(Photo: San Diego Christian Film Festival)
Hoping to strengthen a community of Christian filmmakers interested in bringing about a positive change in the types of movies coming out of Hollywood, more than 100 film industry experts are expected to attend the third annual San Diego Christian Film Festival this weekend, said a lead organizer of the event.
"It makes sense if we can just bring everybody together and share and help, and really raise the bar of the quality of film," said Chad Stewart, who is on the board of directors for the festival and the managing director of a production company based in Del Mar, Calif.
Stewart told The Christian Post that the films the festival features and the kind of movies he helps produce are not necessarily labeled under the Christian film genre, but are made by Christian filmmakers with the intent of producing movies that are of high standard and not in opposition to Biblical values.
"It's Christians making the best films out there – better than Hollywood," he explained. "You have A-list actors, you have extraordinary compelling character-driven stories, message films. You have great directors and producers. The market is starving for it, not hungry, starving for good quality films."
The festival's founder, Richard Bagdazian, said that the reason he started the festival three years ago was because "we live in a media-driven world."
"You can reach people for the Christian faith more quickly and effectively through visual media art forms than just about any other method," said Bagdazian in a video promoting the festival. "When somebody sits down to watch a movie you've got their hearts and minds for two hours and you can make a really lasting impression."
The opening night of the festival on Friday includes a red carpet reception and the screening of actor and filmmaker Corbin Benson's "25 Hill," a storyline that includes "a testament to those who find the courage to confront their pain and the faith to stay committed to values they hold dear."
Films will also be shown on Saturday and Sunday as well, including workshops with speakers such as Phil Cooke, who has produced media programming in nearly 50 countries. Also, scheduled to lead a workshop is David Nixon, the son of outback missionaries, who has been producing and directing films for the past 30 years. Nixon's feature films include "Fireproof," "Facing the Giants," and "Making Waves."
Stewart said that these are the types of films that most Christians in the movie industry are striving for.
"We are about Christians and our own understanding of what's right and wrong and putting that into films and never compromising. We're basing everything that we do on what we've learned through Christ, through the Bible, through our own beliefs. We are conveying that through film, but it's not in your face," he said. "Our goal literally is to spread the message for Christ."
He said that much of the Hollywood industry produce movies that are offensive and of low morals. "Little by little, Hollywood has lowered the bar. They've taken everything that God has said and is important and they've turned it upside down.
"What we're doing is trying to reset the bar and raise it again. If these films become successful people will start coming out. We want films that are exceptional films made by Christians," Steward said.
Part of raising the level of filmmaking among Christians in the industry will be to take the festival to other U.S. cities next year, he said. "We're excited about what's happening. We are a small community, but we are scattered everywhere. This will help bring us together."
For more information about the festival to take place at the Birch North Park Theatre visit the website: http://www.sdchristianfilmfestival.com/newSite/.