Friday, 13 February 2009

Movieguide's "Faith & Values Awards"

Written by  Liana Stanley

MovieguideOn Wednesday, February 11, a standing-room-only crowd packed the Grand Ballroom of the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills for the 17th Annual Faith & Values Awards Gala, increasingly being referred to as the “Christian Oscars.” Though virtually unremarked in the mainstream media, the red carpet was rolled out for many major-studio executives and Hollywood luminaries, including Pat Boone, Stephen Baldwin, and the show’s host, Chuck Norris.

The annual awards program [photo gallery] is sponsored by the Christian Film & Television Commission and Movieguide, founded by Ted Baehr. The commission’s purpose is to turn the principles of the mass media back to biblical Christianity and traditional family values. Throughout the year, Movieguide critiques current films based upon traditional American values, morality, wholesomeness, and faith; and each year awards several prizes to outstanding films and television programs.

The organization’s top prize is the Epiphany Prize for Inspiring Movies & TV. Two Epiphany Prizes are awarded, one for film and one for television. The prestigious prize seeks to honor the show that best exemplifies “man’s love for God or understanding of God.”

This year’s Epiphany for film was won by Fireproof, produced by Sherwood Pictures of Albany, Georgia. The production company is a ministry of Sherwood Baptist Church. Fireproof, like Sherwood’s first two pictures, Flywheel and Facing the Giants, is very low-budget and cast by volunteers. However, its fine acting and strong Christian message are outstanding and well-deserving of the prize. The movie stars Kirk Cameron, star of the Left Behind series and former teen heartthrob of the TV series Growing Pains, as a firefighter who’s heroic on the job, but whose marriage is falling apart. The movie shows what God intended marriage to be and what marriage can be through Christ. For more information on the movie, please see Ann Shibler’s outstanding review on this site.

The other films nominated for the film Epiphany were The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, Gran Torino, Henry Poole Is Here, The Longshots, and Tyler Perry’s The Family That Preys.

The Epiphany for most inspiring television program went to The Christmas Choir, the uplifting story about a group of homeless men turning their lives around by singing Christmas carols about Jesus. Other nominees in this category were the “For Warrick” episode of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, John Adams, and The Medal: Celebrating Our Nation’s Highest Honor.

Also awarded each year are three Kairos Prizes for Spiritually Uplifting Screenplays by Beginning Screenwriters. This year’s winners were A Matter of Time by Christina D. Denton, Touched by Rusty Whitener, and Moody Field by Darcy Faylor.

The Grace Award for Most Inspiring Performance in Movies or TV was given this year to Adriana Barraza for her role in Henry Poole Is Here. Others in the running were Kirk Cameron for Fireproof, Christopher Carley for Gran Torino, Clint Eastwood for Gran Torino, Armie Hammer for Billy: The Early Years, Garrett Morris for The Longshots, and Alfre Woodard for Tyler Perry’s The Family That Preys.

The Best Movie for Families was WALL-E, beating out Fireproof, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, Bolt, Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D, Nim’s Island, Kung Fu Panda, The Tale of Despereaux, Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, and High School Musical 3: Senior Year.

Iron Man was named the Best Movie for Mature Audiences, followed by Gran Torino, Valkyrie, Changeling, The Longshots, The Day the Earth Stood Still, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, Tyler Perry’s The Family That Preys, Marley & Me, and Henry Poole Is Here.

Finally, the commission bestows its Faith and Freedom Awards for Promoting Positive American Values. This year’s movie winner was Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, and the television winner was John Adams.

Each year’s gala gets bigger and better, and the overall stock of faith-based movies and films with traditional values from which to choose winners grows. In his report to movie makers, Ted Baehr shows that movies with very strong Christian, biblical and/or moral content reflecting traditional biblical principles did the best at the box office and on home video in 2008. Indeed, three of the five top-grossing movies, or 60 percent, had strong or very strong Christian, moral and/or biblical worldviews. His report also documents that movies with no sex, nudity, foul language, and substance abuse made significantly more money in America than movies depicting those themes.

Could it be that this is the result of Christians taking a more active role in the entertainment industry to redeem their culture? Kirk Cameron, star of Fireproof, believes so. During an interview on Movieguide TV, he enthusiastically described the “ripple effect”: if Christians are willing to individually stand up for what they believe in; then expand that to their homes and families, churches, communities, and so forth, the ripple will become ever larger until the entire culture is influenced. Movies are a tremendous vehicle for effecting transformation, and it seems Christians are getting back in the driver’s seat. Ted Baehr’s statistics and this year’s award-winning films indicate they are making great inroads.

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