him she is expecting a child, who is the Son of God. Joseph vows to love and protect his son Jesus through many dangers: his birth in Bethlehem, the visit of the Magi, and the flight to Egypt to escape death at the hands of mad King Herod.

Episode 2 – John the Baptist: The Mission
Premieres Monday, March 25 at 9pm ET/PT on HISTORY
Some thirty years after Jesus is born, his life intersects with that of John the Baptist, a radical preaching in the desert against Judea’s rulers, including Herod’s son, Herod Antipas. John baptizes Jesus, starting his divine mission, but loses his own life, beheaded in a famous conflict with Herod Antipas’ step-daughter, Salome.

Episode 3 – Mary: The First Miracles
Premieres Monday, April 1 at 8pm ET/PT on HISTORY
Mary, the mother of Jesus, is torn between wanting to protect her son and letting him go to fulfill his sacrificial destiny when the time is right; until Jesus is thirty, only she and Joseph know his mysterious mission. Jesus performs his first public miracle at her request at the Wedding Feast of Cana. But as Jesus’ work becomes public, he puts his life – and that of his family – in increasing danger. When Jesus heals a man on the Sabbath in Capernaum, he enrages the authorities and reaches an important crossroad.

Episode 4 – Caiaphas: The Raising of Lazarus
Premieres Monday, April 1 at 9pm ET/PT on HISTORY
Caiaphas, High Priest of Jerusalem and religious leader of the Jewish people, faces an impossible dilemma. Caught between determination to preserve his faith and the repressive might of Rome, Caiaphas must judge how great a provocation Jesus of Nazareth might pose. Jesus’ astonishing raising of Lazarus from the dead marks a turning point. Afraid that Jesus could prompt an uprising and possible brutal retaliation from Rome’s prefect, Pontius Pilate, Caiaphas decides Jesus must be stopped.

Episode 5 – Judas: The Betrayal
Premieres Monday, April 8 at 8pm ET/PT on HISTORY
His name a synonym for traitor even to this day, Judas is known as the devoted disciple who ultimately betrays Jesus. What prompted one of Jesus’ closest friends to turn on him remains one of the Bible’s great mysteries, one explored as Jesus and his disciples enter Jerusalem for Passover and what will become the Last Supper.

Episode 6 – Pilate: The Trial
Premieres Monday, April 8 at 9pm ET/PT on HISTORY
Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea, has to make a decision about a troublesome preacher called Jesus. As pressure builds to execute Jesus, Pilate’s wife, inspired by a prophetic nightmare, urges him to leave Jesus alone. Instead, Pilate sends him away to be crucified, and publicly washes his hands of responsibility.

Episode 7 – Mary Magdalene: The Crucifixion
Premieres Monday, April 15 at 8pm ET/PT on HISTORY
Cured of “seven demons” by Jesus, Mary Magdalene is among his best-known female followers. With his mother, Mary Magdalene witnesses the torment of the crucifixion at the foot of the cross. But her faith is rewarded the most when she is the first to witness the seemingly unbelievable: His resurrection.

Episode 8 – Peter: The Resurrection
Premieres Monday, April 15 at 9pm ET/PT on HISTORY
A simple fisherman, Peter was Jesus’ most devoted disciple, his “rock.” But when a frightened Peter disavows Jesus three times during Jesus’ arrest, Peter despairs. The resurrected Jesus appears to Peter and restores him by commanding him to spread his gospel, and Peter takes on that mission, becoming perhaps the most important of Jesus’ disciples.

Image: History Channel

Kate O’Hare, a longtime entertainment journalist, is Social Media Manager at Family Theater Productions.

Keep up with Family Theater Productions on FacebookTwitter  and YouTube.

BASED ON: ‘The Looming Tower’: Faith, the FBI and 9/11 Come Together in the Hulu Miniseries

Jeff Daniels (l), Tahar Rahim (r), ‘The Looming Tower’/Photo: JoJo Whilden/Hulu

Our producer-at-large Father Vince Kuna, C.S.C., a USC film-school grad, does a regular feature here called BASED ON, looking at literary works adapted into TV or movies.

The Looming Tower, a Hulu series based on the Lawrence Wright book, The Looming Tower: Al Qaeda and the Road to 9/11.

The timeframe of events leading to the September 11th terror attacks differs between the Lawrence Wright book and the Hulu-produced miniseries. Wright contends Al-Qaeda was formulated soon after the founding of Israel, but the showrunners choose to start the opening episode with the 1998 US Embassy in Nairobi bombing.

The television series misses an opportunity to take up the faith of the lead CIA operative, Michael Scheuer (played by Peter Sarsgaard and re-named “Martin Schmidt” for the show). Scheuer, a pious Catholic, held a cool detachment about the job he was tasked with. In 1999, he received intelligence that Usama bin Laden was to spend an overnight at the governor’s house in Kandahar. Scheuer recommended an immediate cruise missile strike. The military balked in fear of potential collateral damage. It’s not surprising the show was quick to consider the conflicted faith of John O’Neill (see below), but omits faith references when lived faithfully and rationally as in the case of Scheuer. (Ed. Note: Or, it may also be that “Martin Schmidt” is a composite character.)

The book traces the FBI’s history, and I thought it made for a fascinating — if unofficial — recent history of the Catholic Church in the United States. Wright describes an FBI composed almost entirely of Irish- and Italian-American Catholic men who often called each boyish nicknames, like Tommy or Danny or Mickey.

What Wright latches onto as objective truth, I can affirm subjectively. Only later in life did I learn from a retired FBI agent that my hometown was designated as an “agent-town”— mostly Catholic, white-collar accountants and finance guys, some of whom served in the military, that the Bureau could draw fresh recruits from. I was one of them. One of my vivid memories as a teenager was being set-up with an agent from my parish. I interviewed him about his job and learned of the struggles and joys in his service to our country. As fascinating as the conversation went, God had different plans for me.

America’s enemies have since changed — existential threats abound from abroad, and so less necessary are those recruits who grew up in Mafia-infested neighbors of big-city America. Agent John O’Neill (played by Jeff Daniels) first realizes these latest and most relevant foes and added to his team Ali Soufan (Tahar Rahim), a Muslim Lebanese immigrant, fluent in Arabic and Middle Eastern culture. Interestingly, O’Neill, in both real life and television, was a lapsed Catholic. Fittingly, I suppose, that one who is less obsequious to federal and clerical authority more readily challenges the status quo of operations.

Where the book only devotes a chapter to O’Neill’s infamous affairs and dalliances, the television show places his mixed personal life front and center — in fact, ensconcing it within a spiritual journey. These images juxtapose with depictions of Islam. Some critics took this as an indication of how similar the two faiths are. I disagree with the inference.

One equipped with a theological pedigree realizes the two faith traditions couldn’t stand further apart. Witness Muslim prayers intercut with a Catholic communion line. An imam delivers a long-winded, politically charged screed that effectively “talks God to death.” In contrast, the married O’Neill refrains from receiving communion. His unmarried mistress goes through the line. A great deal about the God of revelation and His people’s acceptance or rejection of Him is conveyed without the utterance of a single word.

Visual similarities, yet theological disparities, continue until the show’s tragic end. The radical Muslim Osama bin Laden orders the events of 9/11 from the remote confines of his technologically outfitted Afghan residence. O’Neill, recently retired from the FBI, takes the position of head of security for the World Trade Center. Survivors described his last moments of life as one who returned to a staircase dripping with jet fuel and helped others to escape.

In real life, O’Neill made an 11th-hour return to his faith in the spring of 2001, displaying the real, sacramental pull of the Church. For all of his personal faults, he rushed back into a hellish cauldron to live for others. In effect, at his life’s end, “Johnny” O’Neill took up his Cross and followed Him.

Image: Photo by JoJo Whilden/Hulu

Click here to visit Father Vince Kuna’s IMDB page.

Keep up with Family Theater Productions on FacebookTwitter  and YouTube.

BASED ON: Sundance/Windrider — ‘Luce’ and ‘The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind’

Tim Roth, Kevin Harrison Jr., Naomi Watts in ‘Luce’/Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Larkin Seiple

Our producer-at-large Father Vince Kuna, C.S.C., a USC film-school grad, does a regular feature here called BASED ON, looking at literary works adapted into TV or movies.

Luce, directed by Julius Onah, based on a play of the same title written by J.C. Lee. The two also wrote the screenplay. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind written and directed by Chiwetel Ejiofor, based on a memoir of the same title by William Kamkwamba.

Last month, I attended the Windrider Forum, an ecumenical Christian gathering of filmmakers and theologians held during the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. The year 2019 marked the first time the two worked in concert: Windrider moderating panel discussions, and the Sundance Institute (the film education branch of the film festival) supplying the filmmakers.

A Nigerian New Wave dominated the week’s proceedings. Chiwetel Ejiofor spoke of faith and reason elements in his environmental drama,The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind.

Grand Jury prizewinner Chinonye Chukwu stated her intentional staging of the execution scene as a crucifixion in the harrowing death row original drama, Clemency.

Julius Onah detailed his semi-autobiographical tale in Luce. All made reference to varying degrees of how their faith upbringings informed their films.

Luce began as an Off-Broadway play written by J.C. Lee and was adapted into a feature film with the assistance of Julius Onah. Kelvin Harrison, Jr. plays the title character, Luce Edgar. He’s a high-achieving high school student in every way imaginable: star athlete, straight A student and leader in various extra-curriculars.

As the story unfolds, however, we learn of Luce’s horrific back-story; warring marauders conscripted into child soldiering during the Congo’s civil war.  Peter (Tim Roth) and Amy Edgar (Naomi Watts) are the overly generous parents who adopted him at the age of 10 and assigned him the best of therapists to work through his trauma. And he did. Or did he?

Octavia Spencer plays Luce’s history teacher. While he scores high marks in her class, it’s a recent writing assignment that raises her hackles. Luce chooses a violent revolutionary to research. That curious choice coupled with the teacher invading Luce’s privacy (she discovers a stash of banned fireworks in his locker) exacerbates a previously hidden penchant for lying and deceit.

My filming-going priest-friend, a professor of Catholic literature at the University of Portland, observed Luce derives its title from Lucifer, the prince of deception and lies.

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind spins more of a family-friendly adaptation of a true story. A village in Malawi, similar to many villages in Malawi, suffers from a drought. A young boy named William Kamkwamba (Maxwell Simba) read about windmills during his truncated stay in primary school. After much opposition from his villagers, his father (Chiwetel Ejiofor), included, he is eventually able to reinvent windmills into his context that produces water to flow into once-barren fields.

Maxwell Simba, Chiwetel Ejiofor, ‘The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind’/Netflix

The movie captures well the need for subsidiarity, as the absence of this principle leads to an overweening federal government that cares little about the village’s local predicament, and, in fact, acts as a deterrent to human entrepreneurship.

Somewhat lost in the movie, however, is the critique of indigenous religions, which the author terms “magic.” They believe prayers alone can bring about an end to their dust bowl. Instead, it’s the monotheistic communities and Catholicism, in particular, that see a God who created the natural world in a certain order, and scientific inquiry is really the impulse of someone uncovering the natural order.

Reading the book, I was reminded of the tale of St. Boniface, apostle to the Germans in the 8th century. To show the power of Christ, he demonstrated that trees were not to be worshiped and so cut down the Thunder Oak of Thor. The God who breathed into life the natural world was the one to be worshiped. Any creations of the natural world of his fell under the dominion of humans and could be used as they saw ethically fit. Hence, electricity, running water and the Christmas tree.

Image: Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Larkin Seiple (‘Luce’); Netflix (‘Boy Who Harnessed the Wind’)

Click here to visit Father Vince Kuna’s IMDB page.

Keep up with Family Theater Productions on FacebookTwitter  and YouTube.

‘Period. End of Sentence’ Wins at Faith-Inspired Windrider Festival, Then at the Oscars

Photos: Alex Dee/Windrider

Each year, during the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, the Christian-infused Windrider International Film Festival also takes place — and this year, one of its honorees also took home an Oscar.

Currently available on Netflix (with English voices over the original Hindi), the 26-minute-long Period. End of Sentence, directed by 25-year-old Iranian-American Rayka Zehtabchi, took home the 2019 Windrider Triumph Award. It then went on to win Best Documentary Short Subject at the 91st Academy Awards on Feb. 24.

The film tackles the persistent stigma and lack of knowledge surrounding menstruation in rural India. Told in a straightforward manner (with a slight feminist gloss), it shows how a group of women acquired a machine that allows them to make high-quality, effective sanitary napkins, which the makers then hit the streets to sell.

The machine’s inventor is Arunachalam Muruganantham, the son of poor handloom weavers in South India, who was determined to solve the sanitary-pad problem (to the initial irritation of his unimpressed wife).

Ecumenical and focused on community-building, Windrider incorporated elements of the Angelus Film Festival, with which Family Theater Productions was deeply involved for many years. We continue to be a presenting sponsor of the Windrider Institute, which encompasses the Windrider Forum at Sundance, Windrider Productions and the festival.

Our head of production, Father David Guffey, C.S.C. (upper left), and producer at large Father Vince Kuna, C.S.C. (lower right), are regular attendees.

So, I checked with them to see what they thought of Period. End of Sentence. and why it’s garnered such honors.

What was your own reaction to Period. End of Sentence?

GUFFEY: As the film began I was quite uncomfortable, but soon into it you realize how the issue looms huge in the life of poor women in India and probably in many poor areas of the world.

KUNA: I thought the film was the best of the four that won awards at Windrider. (I admit some bias, as I overlapped USC film school with the director.) It was also the best of the five films nominated for documentary short subject Oscar.

Why do you think it won, both at Windrider and the Oscars?

GUFFEY: Windrider tries to find films that help people see the fullness of humanity and which give hope. The film exposes audiences to an issue that they probably do not think of, certainly most men would not think of, and then shows how people are working to address the issue in a positive way.

KUNA: Period. End of Sentence won the Windrider Short Film Showcase because the Indian village journeys on an arc from ignorance to knowledge, from ostracizing women to acceptance. It’s typically difficult for subjects to undergo a believable arc in that short amount of screen time.

I think it won the Documentary Short Subject Oscar because of some of the over-saturation of timely message films: racism, immigration, right-wing politics, etc. Period. End of Sentence is a timeless and universal film that differentiates itself from the pack. The film also best utilizes filmmaking tools (camerawork, sound design, editing) to contrast big city India with images of the small, quiet village most of the film takes place in.

What is the Windrider International Student Film Festival, and what are its goals?

GUFFEY: Windrider brings theology and film students together to screen movies and then discuss them both in terms of the craft and aesthetics of film, but also from a theological  and values perspective. They select some of the best of student work and screen it during the Windrider Forum at Sundance. That is one part of the experience.

Period was one of the selected films. Each day of the Forum, students also go to see films at Sundance. Then, each morning, there is a session with some of the producers, writers, directors or actors associated with the works they have viewed. The conversations have been amazing and not only for the students.

This past year, the Sundance organization approached Windrider about becoming officially recognized, in part, because Sundance filmmakers spoke of their positive experiences at Windrider. Many filmmakers long to have a deeper discussion about the meaning of their projects or the issues that inspired them. Windrider offers them that opportunity.

KUNA: The Windrider Festival is an ecumenical gathering of theology programs and film students during the Sundance Film Festival, highlighted by a student film festival on the opening night.

Each morning we gather and listen to a panel with Sundance filmmakers followed by a Q/A between filmmakers and attendees. Windrider hopes to inspire the next generation of Christian filmmakers through its student film festival and networking opportunities to established independent filmmakers.

It has met some of its goals in its pairing with the Sundance Institute, the educational branch of Sundance that hopes to bridge conversation between the faith community and mainstream filmmakers.

What is Family Theater Productions’ involvement with Windrider?

GUFFEY: Family Theater Productions is a major sponsor of Windrider. We have been working with their leadership, [entrepreneurs, filmmakers and brothers] John and Ed Priddy, for over 15 years, since back in the days when Family Theater Productions conducted the Angelus Film Festival. Windrider took over some of the aspects of Angelus and incorporated them into their programs.

KUNA: FTP remains a main sponsor of Windrider and presents one of the student film awards. The Angelus Film Festival that FTP used to run has been absorbed into the Windrider Forum.

How can someone get a film into Windrider?

GUFFEY: Windrider does not take public submissions but has a selection committee that seeks out films.

KUNA: See the following link to learn more about where to submit shorts. … www.windriderforum.info/showcase/

According to the site, Windrider is looking for:

  • Work by student filmmakers, emerging young filmmakers, and seasoned veteran filmmakers.
  • Films which imaginatively explore some of the following themes; COMPASSION, RESILIENCE, HOPE, HUMAN DIGNITY, DIVERSITY,  FREEDOM, EQUALITY, SPIRITUALITY, REDEMPTION, and the TRIUMPH OF THE HUMAN SPIRIT.

Next year’s Sundance Film Festival takes place January 23 to February 2, 2020, in Park City, Utah.

Images: Alex Dee/Windrider; Family Theater Productions

Kate O’Hare, a longtime entertainment journalist, is Social Media Manager at Family Theater Productions.

Keep up with Family Theater Productions on FacebookTwitter  and YouTube.

The ‘Movieguide Awards’ on Hallmark Celebrates Films and TV That Lift the Spirit

James Faulkner, Jim Caviezel ‘Paul: Apostle of Christ’/Photo: Movieguide®

Not sure why Hallmark Channel chose to air the Movieguide Awards the night after the Academy Awards — ensuring they’d be swamped in a flood of post-Oscar coverage — but this is one ceremony where love and light take center stage.

The actual ceremony — full name Faith & Values Awards Gala — took place on Feb. 8 at the Universal Hilton Hotel in Universal City, California, with the theme Movies and TV That Transform, and aired on Feb. 25 at 10 p.m. ET/PT. Movieguide is a nonprofit ministry dedicated to “redeeming the values of the entertainment industry by influencing industry executives and by informing and equipping the public about the influence of the entertainment media,” and, as the name suggests, reviews movies with an eye to the faith and values audience.

As part of the Gala, Movieguide founder Dr. Ted Baehr presented highlights from the organizations 2018 Report to the Entertainment Industry about what kinds of entertainment moviegoers and TV viewers actually prefer (hint: it’s often not the stuff that wins Emmys and Oscars). More on that here.

The hosts were actress and Fuller House star Candace Cameron Bure and her daughter, actress Natasha Bure.

Here are the nominees and winners (in bold):

The Visionary Award for Furthering Entertainment With Faith & Values

  • Bill Abbott, president & CEO of Crown Media Family Networks, and Michelle Vicary, executive vice president, programming, Crown Media Family Networks, for their work with Hallmark Channel.

Epiphany Prize to the Most Inspiring Movie

  • God’s Not Dead: A Light in Darkness
  • The Grinch
  • I Can Only Imagine
  • Paul, Apostle of Christ
  • Unbroken: Path to Redemption

Epiphany Prize to the Most Inspiring TV Program of 2018

  • Billy Graham: An Extraordinary Journey
  • Daredevil (Season 3, episode 13)
  • Elvis Presley: The Searcher: Part I and Part II
  • Manifest (pilot episode)
  • Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Season 5, episode 22)
  • Medal of Honor: ‘Hiroshi Hershey Miyamura’
  • A Shoe Addict’s Christmas
  • When Calls the Heart: The Greatest Christmas Blessing

Faith & Freedom Award for Movies

  • Ant-Man and the Wasp
  • Chappaquiddick
  • Incredibles 2
  • Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
  • Little Pink House
  • Paddington 2

Faith and Freedom Award for TV

  • Daredevil” (Season 3, episode 13)
  • Little Women
  • Manifest (pilot episode)
  • Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Season 5, episode 22)
  • Medal of Honor: ‘Hiroshi Hershey Miyamura’

Best Movie for Families

  • God’s Not Dead: A Light in Darkness
  • The Grinch
  • I Can Only Imagine
  • Incredibles 2
  • Mary Poppins Returns
  • Paddington 2
  • Paul, Apostle of Christ
  • Peter Rabbit (2018)
  • Ralph Breaks the Internet
  • Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse

10 Best Movies for Mature Audiences (in alphabetical order)

  • Ant-Man and the Wasp
  • Chappaquiddick
  • Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
  • Little Pink House
  • Mission: Impossible – Fallout
  • A Quiet Place
  • Skyscraper
  • Solo: A Star Wars Story
  • Unbroken: Path to Redemption
  • Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

Christie Peters Grace Award for Most Inspiring Performance for Movies

  • David A.R. White, God’s Not Dead: A Light in Darkness
  • Dennis Quaid, I Can Only Imagine
  • J. Michael Finley, I Can Only Imagine
  • James Faulkner, Paul, Apostle of Christ
  • Jim Caviezel, Paul, Apostle of Christ
  • John Krasinski, A Quiet Place
  • Emily Blunt, A Quiet Place
  • Samuel Hunt, Unbroken: Path to Redemption
  • Merritt Patterson, Unbroken: Path to Redemption

Christie Peters Grace Award for Most Inspiring Performance for TV

  • Emily Watson, Little Women
  • Henry Simmons, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Season 5, episode 22)
  • Chloe Bennet, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Season 5, episode 22)
  • Joanne Whalley, Daredevil (Season 3, episode 13)
  • Candace Cameron Bure, A Shoe Addict’s Christmas
  • Jean Smart, A Shoe Addict’s Christmas
  • Lori Loughlin, When Calls the Heart: The Greatest Christmas Blessing

$15,000 Kairos Prize for Most Spiritually Uplifting Screenplay by a First-Time or Beginning Screenwriter(s)

  • Nathan Leon, Grace by Night

$15,000 Kairos Pro Prize for Most Inspiring Screenplay by an Experienced Filmmaker

  • Paul Cooper, Mingo Road

Image: Movieguide®

Kate O’Hare, a longtime entertainment journalist, is Social Media Manager at Family Theater Productions.

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