Category: Faith and Family on the Internet

Christopher Awards: ‘Hacksaw Ridge,’ ‘This Is Us,’ Dolly Parton and More …

Hacksaw-Ridge-This-Is-Us-ChristophersHollywood can often seem hostile to family values, but The Christopher Awards intend to honor good where it can be found, whether in movies, television or books.

The Christopher Awards were created in 1949 to celebrate writers, producers, directors, authors and illustrators whose work “affirms the highest values of the human spirit.”

Today, March 28, The Christophers — founded by Maryknoll priest Father James Keller in 1945 — released the 68th Annual Christopher Award winners, to be presented in New York City on May 16.

Said director of communications Tony Rossi:

“The powerful love of family is a thread in so many of our winning projects this year, be it family we’re related to by blood or those whose kindness and selflessness lead us to form an emotional and spiritual connection with them. These are the kinds of bonds that can change people’s lives and change the world.”

The movie winners are “Hacksaw Ridge,” “Hidden Figures,” “The Hollars” and “Queen of Katwe” (or own Father David Guffey reviewed that one). Said “Hidden Figures” director Ted Melfi (a previous winner for “St. Vincent” in 2014):

“Movies that entertain are the norm, but films that enlighten, educate and inspire are so rare, yet so important and the Christopher Award shines light on these films, further illuminating their footprint on the planet. As one candle has the ability to cast out darkness, such is the power of one film to impact hearts and minds for the better. It’s truly an honor to be considered for a Christopher Award…and an incredible blessing to be awarded one.”

The TV offerings blend TV-movies, scripted series and documentary. They are “60 Minutes: Gold Star Parents,” “America ReFramed: In the Game,” “Born This Way: Bachelor Pad,” “Dolly Parton’s Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love,” “Marathon: The Patriots Day Bombing” and hit freshman drama “This Is Us” (I had my say on that one).

Click here to read the whole release, including the rundown of worthy books for adults and young people.

Image: Courtesy NBC/Lionsgate

Learn more about Family Theater Productions’ upcoming, new and vintage productions as well as our Hollywood Outreach Programs; and, of course, you’ll find us on Facebook. Visit our YouTube and Ustream Channels for our contemporary and classic productions.

5 Ways to Use Nemo and Dory to Teach Family Prayer

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How do we learn to pray?

Unlike breathing, prayer is not an autonomic reflex. It has to be taught and practiced. Unfortunately, many of the times we spontaneously turn to prayer are pressure moments where we can’t give it a lot of thought.

But, movies can help, especially for parents and kids.

While watching a movie — or a TV episode or online video, for little ones with shorter attention spans — we can stop and talk about how to pray for the characters.

For example, there are many scary moments and big decisions to be made in a film like “Finding Nemo,” and talking about the characters’ dilemmas, rather than those of people you actually know, allows everyone to take a step back and think carefully.

I consulted with a few parents on how to do this, and here are some of their suggestions …

  • Pick a movie or TV episode you’ve seen many times before. The last thing you want to do is make a kid wait to see what happens next when you’re trying to teach him or her something.
  • Don’t do it too often in the video. Pick just the big moments, the crisis and decision points, and ask, “If you had to pray for Nemo or Marlin or Dory here, what would you say?”
  • Ask, from time to time, what the kids think God might want the character to do. Don’t be afraid to disagree with screenwriters’ choices. That improves critical thinking.
  • Keep it quick and light. This is Prayer 101, not a Masters in Theology.
  • If this sparks kids to talk about their own lives or that of their friends, keep that pause button on. No movie or teaching opportunity is more important than connecting with a child who’s willing to open up.

So, pray that movie … and please share your experiences or suggestions in the comments, either on the post, or on Facebook.

Image: Courtesy Disney/Pixar

Learn more about Family Theater Productions’ upcoming, new and vintage productions as well as our Hollywood Outreach Programs; and, of course, you’ll find us on Facebook. Visit our YouTube and Ustream Channels for our contemporary and classic productions.

Almsgiving for Lent: A TV Ad Nails the Message of Giving Back

State-Farm-Neighborhood-Volunteer-Alms-LentIt’s amazing how a secular ad agency can sometimes nail an essential tenet of Christianity, without necessarily meaning to do so.

We all want to help, and we’re bombarded with messages about helping — and during Lent especially, we’re commanded to give alms — but at what point do we actually reach out a hand to our fellow creatures?

Kudos to State Farm Insurance for summing it up in one short, heartfelt video, set to Joy Williams’ cover version of “Don’t Let Me Down,” by the Chainsmokers.

It’s a great reminder of the power of sound and images to touch the heart and the mind.

We also did a little video about Lent:

Image: Courtesy State Farm Insurance

Learn more about Family Theater Productions’ upcoming, new and vintage productions as well as our Hollywood Outreach Programs; and, of course, you’ll find us on Facebook. Visit our YouTube and Ustream Channels for our contemporary and classic productions.

Happy Birthday, William Shatner — Thanks for Working With Us!

William-Shatner-The-Soldier-ffbIn the early ’60s, before he landed the gig on “Star Trek,” which premiered in 1966, William Shatner was just another young actor in Hollywood looking for interesting work.

Among the places he landed was Family Theater Productions, on Sunset Boulevard, run at that time by its founder, Irish-born Father Patrick Peyton, C.S.C. Among FTP’s projects released in 1962 was a series of short films that were meditations on the Psalms, and Shatner appeared in three of them.

The first one features his narration and focuses on Psalm 83:

The next one features Psalm 3:

The last one, with Psalm 41, also gave an aspiring filmmaker his first official credit, as an assistant cameraman.

His name was George Lucas.

Shatner continues to be a force in entertainment and on Twitter. He turns 86 today and shows no signs of slowing down.

Happy Birthday!

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Image: Courtesy Family Theater Productions/Wikimedia Commons: Gage Skidmore

Learn more about Family Theater Productions’ upcoming, new and vintage productions as well as our Hollywood Outreach Programs; and, of course, you’ll find us on Facebook. Visit our YouTube and Ustream Channels for our contemporary and classic productions.

Patrick, Francis and ‘City of Saints’ — New Saintly Stories

City-of-SaintsMarch 17 is St. Patrick’s feast day, but as all Catholics know, we are surrounded by a cloud of saintly witnesses every day of the year.

Now, the Augustine Institute and the Norbertines of Saint Michael’s Abbey are offering new ways to see and hear saintly stories.

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Released today, “The Trials of Saint Patrick,” the second production from the Augustine Institute Radio Theatre, tells the truth behind the legend. From the homepage:

The Trials of Saint Patrick tells the dramatic story of how a kidnapped slave risked his life to become a champion of the Christian faith to the outer-reaches of the Roman Empire. With the Augustine Institute Radio Theatre’s high-quality acting, cinematic sound design and musical score, the much-loved Saint Patrick will be seen in a fresh new light.

Augustine Institute audio dramas capture the power and passion of the most compelling stories on the best theatre screen there is: your imagination.

You can listen to episode one by clicking here.

Brother-Francis-Augustine-LighthouseIt follows on the earlier release of “Brother Francis: The Barefoot Saint of Assisi” (the link also features a trailer video).

It’s described as:

A young man of wealth who became a traumatized prisoner of war and outcast. A holy beggar, he embraced the lepers, challenged a Pope, debated a Sultan and shook his world to its very core. Discover the Francis you never knew in Brother Francis. The Barefoot Saint of Assisi. 10 exciting episodes with over 50 actors capturing the power and passion of Francis of Assisi.

Both are available on CD, from Lighthouse Catholic Media.

Also, in the inbox today landed “City of Saints,” a seven-episode series from the Norbertines of Saint Michael’s Abbey (in Orange County, California), and Kinnane Films.

We don’t know much about it yet, except the trailer (click here for that; it can’t be embedded), which shows scenes of the Norbertines and of various people, says that the series tells seven true stories, and reminds is that “Every saint has a history; every sinner has a future.”

If you enter your email, the first episode lands in your own inbox on Monday, April 10.

If you don’t know about the Norbertine Fathers, here’s a little vignette of their communal life, from 2010:

Image: Norbertines of Saint Michael’s Abbey/Kinnane Films

Learn more about Family Theater Productions’ upcoming, new and vintage productions as well as our Hollywood Outreach Programs; and, of course, you’ll find us on Facebook.

5 Faithful, Inspirational Videos — From Bob Dylan to Salve Regina to Pentatonix

Salve-Regina-CFRRecently, my boss here at Family Theater Productions, Father David Guffey, C.S.C., asked each of us to come up with a list of videos that we found particularly compelling or inspirational.

When I looked at my own list, I realized not all the videos are the same — and one of them is from a secular singing group — but they do have things in common.

  • They are bold in their message.
  • Most of them are beautiful to look at.
  • They all place the Church, or the Christian message in general, squarely in the path of popular culture, without either denigrating the culture or degrading the Faith.
  • They speak truths and Truth.
  • They evangelize. (Bishop Barron often says that a young man found his Dylan video, then found more videos, then catechesis — eventually becoming Catholic.)

Which videos inspire you?

Enjoy!

Image: Spirit Juice/Franciscan Friars of the Renewal

Learn more about Family Theater Productions’ upcoming, new and vintage productions as well as our Hollywood Outreach Programs; and, of course, you’ll find us on Facebook.