AND THE WINNER IS…FAITH COUNTS ANNOUNCES $20,000 GRAND PRIZE WINNER
INAUGURAL FILM YOUR FAITH CONTEST PUTS FAITH IN FOCUS
PHILADELPHIA – Today, the Grand Prize winner of the first-ever Film Your Faith video contest was announced, after weeks of deliberation by a judge’s panel of national faith leaders. The announcement took place before a crowd of faith leaders and religion reporters at the annual conference of the Religion Newswriters Association. Carlos Cuervo of Miami, Florida, accepted the $20,000 award for his submission “Without Walls,” which brings to life the work of a small faith-based charity ministering to the homeless. “I was so surprised and so happy when I found out I won the Grand Prize! The reason I got into filmmaking is because I thought I could do something positive through it, and this has proved that for me,” said Mr. Cuervo.
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Faith Counts—a multi-faith venture backed by the nation’s largest religious groups—launched the Film Your Faith video contest in June 2015. Since its 2014 founding, Faith Counts has reached over 20 million individuals using multiple social media platforms to promote the value of faith in society. Faith Counts is now the fastest growing among the thousands of religiously-themed page on Facebook.
Speaking on behalf of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Archbishop William Lori remarked, “Every single day, people engage in large and small acts of faith that greatly benefit our society and help the most vulnerable amongst us. Faith Counts and this contest are relevant ways to recognize and celebrate the important contributions of religion and faith.” Elder Donald L. Hallstrom of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, agreed, stating, “I am so pleased to be part of this great initiative aimed at promoting faith. Seeing the winner accept the award was an affirmation that young people truly do understand the profound good that faith accomplishes.”
The Film Your Faith video contest called for 2-minute videos showcasing faith in a positive light and attracted over 100 entrants from around the country. The promotional marketing included outreach to young people via colleges, university film schools, religiously affiliated schools and campus groups including CRU, The Navigators, and Faith Counts partner Hillel. Speaking for Hillel, Rabbi Joshua Bolton of the University of Pennsylvania, stated, “I get to work with young people every day and so I know first-hand that many of them are eager to share what their faith means to them. This contest was a great way to encourage more young people to open up about their faith.” Kerry Troup, spokeswoman for Faith Counts, added, “We were really pleased with the number and quality of the submissions. We hope that Film Your Faith becomes an annual event that engages young people and encourages an important national conversation on the value of faith.”
The Film Entries:
The contest drew submissions from across the country and from diverse faiths. The Top Ten Finalists included a light-hearted short film, Seva by brother and sister team Harnek and Rasna Neelam that followed a day in their life, as they charmingly stumble upon the meaning of faith. Peace Amidst Uncertainty took a more somber approach, featuring the medical challenges facing an expectant mother of twin girls.
HONORABLE MENTION, $2,500 AWARD:
Metaphors of Faith, by Andreas Peterson, is a creatively animated film that explores a personal look at what faith is and is not, to the illustrator/filmmaker.
HONORABLE MENTION, $2,500 AWARD:
I Am New by recent Abilene Christian University grad Tim Holt, is a beautifully filmed short about how faith positively changed one young woman’s life.
The Fan Favorite:
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America also got the chance to vote for their favorite Film Your Faith video on FaithCounts.com. The winning Fan Favorite video, with a prize amount of $10,000, was awarded to Utah Valley University student Austin Bagley on August 11, 2015. Turn on Your Light features a young girl recalling her reliance on God following the death of her mother and her struggles in Zimbabwe before her adoption and move to America.
The difficult task of selecting the top three prizewinners fell to a panel of judges selected by Faith Counts staff, which included national faith leaders and representatives of our faith partners: Archbishop William Lori, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops; Sumeet Kaur Bal, Sikh American Legal Defense Fund, Rabbi Joshua Bolten, Hillel International, Sister Neill Marriott and Elder Donald L. Hallstrom, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
ABOUT FAITH COUNTS
Faith Counts is a nonprofit, nondenominational organization comprised of many religious communities who represent over 100 million Americans. The mission of Faith Counts is simple: to promote the value of faith. The centerpiece of Faith Counts is a social media campaign that tells powerful stories about how faith counts—how it inspires, empowers, motivates and comforts billions of people.
Faith Counts Partners include a diverse faith community including: Sikh American Legal Defense Fund, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, Seventh-Day Adventist Church, Hillel International, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the 1st Amendment Partnership, and Franciscan University of Steubenville. All faith groups are welcome.