Saturday, December 18, 2010

jan 28-30 | missions fest film festival

Deb Sears is as "Pacific Theatre" as a Pacific Theatre person can get. She toured with the Salt Company (along with folks like Anthony F. Ingram, Erla Fay Forstythe, Damon Calderwood, me, and more), has appeared on our mainstage (You Can't Take It With You, You Still Can't, and many Stones Throw Productions over the year), was our board president and then key staff member through the transition years into Holy Trinity. She's still a PT regular, but her focus is more on film, and she's ended up curating what is now apparently an annual film festival in conjunction with Missions Fest. Good catch, MF...

Civil Rights Champions and Missionary Pioneers Celebrated 
at 2011 Missions Fest Vancouver Film Festival

Vancouver, BC, Canada – January is a terrific month to honour civil rights pioneer Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. - the 3rd Monday, near his January 15 birthday, is an American federal holiday. King's legacy will also be reflected upon later in the month at the 2nd annual Missions Fest Vancouver Film Festival (MFVFF) January 28 - 30, 2011 in Rooms 1 – 3, a 450 seat capacity space, on level 2 at the Vancouver Convention Centre, 999 Canada Place.

Two films included in the festival’s programming reference King and the non-violent approach for which he is renowned. Ethnographic Media's LITTLE TOWN OF BETHLEHEM, directed by award-winning filmmaker Jim Hanon (END OF THE SPEAR, THE GRANDFATHERS), takes viewers to Israel and follows a Palestinian Muslim, a Palestinian Christian and a Jew in their courageous struggle for a nonviolent solution to the crisis that has torn Palestinians and Israelis apart. And, Vancouver based Myra Ottewell's MISSISSIPPI REMIXED takes a fresh look at race relations in America’s Deep South. Both filmmakers will be present for post-screening talkbacks with the audience.

The pioneering spirit of other twentieth century greats is also celebrated in Yuan Zhiming's THE CROSS: JESUS IN CHINA - SEEDS OF BLOOD and, in THE FLAME. The former explores the footprints of the Chinese missionaries of the older generation following the Boxer Rebellion and unpacks why, despite communist control, the number of Chinese Christians increased from 700,000 in 1949 to approximately 70 million today. The latter unites two well-respected American Christians with a powerful medium.

World Vision and Samaritan's Purse founder Bob Pierce believed in the power of film to touch hearts and impact lives as nothing else could. Between 1950 and 1965 he shot and produced nine groundbreaking films – all revealing the divinely inspired evolution of World Vision's ministry. In 1952, Pierce partnered with director Dick Ross to make THE FLAME - a narrative documentary blend utilizing footage Pierce had shot in Korea. Over the years, Ross worked with many Hollywood stars including Gary Cooper, Frank Sinatra, Tony Curtis, Natalie Wood, John Wayne, Jean Arthur, Richard Chamberlain and, Pat Boone and Erik Estrada (THE CROSS AND THE SWITCHBLADE). After teaming up with Pierce, Ross went on to found the Billy Graham Association's film production arm, now known as World Wide Pictures, where he helmed many fine films. "My father had no way of knowing what God would do with his first film (THE 38th PARALLEL) or the others that followed. He simply took it a step at a time, faithfully sharing the Gospel, showing the need, and challenging Christians to live out their faith. He trusted God to do the rest...and He did!" states Marilee Pierce Dunker, one of the keynote speakers featured at Missions Fest Vancouver 2011. Following THE FLAME screening, Pierce Dunker will be present to speak about her father's filmmaking and answer audience questions.

The main film festival programming is rounded out with three films that tackle the challenging topics of contemporary persecution and enslavement. Opening night features the world premiere of Chris Atkins' FREEDOM FIGHTER. Sentenced to death because of his faith, the film follows Egyptian Rev. Majed El Shafie, who survived severe persecution and torture eventually escaping to Canada, as he fights to help those facing a similar fate in dangerous countries such as Pakistan and Afghanistan. El Shafie will be present for an audience talkback after the premiere. Hosted by Geetanjali Guptara, Michael Lawson’s INDIA'S FORGOTTEN WOMEN explores domestic violence, dowry crime, sex selective abortion, female infanticide, bonded labour, rape, temple prostitution, and human trafficking in the 250 million strong Dalit community. Closer to home, Hope for the Sold's ENSLAVED AND EXPLOITED: The Story of Sex Trafficking in Canada offers candid interviews with victims and agency representatives as well as Ratanak International’s Brian McConaghy and Canadian W5 Journalist Victor Malarek addressing various issues raised in the film. McConaghy will also be present for audience Q&A following the screening.

Many of the themes covered in the long form documentaries are also treated in award-winning shorter films. Saturday's programming includes three such films. The 168 Film Festival's 2010 Best Documentary Award winner, DESERT ARK, screens before FREEDOM FIGHTER. Preceding LITTLE TOWN OF BETHLEHEM is OLD RADICALS; honoured with three awards in Toronto's 2010 Hot Docs Doc Challenge. And, KAVI, which received the Gold Medal – Best Short Narrative Award at the 2009 Student Academy Awards®, follows the ENSLAVED AND EXPLOITED screening.

The film festival concludes Sunday afternoon with a collection of short pieces focusing on local and international mission and relief work mostly produced by Lower Mainland filmmakers. The filmmakers will be present for a brief talkback following each film.

In addition to the 8 film programs, containing nearly 500 minutes of film, four seminars are being presented in association with the film festival. Writer Marnie Wooding offers What is a Good Story? and, The Stories We Tell seminars on Friday afternoon at 1:30pm and 3:00pm respectively. At 12:30pm on Saturday, Actor / Producer Shannon Braithwaite moderates a panel of filmmakers on the topic Putting It All Together: From Funding to Filming to Distribution followed at 4:00pm by a hands on workshop entitled I Am Filmmaker facilitated by Phil Hood and Greg Meeres.

Weekend Film Festival Passes (admission to all screenings) are $10.00 and, Single Screening Tickets are $3.00. Tickets can be ordered in advance by cheque or credit card (MC, VISA, AMEX) by calling 604-524- 9944 or e-mailing Any remaining passes and tickets may be purchased at the door. Admission to the seminars and the Sunday afternoon film program is free.

Some films do contain scenes of the effects of violence in war torn countries as well as other content which may not be suitable for all audiences. Viewer discretion is advised. offers show times, film descriptions as well as links to trailers. The Missions Fest Vancouver program guide (available at area churches and at Missions Fest) provides similar information. A film festival booklet with full details and behind the scenes info will be available on site.
Founded in 1984, Missions Fest Vancouver is part of Missions Fest International. It highlights global mission opportunities, showcases over 230 international mission organizations, features world class speakers within the context of 130 seminars, plenary sessions, film screenings, youth rallies, and children's workshops. Its three-fold purpose is to inform, celebrate and challenge people of all ages to get involved in missions by sending, praying, giving and going. This all happens within a three-day weekend conference with 35,000+ people attending annually. Speakers for the 2011 fest, are: Viv & Ieda Grigg, Afshin Javid, Stephen Lungu, Michael Oh, Marilee Pierce Dunker and, Mike & Danae Yankoski. The “weekend at a glance” schedule can be accessed here

Missions Fest Vancouver has selected “What Does the Lord Require of You” as its 2011 theme. General admission is free.

Missions Fest Vancouver Film Festival 2011 Press Kit

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