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3-26-14 SONscreen Film Festival - Celebrating Creativity

“Celebrating Creativity” was the theme of the 12th annual SONscreen Film Festival, held March 20-22 on the campus of Southern Adventist University. Sponsored by the North American Division, it featured 20 short films from high school and college students, as well as professionals working in the field of visual communication. Student films competed for prizes in the categories of Documentary, Drama, Animation and High School.
The festival started on Thursday evening with an opening reception and a keynote address by Christian filmmaker Dave Christiano, who challenged the students to produce films that focus on Christ. “The stronger the message of your film, the more attention it will receive,” said Christiano. “The more you focus on Christ, the better chance you have of reaching people.”

Cast and crew of SONscreen winning film, "The Hideout"
The student film, “The Hideout” was the big winner this year. Produced by Matthew Disbro, filmed by Chris Stiles and written and directed by Daniel Wahlen, it dramatically examines sexual abuse of young children, a difficult topic with which it dealt strongly but delicately.
Festival attendees were touched by the biographical story of Pieter Damsteegt in “The Back of My Life,” winner of Best Documentary film. Damsteegt filmed his personal journey of coping with arthritis while attempting to finish college. “The Back of My Life” also won the award for Best Writing.
One of the festival highlights was the world premiere of “I’m Not Leaving,” an out-of-competition film produced by Kevin Ekvall that examines the Rwandan Genocide of 1994 through the eyes of Carl Wilkens. Wilkens and Ekvall took part in a special panel discussion with the audience after the filmed played.
On Friday, festival attendees had the opportunity to take part in workshops that focused on lighting, writing, directing, special effects, cinematography and sound design. One of the workshop presenters was Brett Perry, a Seventh-day Adventist music composer working in Hollywood, who taught classes on how to properly use music in film production.
Sabbath featured a worship service lead by The Lamb Wins, a music collective that looks at the book of Revelation through music. The afternoon film viewing block looked at films that were more spiritually based, as well as a special screening of The Blueprint, a documentary that gives an indepth look at Adventist Education.

“Each year our festival gets stronger and stronger,” said festival producer and NAD Communication Director, Dan Weber. “I am touched by the creativity and sincerity of our young people as they produce films that deal with topics that are sometimes difficult to talk about. This year we had films that examined taboo topics such as cancer, genocide, suicide and abuse. Each one took a different path, but acted responsibly in how they were produced. I’m proud of how our filmmakers have grown, and appreciate the guidance they are receiving at our schools. The focus of our festival is to tell our young filmmakers that it’s okay to produce Christian films. We want them to look at difficult topics through Christ’s eyes and I feel that many of this year's films did that.”

Here is a complete list of the winners from this year's festival:
Best Dramatic Short:     The Hideout, by Matthew Disbro, Southern Adventist University
Best Documentary Short:    The Back of My Life, by Pieter Damsteegt, Andrews University
Best Animation:   Disconnected, by Jason Dull, Southern Adventist University
Best High School Short:   Veteran Suicide Prevention, by Austin Greer
Best Writing   The Back of My Life
Best Cinematography:   The Hideout
Best Sound:   Sideshow
My Church: My Mission:   Extreme Servolution
Audience Choice:   The Hideout
Best in Fest:   The Hideout
North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists
9705 Patuxent Woods Drive
Columbia, MD 21046-1565 USA
Telephone: 443-391-7200
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