Top awards in Transforming Stories International Film Festival

Scene from "My Last Day Without You", which earned the prestigious Jonahre Award in the 2011 Transforming Stories Film Festival

The winning films entered into the 2011 Transforming Stories International Film Festival were announced in Pretoria recently. The annual competition was launched in Cape Town in 2010 and this year attracted 181 entries from 19 countries on five continents.

The top awards went to:
Music Videos: “Wholehearted”
Short Films: “The Desperate”
Documentary Films: “The Dawn of a New Day”
Feature Films: “Billy- The Early Years of Billy Graham”
Jonahre Award: “My Last Day Without You

Cape Town-born Christine Gunn-Danforth, founder of Jonahre, traveled from the United States to personally award the prestigious Jonahre Award, regarded as the Academy Award equivalent for Christian films.

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Moviegoers in Gauteng and Stellenbosch will have an opportunity to view 15 selected feature films and 15 selected documentaries from the festival as follows:

  • Maxi Cineplex- Pretoria North, from March 1 to March 31.
  • Africa Sky Cinema, Gauteng, from January to March 31 at churches in Gauteng. (African Sky shows movies on a large mobile big screen.)
  • Neelsie Cinema- Neelsie Centre,  Stellenbosch, for two weeks in February (to be confirmed).

Topics addressed in the films at the special festival showings include mission work in various nations; the
increasing number of people in extreme poverty; the issue of disease especially HIV / AIDS and the amazing work
being done by Christians; the fight against human trafficking, prostitution and abortion; and persecution facing
Christians in the world today.

The purpose of the festival is to showcase powerful, inspiring, faith affirming, evangelistic, transforming stories in the form of film to the world and the Body of Christ. “We want to emphasise how the power of storytelling can impact the lives of people and shape a specific culture,” says the organisers on their website.

Two of the five top award winning movies at the Transforming Stories Film Festival are South African productions. The winning worship video, Wholehearted, was produced by Cape Town production company Empty Canvas Productions and features the debut album of Every Nation Church in Somerset West. (See the video on youtube  below:


And the winning documentary, The Dawn Of A New Day, was produced by Marie-Vérité Films of Johannesburg and deals with access to health care issues through the eyes of three West Africans in need of specialised surgery.

The winner in the short film category, Desperate,  has already won numerous awards for Iranian Jewish filmmaker Ben Hur Sepher , including the best short film at the 2010 Hollywood Film Festival. It is a heart-wrenching film featuring an eminent Jewish surgeon imprisoned at a Nazi concentration camp during World War II who is conscripted at gunpoint to perform emergency surgery on the son of a fearsome Nazi general.

The other two winners are both US productions. The winning feature film, Billy – The Early Years Of Billy Graham, was filmed in Tennessee, and reveals  Billy Graham as an earnest and promising young man at the crossroads of faith and doubt, ultimately facing the moment of decision that launched one of history’s most powerful evangelistic careers. Jonarhe Award winner My Last Day Without You, was produced by Cicala Filmworks and Silver Shepherd and was directed by Stephen Schaeffer. It features a  German business executive, who on a one-day business trip in Brooklyn, falls in love with a singer-songwriter who exposes him to her Brooklyn world and emotions he has never experienced before.

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