While the world tuned in to see which Hollywood films merit a golden statuette for excellence in everything from acting to make-up, a much smaller group attending the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival honored films that go beyond entertainment and truly make a difference in the world.
This recent gathering of independent Christian filmmakers gave testament to God’s work through His people, making a big impact, no matter the size of the budget.
Absent the pageantry, glitz and massive budget of their Hollywood peers, these Christian filmmakers are moved to produce motion pictures that give voice to the heart.
It was no surprise to many then that the 2013 Grand Prize winner for the “Best of Festival” film went to the documentary “The Drop Box,” directed by 22-year old Brian Ivie.
This moving film tells the story about a Korean Pastor named Lee Jong-rak who built a hatch on his house to collect unwanted and oftentimes disabled babies.
Ivie heard about Pastor Jong-rak’s efforts through a Los Angeles Times article and was determined to document the pastor’s story in the hopes of bringing him support and giving a “voice to the voiceless.”
The producer of “Fireproof” and “Courageous,” Stephen Kendrick, who was also a judge for the festival, compared Ivie to the Old Testament hero and man of action Nehemiah, who heard about the crumbling walls in his beloved Jerusalem and did something about it.
“Many times, we are moved with compassion and do nothing,” Kendrick noted.
He then relayed how young Ivie heard about one man’s effort to love and rescue the unloved and unwanted and decided, “I am going to run to the battle.”
Ivie embarked with his team on a journey to chronicle the dedication of this Korean pastor, who since installing this “drop box” on his home to give people a place to leave their babies instead of on the street, has taken in over 30 children.
Little did Ivie know his journey over this past year also led him to a saving faith in Jesus, while documenting a living example of pure religion as defined by James, the brother of Jesus, who 2,000 years ago wrote in James 1:27, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
Ivie accepted the award, along with a check for $101,000 by demonstrating humility.
“I deified movies for 21 years of my life, and I made them my god, and it failed me,” he said. “I’m done with that story. I’m done with that idol. And I promise in the fear of God that I will steward this investment, because I would rather tell the plainest truth with $100,000 than the most sophisticated technological lie with 10 million dollars or 100 hundred million dollars.”
“The Drop Box” was also recognized earlier in the awards ceremony for the “Best Sanctity of Life” award.
His acceptance speech for the two distinguished honors prompted some to point out that such a God-honoring homage would never be uttered by a Hollywood elite while accepting a coveted Oscar.
Vision Forum Ministries, which says it aims to build a “holy alternative to Hollywood”, wrote in a press release, “If you were waiting on Sunday to hear one of Hollywood’s elite utter words like these while receiving the coveted Oscar, you waited in vain.
“But if you were one of the approximately 25,000 people who watched the Jubilee Awards in person or on live-streaming and saw 22-year-old Brian Ivie receive $101,000 for his profound homage to the power of the Gospel in reaching out to lost and unwanted children, then you watched history in the making,” the release continued. “You saw with your eyes the blessing of God on a rag-tag movement of independent Christian filmmakers who are working outside the Hollywood machine and changing the world.”
Video of Ivie’s “Best Sanctity of Life” acceptance speech can be seen below:
Video of Ivie’s “Best of Festival” acceptance speech can be seen below:
Another judge for the Independent Christian Film Festival, Curtis Bowers, also said of Ivie, “That’s a young man we want to invest in, because he’s going to change the world with his films.”
In recounting his recent journey to become a Christian, Ivie recounted for the audience his epiphany while watching these young kids that no one wanted.
“I saw all these kids come through this drop box with deformities and disabilities, and eventually – like a heaven flash – I realized that I was one of those kids too; that I have a crooked soul, and God is a father who loves me still,” Ivie said.
He then challenged the audience with a call to total surrender to God, much like these orphans: “This world is so much about self-reliance and self-esteem, self-worth, and these kids . . . can’t be self-reliant, because they have these disabilities.
“The total illusion is that we can be self-reliant,” Ivie said, “because we rely on God for every breath that we take. And the day that we stop realizing that we are disabled is the day that we stop fighting for Christ as the only one who enables.”
Sen. Rick Santorum also attended the awards ceremony and commended the SAICFF for their role in the culture wars.
“You are the ones who shape the culture, and Washington, D.C., is simply a reflection of that,” said Santorum. “So I just wanted to come here to encourage you and to thank you. . . . This country needs you.”
Ivie assured the audience that he plans to continue the fight and press on with the help of God.
For more information on the film, “The Drop Box,” or to watch the film trailer, click here.