Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Hanging at the 2007 Angelus Awards

The Angelus Awards - 'Creating Works that Respect the Dignity of the Human
by Hope Frances

HOLLYWOOD, Oct. 21, 2006 - The Angelus Student Film Festival Awards held today was packed with people. Sponsored by Family Theater Productions, the awards show was held at the Director's Guild of America on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. This eleventh annual festival has been selected twice as 'best student film festival' by MovieMaker magazine.

The mission of the Angelus Awards is to recognize student films that 'cultivate and honor future filmmakers as they explore and create works that respect the dignity of the human person.' And, that mission was apparent from the moment I walked into the lobby of the Director's Guild.

The lobby was filled with exhibitors, such as Pauline Books & Media, who work to further God's presence in the media.

After an opening prayer and some introductions of the staff of Family Theater Productions, the screening of the winning films began. Over 500 people packed the theater to view the eight winning student films. These short films were honored out of 522 submissions representing 28 different countries and 140 film schools.

According to Fr. Willy Raymond, National Director of Family Theater Productions, the future filmmakers' submissions had to undergo a rigorous, three-tiered process of elimination in order to have the honor of winning an Angelus award in the categories of animation, documentary or live action.

If a submission passes the initial round of judging, it then advances to the second level where professionals are brought in to select the 10 best in each category. Should a film pass the second level, it is then turned over to senior executives in the entertainment industry to select the winners in each category.

The highest honor of the evening, the Patrick Peyton Award for Excellence in Filmmaking, went to Barbara Stepansky for 'The Trojan Cow.' Based upon true events, Barbara's film follows the story of two East German teens as they illegally cross the border to West Germany in 1973 inside the belly of a hollow cow. Unexpectedly their journey sparks love between them.

The Polish-born, German-raised director studied film at the American Film Institute. The Angelus Awards is familiar territory to Barbara, as she was also a finalist in 2000 for her film "Blueberry Pancakes."

In her acceptance speech, she mentioned the Angelus Film Festival values and said that she bases her decisions on the integrity of the human being.

After congratulating the director on winning the top prize at the Angelus Awards, I asked her about the budget for the film. She said it was made on a shoestring budget of $30,000.

Her parting words were, "That proves anything is possible."

Indeed… God shines brighter than all the stars in Hollywood.

The complete list of the winning films and their directors are as follows:

Patrick Peyton Excellence in Filmmaking Award:"The Trojan Cow," Barbara Stepansky, American Film Institute

Priddy Bros. "Triumph" Award:"Queen of Cactus Cove," Anna Christopher, American Film Institute

Mole-Richardson Production Design Award:"Lucky," Avie Luthra, National Film and Television School, United Kingdom

Fujifilm Audience Impact Award:"Kilroy Was Here," Charlie Boyles, North Carolina School of the Arts
Director's Choice Award:"Kibera Kid," Nathan Collett, University of Southern California

Outstanding Animation Award, sponsored by the Catholic Academy for Communication Arts Professionals:"Crooked Mick of the Speewah," Philip Smith, Australian Film, Television & Radio School

Outstanding Screenplay Award, sponsored by Act One:"Kilroy Was Here," Charlie Boyles, North Carolina School of the Arts

Outstanding Documentary Award, sponsored by Maryknoll Productions:"Silences," Octavio Warnock-Graham, City College of New York

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

"The Cross at Cahuenga" - Shining God's love down upon Hollywood

By Hope Frances

This week God led me to a Hollywood landmark. And boy was I "wowed" by what I discovered

For the past month or so I have driven by a white cross on a hill in Hollywood. I was interested in finding out more about it until one night I drove by and saw it illuminated. That's when I knew that I had to experience it up close. I felt such a commanding presence from simply looking at the cross from the street below.

So, with my curiosity piqued, I asked my boyfriend to join me in a hike up the hill to view the cross in person.

We made our pilgrimage up the hill last Friday at the height of rush hour traffic on the 101 freeway below. The closer we came to the cross, the more peaceful the air became. Walking up the steep hill to the cross I started to get out of breath, but it was nothing compared to how breathtaking it was once we reached the apex.

Standing in front of the cross and seeing Hollywood in the background was such an awesome sight. What was more awesome, though, was the sense of calm and peace that we felt in front of the cross - a stark contrast to the busy population of 4 million below. It felt as if God was truly looking out over the city of Hollywood, protecting and guiding it.

We spent some time up there just taking it all in and feeling God's powerful presence. It's definitely something to experience firsthand.

The cross stands alone on the hill. There is nothing else up there. It is a testament to God's love shining down onto Hollywood. It is unwavering and unshakable in its protection of the city.
Although the cross doesn't have an official name, it is commonly referred to as the cross on Cahuenga - named after the Cahuenga Pass running between Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley.

The history of the cross dates back to the 1920's when an heiress, Christine Wetherill Stevenson, who was instrumental in building the Hollywood Bowl, wanted to build a theater specifically for religious pageants.

She purchased 29 acres of land across the street from the Hollywood Bowl and built the Pilgrimage Theater. The theater became the home of Stevenson's "Pilgrimage Play" written about the life of Jesus Christ. When she died in 1922, Christine Wetherill Stevenson was remembered with a stone cross, which stood atop the hill over-looking the Pilgrimage Theater.

In 1931 a brush fire destroyed the theater and another one was built in its place, this time constructed from concrete. The cross stood tall and was lit only during Easter when the "Pilgrimage Play" was performed. The public soon grew to appreciate the cross illuminated at night.

For a while, Southern California Edison footed the bill that kept the cross lit. Then in 1941 the cross was given to the county and the Pilgrimage Theater was renamed the John Anson Ford Ampitheatre. In 1964, sparked by lawsuits over the religious uses of the theater, performances of the "Pilgrimage Play" ceased. The following year the cross was damaged by fire and was replaced by a new cross, made of steel and Plexiglas.

By 1980 church and state politics again got in the way of the county's support of the cross. This prompted Hollywood Heritage to step in and purchase the site. Within four years the cross suffered the detrimental effects of vandalism, followed by a windstorm, which knocked it over.

The following year, 1985, volunteers erected a new cross 17-feet in height. In 1993 High Adventure Ministries built the current cross standing 33 feet tall. Finally, in 1997, the Church on the Way took over the care and maintenance of the cross on the Cahuenga Pass.

The most amazing part of our pilgrimage, however, happened on our descent. As we made our way down the hill we spotted a deer in the brush. We thought it was neat to see a deer blending in so well with the landscape.

But, it was more than just a deer. We realized it was symbolic to our pilgrimage and more importantly to the site of the cross. In the BIBLE a deer represents the desire of the soul to be in union with God.

Psalm 42:1-2 says:
"As the deer pants for streams of water, So my soul pants for you, O God.My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?"

How appropriate and symbolic it was to have seen a deer at the site of the cross on Cahuenga. It made our experience so much more profound and deeply spiritual. It represented our own soul's desire - as well as the desire of all you readers - to walk with Jesus on the path of life.

Truly… God shines brighter than all the stars in Hollywood.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Come to the Angelus Film Festival Oct. 21

Don't miss the film festival MOVIEMAKER MAGAZINE calls the "best bet" for student filmmakers

Be the first to see the best and the brightest young filmmakers from film schools worldwide.


Screenings & Awards hosted by Matt Gallant

Wine and Cheese Reception with filmmakers

A showcase of award-winning film-school dramas, animation and documentaries will be held Saturday, October 21 at the Directors Guild of America in Hollywood. Films from AFI, Columbia University, North Carolina School of the Arts, USC, and the Australian Film, Television, and Radio School, to name a few.

Hosted by Matt Gallant (American Inventor, Animal Planet) and featuring a $10,000 Grand Prize winner -- to be announced that evening -- as well as awards from Priddy Bros Entertainment, FujiFilm, Mole-Richardson, to name a few -- we invite you to be a part of this exciting night.

TICKETS ARE FREE, but you must contact us for them as soon as possible. Email or call 323-874-6633 today.

Don't miss this opportunity to meet Hollywood's future filmmakers today.

EVENT SCHEDULE - Saturday, October 21st
2:30 p.m.
Angelus Showcase films & Honorable Mention films.
Films include: SMILE (Chapman University), THE GUIDE STILL STANDING (Vassar College), WHATS LOVE DOING IN THE MOUNTAINS (Chapman University).
4:00 p.m.
Join filmmakers for a wine and cheese reception in the Atrium.
5:30 p.m.
Screenings of the winning films and awards ceremony, hosted by Matt Gallant.
Films include CROOKED MICK OF THE SPEEWAH, animation (Australian Film, Television, and Radio School), SILENCES, a documentary (City College of New York), KIBERA KID (USC), KILROY WAS HERE (North Carolina School of the Arts), LUCKY (National Film and Television School), QUEEN OF CACTUS COVE (American Film Institute), TROJAN COW (American Film Institute).

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Join us at the 14th Annual CIMA Mass and Awards Luncheon

Catholics in Media Associates (CIMA) warmly invites you to be a part of our 14th Annual Mass and Awards Luncheon. CIMA recognizes those projects and people in the entertainment industry who, in their work, have made clearer the Word of God.

This year we will be honoring the motion picture "The Chronicles of Narnia" and the television series "Cold Case." We will also be presenting our special Directors' Award to the television series "7th Heaven."

All are welcome to attend this wonderful morning of celebration and spirituality.

Date: Sunday, November 5, 2006
Time: 10:00 a.m.
Location: The Beverly Hilton Hotel, International Ballroom

Bishop Gerald E. Wilkerson will be celebrating this mass. Ticket prices for the Luncheon and Awards are $100 per person.

To order tickets and for more information, please visit our website at

Thursday, October 05, 2006

"Lights, Camera, GOD!"

By Hope Frances

Sodom & Gomorrah - that is the image people all over the world often think of when they see or hear the name, Hollywood.

I recently moved to Southern California. And guess where I've chosen to plant my suitcases and set up home?

You guessed it - Hollywood!

And now I'm getting a first hand view of how this little town works, how it breathes, how it lives. From anyone on the outside looking in, Hollywood may appear to be a decadent city where God doen't even get a footnote. Why? Because that is the image everybody sees when they watch the movies made here, see the TV shows produced here, or hear the music recorded here.

It is these celluloid images that become ingrained in the minds of people all over the world. But they're only celluloid images. They look real, but they are not. Everything is not as it appears to be. Just ask the local guys from here.

I should know. I live here now.

And so one wonders how God could possibly exist here in the entertainment capital of the world. And if so, where?

That was the inspiration for "Lights, Camera, God! - Faith Life in Hollywood."

God is alive and strong in Hollywood. The people who live and work here have strong faiths. They practice it. They believe.

You just need to know where to look. And you will find Him.

In some cases, He will find you.

Interestingly enough, once the editor of and I decided to start this new column, God spared no time in proving that He is definitely out here.

First, the film "Bella" won the People's Choice Award at the Toronto Film Festival. The following day I went to a coffee shop. And as I was waiting for my order I noticed a post card on the bulletin board advertising a prayer and Bible study group that meets right in the heart of Hollywood. Shortly after, the story broke that FoxFaith would produce 12 Christian films per year!

And, the list goes on…

Many will point out the deleterious effects that the "entertainment" industry can have on the lives of everyday people. They say it is an industry where the door to God appears to be bolted shut - where negativity breeds negativity.

In this blog, however, we chose to accent the positive in an effort to show that God is indeed alive and well in my town.

Hopefully the stories in this column will inspire and breed more positive change - so that God will always get top billing.

If you live in Hollywood, I encourage you to use this blog as a means for you to share your faith stories as well as any information you may have regarding prayer groups or the like which meet in the Hollywood area.

If you live elsewhere in the world, we pray that this column will be a bright beacon of light, proclaiming the wonderful news that God is truly amazingly present in Tinseltown.

Let's begin blogging. Tell us your thoughts. Ask us questions about God's presence in Hollywood and we will give you the full story. Let's get this blog buzzing.

Share your breaking Hollywood "God" news with us - tell us the big stories. But also, do tell us the little things about how and where you found God today as you walked the streets of Hollywood.


God shines brighter than all the stars in Hollywood.