Waco festival merges film, family, faith

Rewon Shimray | Opinion Editor

By Andie Chilson | Reporter

The Waco Family & Faith International Film Festival provides a platform for films and artists who are working to integrate faith and spirituality into the contemporary film industry.

The inaugural festival began on Thursday and will run until Saturday in locations across Baylor’s campus, in churches around the Waco community as well as the Waco Hippodrome Theatre.

The festival is working to achieve its mission of “empowering the creative spirit, serving with heart & celebrating all,” according to its website, by inviting a diverse group of artists and directors from across the country to screen their films at the festival.

One such director, Los Angeles resident Nicole Thompson, has two films featured in the festival: “Blackbird” and “Harlem Blues.”

“I’m so excited to have a venue to share my work,” Thompson said.

The festival showcases films rooted in family and faith while also hosting a breadth of ideas and diverse backgrounds.

Thompson said both of her films draw from personal experience in some capacity, but her film “Blackbird” is unique.

“Blackbird is really important to me because it honors my grandmother,” Thompson said. “I wanted to make a film that showcases the everyday people … that also have a dream.”

There will be a question-and-answer session with Thompson after the screening of each of her films during which she will have the chance to share the personal nature of her work.

Founder and lead producer of the Waco Family & Faith International Film Festival, Tyhra M. Lindsey-Warren is a personal mentor of Thompson’s and she encouraged Thompson to submit her work to the festival.

“I was very lucky to have my film selected to screen, I know that there were a lot of phenomenal films that were submitted,” Thompson said.

Los Angeles resident Katie Mae Peters is another director whose work will be featured at the festival. Peters’ film “In Utero” is a sci-fi drama that tells the story of three sisters who are faced with the end of the world.

“Our film is all about trying to increase diversity,” Peters said. “[The writers and actors] are all black, so we were trying to focus heavily on that community, which is awesome, because it’s not something you see enough of.”

In addition to screening over 70 national and international films, the festival also offers a series of workshops and performances by artists such as flutist Melinda Adams and DJ Augie.

The Waco Faith & Family International Film Festival distinguishes itself from other film festivals in its emphasis on faith.

Faith and film soul sessions will be held at churches around Waco following the screenings that will give audience members a chance to discuss the themes of faith and spirituality in the films. Topics discussed during these sessions include overcoming fear and doubt as well as the concept of eternal love.

For more information about the Waco Family & Faith International Film Festival, visit its website www.wacofamilyandfaithfilmfestival.com or follow the festival on Facebook, Instagram @wacofamilyandfaithfilmfestival and Twitter @WacoFilmFest.