Third Annual “Film Your Faith” Video Contest Winners

A total of $32,500 in prizes were awarded the Grand Prize-winning, Fan Favorite and Honorable Mention films of two minutes or less showcasing the power of faith in a positive light. The Grand Prize and Honorable Mention winners were announced Friday at the Religion Newswriters Association conference in Columbus, Ohio. The Fan Favorite winner, which is awarded to the Top Ten finalist video that receives the most online votes, was revealed Aug. 10.

“It is breathtaking what these talented filmmakers are able to so positively communicate about faith in just two minutes,” said Faith Counts Communications Director Kerry Troup. “The work of this year’s awardees will truly touch anyone who views it.”

The 2018 winners are:

  • GRAND PRIZE / $20,000:  Kyle Churchwell, Lucedale, Mississippi, Faith Is Knowing
  • FAN FAVORITE / $10,000:  Cooper Anderson, Bend, Oregon, Shameless
  • HONORABLE MENTION / $2,500: Landon Mauricio, Ewa Beach, Hawaii, The World Needs to Know

In an amazing twist resulting from Churchwell’s Faith Is Knowing, the winning film reunited the subject of the movie, Tori Welford, with her long-lost biological father, half-sisters and half-brother.

“While creating the Faith Is Knowing film with Tori, I knew that her story would resonate with people considering how miraculous it is,” Churchwell said. “It is amazing to be a Top 10 Finalist and Grand Prize Winner, but the purpose of film goes beyond winning awards. It is about telling a truly compelling story in hopes of giving the audience a meaningful experience. It is an amazing feeling to know that Tori found her biological father through a film we created and posted online. To have that kind of impact on people’s lives is my ultimate goal as a filmmaker.”

Faith Is Knowing recounts Tori’s remarkable life journey. She learned she was adopted at age 7, but when she turned 17, her adopted mom told her the rest of her story. Her biological mother, struggling with substance abuse, and with her grandmother’s help, had placed newborn Tori in a garbage bag in a trash can on their front porch.

Tori’s biological brother found her hours later, covered in ants and blue from lack of oxygen, and got her to a hospital where she was not expected to live. But she did.

With the film posted on Facebook and seen widely in Tori’s hometown, a man reached out to her. He had watched Faith Is Knowing multiple times and saw a resemblance between himself and Tori. A DNA test confirmed . . . it was Tori’s biological father. They had lived in the same small town all along. Her biological mother ultimately went to prison. Since the film, Tori has reconnected with her father, half-sisters and half-brother.

“I hope my story is able to help those that have felt like they’re not wanted,” Tori said in the film. “If they just keep their faith and trust in Christ, God does have a plan for their life.”

Relying on that faith, Tori has forgiven her mother.

This year’s Film Your Faith Panel of Judges includes:

  • Rich Peluso, AFFIRM Films
  • Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, Archbishop of Louisville and past president, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
  • Sister Sharon Eubank, first counselor of the General Presidency of the Relief Society, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
  • Rabbi Joshua Bolton, University of Pennsylvania Hillel chapter
  • Steve Taylor, film producer (BLUE LIKE JAZZ)
  • Kam Williams, Rotten Tomatoes critic
  • Matt Baer, film producer (UNBROKEN)
  • Simon Rivera, 2017 Film Your Faith grand-prize winner
  • Bob Waliszewski, director of Plugged In
  • Baldev Singh, Executive Director, Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund

Faith Counts, LLC is a nonprofit, non-denominational organization comprised of faith communities representing nearly 100 million Americans. We’ve come together to share a simple message that “faith counts.”

In 2014, several faith leaders came together to address a trend of declining church attendance and declining religiosity. They saw how an increasingly secular culture left too many people in a spiritual void that excludes them from meaningful, deep connections to the people and world around them.

Online, they saw how young people were willing to share quite literally every personal, intimate detail of their lives—except the details of their faith. There was and is a growing sense that faith should somehow be kept private. Many are reluctant or even embarrassed to share how their faith makes them who they are.

While each of their respective denominations were doing their own outreach to combat these issues, the faith leaders knew they would be more effective working together. And so, Faith Counts was launched in October 2014 as an attempt to positively influence the culture and to gently remind people that faith is a good thing.

Copyright © Michael Siebenaler

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