The time is right to initiate a festival that celebrates our cultural and artistic diversity and features young filmmakers who tell fresh stories and share new ideas," says Christian Vuissa, initiator of the First International LDS Film Festival 2001, which will launch next month in Provo. Deadline for film, video and screenplay submissions is October 15.
The festival is the first of its kind: a traveling film festival that focuses mainly on LDS filmmakers around the world. Vuissa, the festival initiator and founder of the non-profit organization LDSBox says that "any short film, video or screenplay that deals with the human experience in a sensitive and honest way is accepted."
Winning screenplays, films, and videos are eligible for cash prizes totaling $ 2000.00. Although the festival is aimed at young LDS filmmakers, the festival has no age limit and is not limited to LDS artists, either. "We want to motivate young people to express themselves creatively. Film is a collaborative process that invites creativity and teamwork. Today, everyone can make a great short film." Vuissa, himself a film student at BYU and native of Austria, believes that the LDS film festival will grow with each year and will have more and more international submissions.
The festival will be launched in November in Provo, Utah, and then tour Salt Lake, New York, Los Angeles, as well as several international venues. Besides the festival competition, the festival committee is planning a panel discussion featuring prominent LDS filmmakers, workshops and screenings of films that are not part of the competition. The exact times and places for the festival will be announced later this month.
LDSBox was founded to "sustain creative people in their pursuit to uplift the human spirit and support spirituality, religion, and transcendence in the arts and media." The goal of the organization is also to connect LDS artists around the world and give them the opportunity to interact and exchange ideas. Besides the film festival, LDSBox is planning other venues for young artists in the LDS community. People interested in supporting young artists are invited to participate. More information can be found at http://www.ldsbox.com.
The new renaissance in LDS filmmaking will be celebrated in Provo next weekend with the first Young LDS Film Festival.
According to organizer Christian Vuissa, the three-day festival Thursday-Saturday, Nov. 29-Dec.1 will spotlight selected films gleaned from more than 70 entries from around the world.
The festival includes a symposium and a panel discussion, both featuring prominent LDS filmmakers and theoreticians, filmmaker's presentations on the art of moviemaking and screenings of films that are not part of the competition. (Filmmakers invited to give presentations include "God's Army" and "Brigham City" director Richard Dutcher, "Pure Race" director Rocco deVilliers and Kurt Hale, whose comedy "Singles Ward" will be released early next year.)
Vuissa said the goal of the festival is to allow selected filmmakers to show their work "and talk about challenges, dreams and aspirations in a Hollywood-dominated market."
The event's centerpieces are two separate competition programs featuring 23 short films by LDS artists or featuring LDS-specific material.
Competition Program A will play Thursday at 5 p.m. Among its selections are Susan Teh's documentary "Of Shoes and Souls"; the children's fable "When the Wind Blows," by Erik Christensen; and the experimental piece "Shattered," by Krisi Church.
Competition Program B will play Thursday at 7:30 p.m. Its selected shorts include Brad Barber's documentary "Inspire or Damage"; the animated "Gestures," by Donald Mustard; and Chris Bowman's "The Wrong Brother."
Selected pieces from each program will also be shown as part of a best-of-competition program on Saturday at 7.30 p.m.
All featured events will be held in the Provo Theatre, 105 E. 100 North. Also, the best-of-competition program will be shown again a week later, on Saturday, Dec. 8, in the University of Utah's Fine Art Center Auditorium.
Tickets for individual programs are $3; $4 for the best-of-competition program. Festival passes are available for $20, which allow pass-holders admission to all programs, and there will be day passes available ($12 for admission to both the Thursday and Friday programs, or $12 for all the Saturday programs).
Tickets can be purchased at the door. Please be at the theater 15 minutes before the program starts.
For more information on the festival, including a full schedule of events, or for information on specific films included in the festival, browse the official Web site www.ldsbox.com.
Lights, camera, action!
Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will have the opportunity to showcase their films at the first annual LDS Film Festival.
The festival will premiere at the Provo Theatre Company on Thursday, Nov. 29.
Christian Vuissu, 32, a senior from Bregenz, Austria, majoring in film, is the founder of LDS Box - the nonprofit organization sponsoring the film festival.
"I organized the LDS Film Festival in order to create an event at which film artists, who are members of the church, can meet and share ideas," Vuissu said.
The film festival will show the 24 films up for awards in drama, comedy, animation, experimental and documentary categories.
The festival will run through Saturday, Dec. 1, with a panel discussion featuring local filmmakers and associates taking place on Saturday, Vuissu said.
The theme for the panel discussion is, "Serving Two Masters: Spirituality and Commerce in LDS Cinema," Vuissu said.
He said of the 70 films submitted to the selection committee, more than half of the entries were submitted by BYU students and alumni.
Karen Dixon, who graduated with a masters degree in dance from BYU in August, has submitted her film, "Textures and Temperaments," in the experimental film category. The film was her master's thesis, she said.
The film consists of three segments of dancers performing in three different settings, Dixon said.
"'Textures and Temperaments' represents the phases of life that each of us goes through and displays a variety of life's emotions," she said.
Dixon said this is her first film and said she is excited to be involved in the film festival.
Matthew Heimburger, an American Heritage professor at BYU, is a member of the panel discussion board.
Heimburger said he has been invited to sit on the panel discussion committee as an American Culture Historian.
Heimburger is working on a paper, which he will present at the film festival.
"The paper will discuss whether we as an LDS people are willing to be seen as a three-dimensional people," he said.
Heimburger said he believes it is an interesting period of time in the Latter-day Saint film movement as artists attempt to explore their own creativity at greater depths.
Heimburger said the film festival will provide church members the opportunity to present films that express their feelings on various topics, not necessarily relating to the gospel in a typical way.
"I look forward to the festival because I believe the purpose is to show good films," Heimburger said.
PROVO -- The first Young LDS Film Festival comes to Provo next week, with screenings Thursday and Nov. 30 and Dec. 1.
Prizes totaling $2,000 for the best films and screenplays will be awarded the evening of Dec. 1, as decided by a panel of judges comprised of LDS filmmakers.
BYU film student Christian Vuissa organized the event, which was open to all filmmakers who were LDS, whether their films contained religious themes or not.
He said he received more than 70 entries, mostly from Utah and California. Many came from BYU film students and have previously been featured in BYU's Final Cut film program.
Twenty-three finalist films have been culled from the submissions, and two 2-hour programs will be shown Thursday and Dec. 1.
Program B is the better of the two, if only for the presence of "The Wrong Brother." This 14-minute film by Chris Bowman is by far the best film in either program, and it swept all the major awards at BYU's Final Cut earlier this year.
It tells the story of Hector Wright, the fictional younger brother of Orville and Wilbur who got lost in the shadow of his brothers' airplane fame. The film is professional and polished, not to mention outrageously funny and well-acted. Take any opportunity to see it.
The rest of Program B is an interesting mix of styles. There's "Inspire or Damage," an entertaining documentary about wheelchair-bound filmmaker Travis Eberhard; "Andy," a charming story about a rambunctious foster child; and "Gestures," an impressive computer-animated film.
Program A also has some noteworthy entries. "4:53" is extremely well-done in terms of camera work and editing, and mockumentary "Auteur" -- about a director who has no idea how bad his films are -- is highly enjoyable. "Closure" tells of the horrors of being an unmarried 25-year-old man at BYU. "Crushed" and "Shattered," aside from having similar titles, also are both conceptual pieces dealing with self-worth and self-esteem.
Both programs have a few experimental works, as well as some films that seem to have been exercises in oddness rather than in storytelling. But most are no more than nine or 10 minutes long, and either two-hour program is worth seeing, particularly as it promotes local filmmaking.
PROVO -- It's the Sundance for the Sunday School crowd.
A festival for LDS filmmakers starts Thursday, Nov. 29, with programs at 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. at the Provo Theater, 105 E. 100 North.
Organizers hope to make the film festival an annual event.
Organizers also will name the festival's "best" movie. A panel of judges -- and audiences -- will pick the festival's top flick.
In addition to the competition, the event includes screenings of LDS-themed films, a symposium and a panel discussion featuring prominent LDS filmmakers.
"The time is right to initiate a festival that celebrates our cultural and artistic diversity and features young LDS filmmakers who tell fresh stories and share new ideas," says Christian Vuissa, founder of LDSBox, which sponsors the film festival.
LDSBox was founded to connect LDS artists around the world and give them the opportunity to interact and exchange ideas, according to the group's Web site.
For program details, go to www.ldsbox.com/cgi-bin/program.php.
The first annual Young LDS Film Festival is starting Thursday, Nov. 29 at the Provo Theatre, with a competition between filmmakers.
Christian Vuissa, creator and sponsor of the LDS film festival and ldsbox.com, said the first year of the festival is heading in the right direction.
Vuissa said he started the festival because he was interested in what young LDS filmmakers were coming up with.
"I am really excited about the program this year," Vuissa said, "I think it will be really successful."
Short films from young filmmakers will be shown Thursday, Nov. 29. BYU students and faculty made a number of the short films appearing in the first segment of the festival.
Rob Allen, faculty member in production design, worked on two films that will appear in the festival.
Allen said he was initially interested in the overall theme of the festival.
"The festival focuses on light and truth, and I am interested to see what other filmmakers have done with that," Allen said.
Allen was introduced to the film festival through the Theater and Media Arts Department at BYU. After visiting the Web site, ldsbox.com, Allen decided to find out more information about the festival.
Carter Durham, BYU alumnus, submitted a film entitled "The Wrong Brother" to the festival. Durham's film appeared in BYU's Final Cut last March.
"I hope it does as well in this festival as it did in Final Cut," Durham said.
"The Wrong Brother" is a comedy, but Durham said it is not hollow. The film definitely has a good message, he said.
"I am interested in seeing films from other parts of the world, and that is what this festival is all about," Durham said.
Durham said the Web site has been promoting submission of films from around the world.
Vuissa said the festival will be shown in New Zealand, Italy, Holland, Germany and Spain.
He said he hopes the festival will grow naturally over the years, despite the time and money needed.
"Hopefully the festival has a nice effect on young people," Vuissa said, "Maybe it will inspire them to make films of their own."
Judges vote for the best films of the competition and the winners move forward and north to Salt Lake. The best films will be shown at the University of Utah on Dec. 8, then around the world.
PROVO -- In the documentary "There's No Place Like Home," a junkie stretches a piece of surgical tubing tight around her arm and fills a syringe full of heroin.
As she prepares to stick the needle in a pulsing vein, several members of the audience turn away, unable to watch.
It was an uncomfortable moment for those who arrived Thursday at a film festival expecting film versions of The Book of Mormon.
The Young LDS Film festival, which runs through Saturday at the Provo Theatre, 105 E. 100 North, is a forum for a growing group of aspiring LDS filmmakers to showcase their work.
Besides screenings of short films, the festival also includes workshops and presentations by established filmmakers. Richard Dutcher, director of "God's Army" and one of the more successful LDS filmmakers, was scheduled to appear at the event.
"People have told me that it is long overdue," said film-fest organizer Christian Vuissa. "I think there's a need for a community for LDS filmmakers, a way to network."
Vuissa, an Austrian film student who is taking classes at Brigham Young University, hopes similar festivals happen all over the world.
He says people have contacted him through his Web site -- www.ldsbox.com -- asking him how to set up similar events for LDS Church members in Spain, Germany and New Zealand.
Like most who attended Thursday's screening, Daniel Drysdale dreams of becoming a filmmaker.
The English major at BYU came to Thursday's program to watch a documentary he made about footwear. He says he is in pre-production for a television series set in Egypt.
"Film is the closest thing to seeing dreams come true," says Brian Sullivan, one of Thursday's judges.
"The good news is there is talented youth year in and year out. They are dedicated, hopeful and inspired," Sullivan said. "The bad news is there really isn't any funding or awareness."
Sullivan, a former film student and professor at BYU, says it is more difficult to make movies than to become a brain surgeon.
Without support from the community, especially those with money, LDS filmmakers will never make it, he says.
"We have talent; all we need is funding," said another judge, Anne Sward-Hansen, an acting instructor at BYU. "A lot of these films are really impressive, especially considering the lack of resources they have to work with."
The festival continues today with presentations by LDS filmmakers and concludes Saturday at 7:30 p.m. with a screening of short films.
Celebrating Artistic Diversity
With over 15 events and 750 visitors, the First Young LDS Film Festival was a great success. Filmmakers, theoreticians, film critics and an enthusiastic audience shared a weekend of great films, presentations and discussions.
People came from as far as New Mexico, Minnesota, and California to be part of the festival. Everyone who came was impressed, inspired and excited: the Young LDS Film Festival is here to stay!
The Best of Competition program will now tour around the world. If you are interested in bringing the program to your city, stake or ward, please contact us.
To find out who won what at the festival, click here.
The "Best of Competition" program will be shown in SLC on Saturday, December 8, at 7.30 p.m. at the U's Fine Art Auditorium. Come and see the best films made by young LDS filmmakers in 2001.
Drama, 17 minutes, color, 2001
Filmmaker: Martin Patch
Tom Sorto, a top-notch but work-weary journalist whose overdue leave of absence is threatened by a work obligation, overcomes independence to meet the obligation and restore passion to his life.
Inspire or Damage
Documentary, 7 minutes, b/w, 2001
Director: Brad Barber
Travis Eberhard considers his future as a director fresh out of film school while fighting government corruption.
Drama, 8 minutes, color, 2001
Filmmaker: Ryan Arvay
A group of strangers from different walks of life reflect on their lives and each other in a diner.
Animation, 2 minutes, color, 2001
Filmmaker: Rob Allen
In a world of pervasive media, pandemonium erupts when one home aims to keep it out.
Comedy, 8 minutes, color, 2001
Filmmaker: Ryan Little
"Fast, cheap and not so good" is the mantra of no-budget filmmaker Allen Smithe. This hilarious short "Mockumentary" takes a glimpse at his unusual style. Armed with no sense and even less money, Smithe is determined to share his vision of being an Auteur filmmaker with anyone who can endure it.
The Wrong Brother
Drama, 14 minutes, color, 2001
Filmmaker: Chris Bowman
Feeling overshadowed by his famous older brothers Orville and Wilbur, Hector Wright resolves to make a name for himself by coming up with an invention of his own.
Animation, 10 minutes, color, 2000
Filmmaker: Donald Mustard
The suffocating drudgery of a achromatic world is pealed away as one perceptive city-dweller discovers a colorful, unique way out of his dreary existence.
Drama/Comedy, 9 minutes, color, 2001
Filmmakers: Ben Gourley, Brandon Dayton
A charming story about a rambunctious foster child.
Documentary, 13 minutes, color, 2001
Filmmaker: Brandon Arnold
"Don't get too close, honey, or you'll see all the wrinkles and all the trials of a hundred years." - Grandma Loie
Experimental, 4 minutes, color, 2000
Filmmaker: Brett Bolander
An interpretation of an untitled poem written by an anonymous high school senior who committed suicide two weeks after its writing.
Documentary, 14 minutes, color, 2001
Filmmaker: Matt Fackrell
Tiffany Fackrell, who is confined to a wheelchair, tells of her continued hope of walking one day.
Drama, 17 minutes, color, 2000
Filmmaker: Brian Petersen
Marty tries to reconcile the fact that he can't marry the love of his life due to religious differences.
PROVO (Dec. 19) -- LDS films and filmmaking have been garnering a bit more of the limelight lately, prompted by recent releases of films based on the culture of members of The Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter-day Saints.
Several of these recent films, such as "God's Army" and "Brigham City," seemed to elevate this attention to new levels as people were exposed to LDS films that were intended for a broad-based audience. Inevitably, the question arises: What is the future of LDS film making?
Where LDS filmmakers go from here was one of the topics discussed at the first annual Young LDS Film Festival, held at the Provo Theater Company on Nov. 29-Dec. 1. Organizer Randy Astle, said that the purpose of the festival was "to create an environment that would foster thought about film and practical film making."
The festival presented a variety of events to accomplish this goal, including viewings of independent films that were judged and sometimes given awards. In addition, symposiums and discussions were held in which experts in film making, writing, and the arts discussed and presented ways to improve LDS film making.
At one of these symposiums, Dean Duncan, BYU professor of film, spoke about how important it is for LDS filmmakers to truly understand film. Many filmmakers start out to produce films without understanding the art form of film, he said.
Duncan believes LDS films will not be successful until LDS filmmakers have a thorough understanding of film and its ability to reach people.
BYU English professor and writer Gideon Burton agreed with Duncan and added that one of the reasons LDS films have not found greater success is the lack of passion that seems to plague LDS cinema. Burton explained that for films of any culture to do well, they must explore how the culture deals with every day human experience that all sorts of people can relate to.
"We need Mormons who will take the medium seriously," said Burton, speaking of LDS filmmakers.
Matthew Heimburger, professor of history at BYU, also discussed how LDS filmmakers can improve LDS films. Heimburger spoke about how vital festivals, such as the Young LDS Film Festival, are defining what LDS film is.
The most important work of the festival will come after the event, he said, when those who have attended will discuss and apply the information and conclusions reached at the festival. Then, the changes needed to make LDS film making viable will begin. The real success will be seen at the next festival, when the results of this year's discussion will be seen in the films that will be showcased, said Heimburger.
The festival incorporated both practical filmmaking ideas as well as new thought on the direction that LDS films should take. One theme that seemed to stand out was the idea that LDS films may need to portray both the good and the trying parts of LDS culture. Heimburger said that LDS films need to show that members of the LDS Church have problems, just as people of other faiths and cultures. This, Heimburger asserted, will help to make LDS films interesting to a wide variety of people.
In speaking of how the festival can effect LDS film making, Ryan Astle explained that the organizers of the event hope to present the ideas that were discussed in Provo in many parts of the country -- and perhaps outside of this country. To accomplish this, the festival is sponsoring a program that will tour different congregations and cities. The "Best of Competition" will show some of the best films showcased at the Young LDS Film Festival. The goal is to help other LDS filmmakers throughout the world become aware of the topics that need to be addressed to promote and improve LDS film making, said Astle.
At the conclusion of the festival, several of the films the festival showcased seemed to contain the needed elements to continue improvement in LDS film making. The first-place award went to "The Wrong Brother," by Chris Bowman, a a comedy about Hector Wright, Orville and Wilbur Wright's younger brother, who struggles to make his own mark on society by moving out of his brothers' shadow.
Second place went to "Closure," by Brian Peterson, a film that explores the world of a 25-year-old BYU student who endures a crisis of faith when his high school sweetheart, who is a member of a different Christian faith, gets married.
Organizers are hopeful that filmmakers will use the ideas discussed at the festival to continue improving that art of LDS filmmaking.
To learn more about the Young LDS Film Festival or to bring the "Best of Competition" program to your congregation or city, visit www.ldsbox.com.
Latter-day Saint filmmakers have an opportunity to express their values and creativity at the 2nd annual LDS Film Festival in Provo.
"I wanted to create a place where film audiences interact and are inspired to make films," said Christian Vuissa, founder of the LDS Film Festival and a BYU graduate. "It's a great way for filmmakers to get exposure and make films about who they are and what they stand for."
Now through Nov. 16 at the historic Provo Library, the festival will show over 50 short films and documentaries featuring new and returning LDS filmmakers.
"There are so many different festivals, but what makes this one unique is the LDS community can get together, watch and discuss movies about our values, express our desires and share our problems," Vuissa said.
Vuissa said although the films cover a wide variety of topics, very few have LDS subjects. However, some spiritual aspects and beliefs are reflected in the films.
"I think as the festival builds, it will only get better and more recognized," said Marty Patch, a BYU graduate in film studies and previous member of the film festival. "It definitely provides a venue for films with good values, which is difficult to find in other festivals that are geared to weird and extreme films."
Patch, whose film made it into the top ten films that traveled all over the world last year, finds the local festival a nice break for new filmmakers to get their work shown and get feedback from real audiences.
"It usually takes a few years for a program like this to be taken seriously, but so far we have gotten really good responses from the film community and support from LDS filmmakers," Patch said.
Invited guests include Kurt Hale and Dave Hunter who produced "Singles Ward" and "The RM," and Adam Anderegg and Micah Merrill from "Charly," as well as other filmmakers.
"It's interesting to see how the local film community is getting behind the festival. People who did large movies are actually supporting us," said Tim Skousen, a BYU graduate in media arts from Florida. "It's definitely going to keep snowballing."
The program has expanded a lot since the first year; the number of films submitted has increased 80 percent this year, Skousen said.
With four full days of activities, the venue themed, "Fantasy and Reality In LDS Media," will also launch its first 24-Hour-Instant-Filmmaking Marathon. On Wednesday, Nov. 13 at 10:30 a.m., participants will receive a theme for a short film and will have 24 hours to create a film, which will be shown later that evening.
"We wanted to motivate new filmmakers to make a film. It's a way for people to get into it and not slave for hours over a film," Vuissa said. "People think more creatively when they are given few constraints."
"This is probably the biggest LDS film event in history," Vuissa said.
The unique festival allows participants to express their LDS values while making movies that pertain to their own lives.
"I'm not into making Mormon-themed movies, but I want to make sincere movies that show truth, beauty or something unique," said Megan Knorpp, 23, a senior from Houston, majoring in film. "It's a venue where families can come and watch clean movies and see films that are conscious of their religion."
Knorpp is one of only four women finalists who are a part of a separate category of female filmmakers. In a male-dominated industry, female filmmakers like Knorpp and finalist Susan Teh prefer to be mixed in among the male competitors and be treated as equals.
"Having four women as finalists is an accomplishment in itself," said Teh , 21, a junior from Wash. majoring in [film].
[PHOTO CAPTION: "Funky Town" by Matthew Janzen was one the 12 student films honored in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' 28th Annual Student Academy Awards copetition.]