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This weekend, Hollywood insiders reach out to all Americans at Life Fest, the premier pro-life film festival for mainstream filmmakers. One major motion picture producer told WND that he will surprise the crowd with an exclusive screening of scenes from his upcoming feature scheduled for theaters this fall. After all, movies make a huge impact on American culture – and the world.
Life Fest will take place at the Los Angeles Convention Center with a lineup including Clint Howard and Charlie Holliday – actors beyond the big screen. Actresses Mell Flynn and Deborah Flora, as well as her husband, filmmaker Jonathan Flora, have leading roles. And Alfonzo Rachel of Macho Sauce Productions will add spice to the mix.
Life Fest is the brainchild of Brian Johnston, director of the Sacramento-based California ProLife Council.
“There are many pro-life people in the entertainment industry. I’ve been personally concerned about the dramatic cultural changes over the last 10 to 15 years through television and film,” he explained. “But the most important message is what made Hollywood a success: that every human life has value.
“If you look back at the history of Hollywood, all of the great films underscore the significance of an individual’s life. They are the stories of individuals who were seemingly insignificant, even opposed by others, but were able to their change their own destinies and the destinies of all the lives they touched,” said Johnston. “Our goal is to restore that message in entertainment and I think this is something that has to happen.”
Jonathan Flora, who works for a major Hollywood production company, also has produced independent features. For example, his company Lamplight Entertainment made “Lt. Dan Band: For the Common Good,” about Gary Sinise’ tours entertaining U.S. military troops and officers.
Flora told WND about Life Fest. He said, “Friday is a casual meet-and-greet with filmmakers. Saturday we screen films, hold panel discussions and the awards ceremony.
“This is the first festival like this – in California, in Hollywood – and we’re taking it one step at time. I really appreciate the vision of Life Fest. The reason that few [life-affirming] movies get made is because people don’t want to push against the wave. Hollywood is a very liberal place and that mindset dominates the projects that get made.
“We’re showing that it’s OK to come out – pro-life filmmakers have to come out in spite of the pushback you’ll get from the industry. It’s the new coming out,” Flora mused. “If Hollywood’s all about the voice of the story, then they should be willing to listen to all of the voices.”
Hundreds of films have been entered in the Life Fest contest.
“Like Dandelion Dust,” the Bobby Downes film starring Academy Award winner Mira Sorvino, and Barry Pepper (“Saving Private Ryan”), is one of the accepted Feature competitors. Submission categories also include Script Competition; Shorts; Short Shorts; and Commercial/Mobile Shorts.
David Kyle, previously interviewed by WND, submitted his documentary “Blood Money,” featuring prominent pro-life activist Alveda King, niece of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
Life Fest’s Saturday events essentially open and close with the Floras. Saturday morning, Jonathan greets everyone at the screening of one of his films, and Deborah emcees the awards ceremony on Saturday night.
The couple praised Johnston for his passion and timing in promoting the beauty and dignity of human life through entertainment.
“The celebration of life is becoming such a prevalent topic in our culture, whether people are pro-choice or pro-life or not sure, I think that everyone is trying to have a healthy discussion about how we value life: Is it quantity? Is it quality? What is it based upon?” Deborah Flora reflected.
“If you capture people’s imaginations, they will talk and the conversation will be brought out of an area fraught with landmines,” she said.
“There’s a great quote by Plato, who says, ‘Let me write the ballads of a country, I care not to make the laws.’ The ballads of a country are the stories that are told, and the stories that are told in our country are primarily through film.”
Jonathan Flora said that serving people through the film industry is a great privilege, then pondered his final judgment by God.
He said, “We are called to do certain things and we are going to be held accountable for what we do, but also for what we don’t do. I don’t want to get to heaven and [merely] hear ‘not bad.'”
Registration for Life Fest remains open and Johnston welcomes everyone.
He said, “If people have eyes to see, they can see the value of life all around them. So our goal is to encourage people to take on those eyes – to see these deeper issues in life.”