We are at the apex of awards season, culminating with tonight’s Academy Awards. Beneath the glitz and glamour, the elegantly-gowned women and the nattily dressed men is usually political infighting, controversy over the nominated films and artist, and a chosen few of films that either fit a certain social narrative while excluding many others. Family-friendly and uplifting films are often overlooked or ignored in the typical award-season cycle.
Which is why The MovieGuide® Awards is a refreshing change. The show is fast becoming a haven for artists of faith, and those that appreciate the values of faith and family being celebrated on screen. Now in its 23rd year, this unique awards show has shown a marked increase in attendance, overflowing the ballroom at the Universal City Hilton, bordering Hollywood, just a few freeway exits from the Oscars’ Dolby Theater location.
On the Red Carpet before the awards show, the singers, actors, and other celebrity guests expressed their appreciation of Dr. Ted Baehr’s vision in creating a place where family-friendly and faith-based entertainment could not only find a home, but be lauded.
BOYHOOD star Brad Hawkins was thrilled to be invited for the first time, even though BOYHOOD is not on this year’s MovieGuide® nominations list. “I was looking around, and you’ve got these different awards shows: you’ve got the Golden Globes, you’ve got SAG Awards, and you’ve got the Oscars. But this is a very definitive awards show,” Hawkins said. “This is very specific on the content: family, faith-based, quality programming. I was so curious and so excited to be here, I just was like, I want to see what this is all about, because this is a very specific awards show; and I think it deserves that, I think it is necessary.”
The Movieguide® Awards honors the best family-friendly movies and television shows of the previous year. It not only picks the best movies for mature audiences, but awards the $100,000 Epiphany Prizes for Most Inspiring Movie and TV program of the Year. This award is supported by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation.
One of the winners of the Templeton prize said, “We’re just really grateful to The MovieGuide® Awards and to Ted Baehr and the John Templeton Foundation for sponsoring and supporting this kind of family-friendly, uplifting, well-done work. It’s just a great honor.”
Perhaps it is the recognition that Family, Faith, and Values-based films are on the rise, or perhaps it is the precarious state of our world today, but the sentiment among the attendees who walked the Red Carpet was gratitude, delight, camaraderie, and feeling at home in this community.
There were many young actors in attendance. Some expressed their appreciation of being able to express their faith, others simply supported the fact that faith should be at the forefront of cinematic endeavors, not relegated to a certain niche.
Actor-singer Jacob Latimore, fresh off the production of THE MAZE RUNNER, came to last year’s MovieGuide® Awards to sing THE BLACK NATIVITY’s version of “Be Grateful”. This year he was here to present an award, and to be a supportive presence. “I’m just happy to be here, because this awards show basically puts faith and freedom firmly on a platform like no other awards show does,” Latimore said. “It’s cool that we can honor things that teach morals that we grew up on. That’s the beauty of this; I’m happy to be here.”
Lou Wegner (TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE) was also excited to be back at the awards show. “I think it’s so wonderful to see so many faith-based [films] nominated for awards. Normally, they wouldn’t be nominated in other categories, so I’m just here to support it 100 percent.”
Katherine Shepler, who was last seen in Tyler Perry’s SINGLE MOM’S CLUB had her first turn on the Red Carpet, and was very vocal about the importance of giving credit where credit is due.
“I really just love the environment of encouraging and uplifting these actors and actresses that are in these family and faith-based films that really don’t get the credit they deserve,” Shepler said. “So when I was invited to come out here I was completely honored, and I’m just blessed to be here.”
THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS’s Kate Linder offered a seasoned perspective on the awards show. “This is one of my favorite evenings, because they honor shows here that deal with family-based issues, moving forward, and inspirational,” she said. “Life is just hard these days, it’s hard for everyone. And I think it’s important to sometimes take a step back, and take a breath, and return to the basics. We forget about where we’ve come from lots of times, so it’s important, and that’s why I like this evening.”
Charlie Chun of the movie THE INTERVIEW brought another adult-newcomer perspective to the festivities: “I’m loving being here. I feel it’s one of the few organizations that really shines a spotlight on where it needs to be shined, and that is in honoring storytelling that really uplifts the spirit and speaks to the universality of humanity, and uplifts the heart, you know?”
In speaking to the theme of the evening, “Faith and Freedom is For Reel” and his own involvement in the controversial movie which mocked North Korea, Chun had this to say: “I’m thrilled with the controversy because it did bring much needed attention to the tragedies, the human rights tragedies that are happening there.
“All entertainment is great, but I feel like the reason that storytelling has always existed throughout humanity is to really encourage people to inspire us, and ultimately to transform our journeys in a much more positive, uplifting way.”
Chrystee Pharris of the soap-opera PASSIONS said it best: “It’s important that we as actors tell the world, tell this industry. I am a woman of God, a woman of faith, and I support these films, and I want the world to know that I support these films.”
REELZ CEO Stan E. Hubbard, who aired the MovieGuide® Awards for its second year encapsulated the importance of such an award show in Hollywood’s series of award galas: “The best that Hollywood has to offer is coming out to do it. And I think what the Baehr’s have done with MovieGuide is lifting, and lifting, and lifting, and it’s helping the whole industry, and what happens is that the industry realizes, hey, this is good for business. So, it’s a big circle and we’re just thrilled to be in it.”
The MovieGuide® Awards aired on February 21, 2015 on the REELZ Channel, and will air an encore presentation on Monday February 23, at 9:00 p.m. Eastern and 6:00 pm. Pacific.