San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival Announces Jubilee Award Winners

More than seven hundred participants representing states from Oregon to Florida and foreign countries including England and Scotland were on hand for the presentation of the Jubilee Awards during closing ceremonies at the first annual San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival, held at the Gonzalez Convention Center in downtown San Antonio this last weekend.

“Hollywood is at war with Christianity and the American family,” said Doug Phillips, founder of the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival. “Our goal this week, however, was not to curse the darkness, but to light a candle of hope by casting vision for the burgeoning movement of independent Christian filmmakers, by promoting the highest and most God-honoring standards for filmmaking, and by recognizing and rewarding excellence in Christian filmmaking.”

Phillips, who also served as one of the five film competition judges, noted, “We had more than 120 film submissions to our festival. We had numerous important and noteworthy films, so selecting the winners was no easy task. We are delighted to now recognize our winners — all worthy films that give glory to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.”

The “Best of Festival” Jubilee Award — a $10,000 grand prize — went to The Art of Play, a film short that poetically communicates the beauty of childhood in a Christian worldview. “Our film endeavors to capture the play habits of another era and the significance of the little things that make up life,” explained Graham and Joel Fisher, the two twenty-year-old twin brothers who both directed and produced the fourteen-minute short film. The Fisher twins run Beowulf Studios and The Art of Play was their first independently produced film. The total project cost for the film short was $1,500.

The top honor in the “Best Narrative” category went to Choosing Life, a powerful twelve-minute film about a nineteen-year-old girl who struggles over whether to abort her baby following an unplanned pregnancy. “[T]he film focuses not on graphic images ... but rather on the beauty of choosing life,” noted Shane Sooter, who produced and directed the film. “It is our goal to convince mothers that an unplanned pregnancy is not the end — there is a light at the end of the tunnel.” Sooter, who runs City on a Hill Productions, also tied for the runner-up award in the “Best Narrative” category with After Hours, a nine-minute short film that shows how seemingly innocent flirting can quickly turn into office-place adultery.

The “Best Documentary” Award went to Broad Oak: A Father’s Legacy, a half-hour documentary about the father of the great Bible commentator, Matthew Henry. Nineteen-year-old, Abigail Fox, of the United Kingdom, produced the film. “On hearing of the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival... my father made the suggestion of a documentary about Philip Henry, and the influence he undoubtedly had on his son, Matthew,” commented Abigail. “And so the research began.” The project was a family affair. Abigail’s brother, Daniel, was the videographer for the film, and both flew to the Alamo City from the UK to be a part of San Antonio’s first Christian film festival.

Shaky Town, a fifty-five minute documentary that examines the violent assault on Christian churches by San Francisco’s militant homosexual rights community, took first place in the “Best Political” category. “The title ‘Shaky Town’ is the name given by truckers for San Francisco,” observed Scotland natives Colin and Euan Gunn, the two brothers who produced the film, “and here we use it to describe the unstable foundations of a city built on immorality.”

The “Best Creation” Award went to the twelve-minute short film, From Genesis to Genes. The film looks at the difficulties rising from modern-day genetic manipulation and engineering and offers biblical guidelines to address these issues.

In the Dead of the Summer received the “Young Filmmaker’s” Award. Fifteen-year-old producer Caleb Walsh shared this about his winning entry: “The film revolves around a young teen who has been forsaken at a boarding home by his last living relatives.... [W]hen the boy gives all his worries to the Lord, the dinosaur attacks.... I believe the story strives to glorify God in that we who are doing His will see that all things work together for good for them that love God.”

Washington’s Cross easily won the “Audience Choice” Award. An overwhelming favorite among festival attendees, the 22½-minute short film also tied for runner-up in the “Best Narrative” category. “Washington’s Cross functions both as an allegory of Christian martyrdom and a harsh criticism on postmodern values,” explained Richard Ramsey, the film’s writer/director. “This film is an all-out attack on the three philosophical pillars of our postmodern culture: relativism, pluralism, and humanism.”

Other winners include Warriors of Honor, which took the runner-up award for “Best Documentary.” A powerful 54-minute film, Warriors examines the lives of Civil War Generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson and demonstrates that both were masterful generals, brilliant strategists, and, above all, faithful Christians. Choosing Life, winner of the “Best of Narrative” Award, also received the runner-up nod for “Best of Festival.” Runner-up for the “Best Political” Award went to The Wall, a film that details the misunderstandings of the metaphor, “the wall of separation” between church and state. Through High Places, a film that merges video of the majestic handiwork of the Lord’s creation with the music masterpiece of concert-recording pianist Calvin Jones, captured the runner up award for “Best of Creation.” The “Best Trailer” Award, an honor for the trailer that best promoted the festival, went to For His Glory, produced by Amy Nisbett.

Vision Forum Ministries is already making plans for the second annual San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival and Jubilee Awards, which will be held on October 27-29, 2005.