I've had the privilege of participating in each of the less well-known festivals since they began in 2004. Some of the films, like Courageous which won Best of Festival this year, or Seven Days in Utopia which was my favorite and featured Robert Duvall, have large budgets and nationwide distribution. Most have much smaller amounts of money to work with and have been produced by families and friends who have a vision for working together on worthwhile projects that can make an impact on the culture. That, in itself, is a pretty amazing thing to see in light of how fragmented families are in America today.
This year was the seventh festival, and it has been very encouraging to see the quality of the films improve significantly over the years. However, what has amazed and encouraged me most about this film festival is the quality of the filmmakers. Many of them are in their late teens and early twenties, but you would never know that by the way they interact with one another and with much older adults, like me.
I had a wonderful discussion about how to strategically impact our culture with three brothers – ages 19, 21 and 22. They were knowledgeable, well-spoken, and very much at ease talking with a man over 40 years their senior. And, they have already worked in significant capacities on more than one feature film.
I spoke to a young girl who came up to ask me some questions about my storytelling performances at the festival. She had no difficulty looking at me straight in the eye, asking perceptive questions, and talking on a clearly adult level. She was 13.
At the airport when I was leaving, I ran into three young people who had attended the festival. They came over to introduce themselves to me and talk about their vision for making films. The oldest was 17.
These young people actually have values! They are unashamedly Christians. They are unashamedly pro-family. They are unashamedly pro-life. And, they are unashamedly pro-virtue. The girls dress modestly. The boys act responsibly. They are interested in life-partner relationships instead of casual dating relationships. And, they have been encouraged by their parents, siblings, and friends to pursue their dreams of making meaningful and entertaining films.
The Academy Awards get a lot of attention. They sometimes highlight inspirational films, which is very encouraging. However, the character of many of their “adult” filmmakers is often less than virtuous.
The San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival gets much less attention in the press. But, the quality of the people involved is inspiring. These “adult” filmmakers are not acting like frustrated, undisciplined adolescents. They are actually acting like adults, and the content of their films will only get better as the years go by.
In time, they may even add new meaning to the concept of an “adult” film.