April 15, 2005

 , "The Santa Barbara Award for Excellence in film" went to Jack Hafer for his moving film "To End All Wars."

Pictured are Hal, Jack Hafer (recipient of the award) and Denny.

Our first film festival was an experience that impacted all of our lives. The opening night began with an elegant, catered reception in which the participants were able to talk with Jack Hafer, producer of "To End All Wars." After the reception the participants continued to feast on the articulate explanations of life and faith woven into this moving film. Based on the book by Ernest Gordon, who became a believer in Jesus Christ and chaplain of Princeton for many years, Jack took us through the decade long, sacrificial process of securing the rights and producing the film using the exceptional director David L. Cunningham.

As we viewed this work of art weaving faith and film together, we were all enriched as we walked through the horrific experiences of these captors and captives and the choices they made.

Following the film, the award was given to Jack with his wife Betty by his side. Choosing a prism award we highlighted the way light can become multifaceted in the wonderful art of cinema, both visually and spiritually. People did not want to leave the sacred space this first evening created.

Pictured are Tim Hoover (Director of THE DIVINE), Denny and Hal.

The second evening we had a double feature, beginning with the award-winning short film, THE DIVINE. Directed and produced by Tim Hoover, the participants were able to discuss with him the mystical symbolism of his transforming film. Created with such beauty and symbolism that the dialogue was almost unnecessary, this spiritually powerful film explores the deeper questions of disability, disease, death and despair, while also exploring the nature of faith and hope as well.

The second film shown was HOTEL RWANDA. The true story of a resourceful hotel owner who saved the lives of hundreds of people during that genocidal war, the participants discussed the power of film to confront the social ills of racism, war and poverty. The discussion led to questions of how one responds as people of faith to such horrific evils.

The final day of the festival took the participants to view a current film, Danny Boyle's MILLIONS. A fantasy of spiritual proportions, this study of how two brothers respond to sudden wealth is insightful.

Many participants of the first annual CINEMA IN FOCUS FESTIVAL were lamenting that this could not come more often than once a year! Though we agree, there are no plans at this time to do it before the spring of 2006. Plan now to join us!