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That's A Wrap! 5th Anniversary Of The Waco Family & Faith International Film Festival Is A Smashing Success

Updated: May 3

Independent Film Festival Concludes 5th Year with Star-Studded Gala, Impressive Film Competition of Over 30 Films, Celebrity Golf Classic, Hollywood Workshops by Industry Executives, Its Waco Family & Faith Theater Festival and Confers Awards at Ozomatli Concert

WACO, Texas - Feb. 27, 2024 - PRLog -- The Waco Family & Faith International Film Festival unspooled its 5th Anniversary edition, February 15-18, 2024, concluding a weekend of eleven feature films and twenty-one short, student, and animated films from around the world at venues across Waco, Texas, including Art Center Waco, Bear Ridge Golf Club, the Cambria Hotel, the Pavilion at the Carleen Bright Arboretum, the historic Hippodrome Theatre, Leo Lockwood Theater, Marie's Wine Bar, and the Waco Civic Theater.

"WE DID IT!!!! We have had a tremendously successful 5th Anniversary film festival," states Film Festival Founder and President of the Board, Dr. Tyrha M. Lindsey-Warren, of the GB Lindsey Family Charitable Fund. "I am Uber proud of my film festival team and our ability to present high-quality and high-touch film festivals over the past five years. Through the global pandemic, snow, and ice storms, we have stayed true to our mission of being "dedicated to EMPOWERING the creative spirit, SERVING with heart, and CELEBRATING all!" The Waco Family & Faith International Film Festival, and its sister festivals in Nigeria, Florida, San Diego, Southlake, Texas, and HBCU educational institutions, are truly making an impact in Waco and around the world! And, I am so proud!"

Waco Family & Faith Intl. Film Festival

The festival kicked off with the black-tie "Champions Awards Gala" in the new Cambria Hotel Riverfront. In addition to honoring past awards recipients, host Kevin Sorbo (of Hercules fame) helped Lindsey-Warren hand out awards to Geena Davis (accepted by her production company executive Madeline Dinono); The Lion King on Broadway star Alton Fitzgerald White; New York Times bestselling authors Donna Grant and Virginia DeBerry; radio host Reverend Carl Stimpson; and TFNB Your Bank for Life SVP Jason Lavender. Broadway star Carter Calvert sang "Simply the Best" from the Tina Turner Musical and "Beautiful" from the Carole King Broadway show, Beautiful. Lindsey-Warren broke out into song herself, performing "He Lives In You" from The Lion King and as a tribute to 2024 Champions Award Recipient and Lion King Broadway star, Alton Fitzgerald White. The evening also introduced the organization's first class of "Community Champions," which are nonprofit organizations that are doing outstanding work and include- the Family & Faith Worship Center, Da Shack Farmer's Market, Project Lifeforce, and Grassroots Community Development. The gala concluded with a fashion show by Waco High School students and teachers as models.

On Friday, the 4th Annual Celebrity Golf Classic took place and featured Cincinnati Bengals alums Ickey Woods and Joe Kelly, and former MLB player Eric Davis, actor Kevin Sorbo, along with a few filmmakers. Later that evening, the festival's opening night film, Bobby Farrelly's heartwarming basketball dramedy starring Woody Harrelson, CHAMPIONS, filled the historic downtown Waco Hippodrome Theater with several hundred guests—along with guests of honor, the actual basketball team from the movie: Bradley Edens, Casey Metcalf, James Day Keith, Kevin Iannucci, Ashton Gunning, and Alex Hintz. The team got a standing ovation from the crowd before doing the Q&A with Dr. Lindsey-Warren.

After the screening, most of the screening guests went across Austin Avenue to Marie's Wine Bar, where they were treated to a reprise tasting from historic—yet upstart—brand Uncle Nearest and dozens of wines, charcuterie and cheese. "The Best Whiskey Maker the World Never Knew" was a Black man, Nathan "Nearest" Green, and he can rightly claim to be the godfather of Tennessee Whiskey.  Guests sampled their 1856 Premium Aged Whiskey, their 100-proof 1884 Small Batch Bourbon, and their Straight Rye.

On Saturday, movie screenings at theaters across Waco competed with a free, mid-day seminar series, "The Business of Hollywood: Filmmaker Educational Workshops," at Marie's Wine Bar for three sessions: the PitchFest, "How to Turn Your Idea Into A Film, TV, or Streaming Series," led by LostNThought Productions President and Senior Executive Consulting Producer of Development and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for A+E Factual Studios Courtney Parker; "It's All About Animation!," with The Proud Family creator Bruce Smith and its EP, Ralph Faraqhuar; and "It's Not Show Business, It's Business Show!," with media executives Endyia Kinney-Sterns and John Vilade. Later Saturday night, guests decamped to the gorgeous Pavilion at the Carleen Bright Arboretum in suburban Woodway for the 5th Anniversary Concert featuring OZOMATLI and where Lindsey-Warren handed out the film awards. Winners were as follows:

The Grand Jury Prize for Best Feature Film (U.S. and International) went to Running the Bases (USA), Marty Roberts and Jimmy Womble's story of a small-town baseball coach who gets the offer of a lifetime from a larger school, but faces opposition to his coaching methods from the school superintendent.

Grand Jury Prize for Best Animation Film (U.S. and International) was conferred upon Riley and the Wooden Sword (Sri Lanka), an award-winning, heartwarming, and inspiring animated tale brought to life by the amazing talent of four junior animators at Mogo Studios in Sri Lanka.

Waco awarded Let's Talk (Israel) the Grand Jury Prize for Best Student Film (U.S. and International). Elad Mukades' film is about making choices—in this case between lead character Ori's newly religious soldier brother who is planning to make shabbat in a deserted place, and going to be with his sick mother.

Willows (USA) claimed the Grand Prize Jury for Best Short Film (U.S. and International). Willows was in-person guest Alicia Raymond's story of two sisters in the 1950's  who must each find a way to let go of feelings of anger, hurt, and betrayal that all began with a traumatic event many years ago.

The Festival closed with a local performance of the Off-Broadway play An Adam Experiment at Waco Civic Theater. An Adam Experiment stars Michael Chenevert living a day in the life of former Harlem Congressional Representative and civil rights crusader Adam Clayton Powell Jr.

"As we close the books on our 5th Anniversary, we're committed to the movie business—and the business of movies—here in Waco. We feel our film festival brings first-rate and inspired programming to the city, amplifies under-represented voices, AND helps build our budding film and TV community." Lindsey-Warren can claim on significant victory; she introduced filmmakers Victor Hawks and Malcolm Goodwin to Waco; their Vision Vehicle Studios moved to Waco August 2020 and have shot three Waco-based films since 2021. "We'll see all y'all here next year!"

The Sponsors for the 2024 5th Anniversary of theWaco Family & Faith International Film Festival included: Founding Partner TFNB Your Bank for Life; 4th Annual Celebrity Golf Classic Sponsor Greg May Honda; Host Hotel Cambria Hotels; Kick-Off Concert Sponsor Michelle & Pete Groetzinger; Awards Sponsor Waco Central Texas Chapter of The Links, Incorporated; Gold Star Sponsors Brazos Masonry, Creative Waco, Stay in Waco, and Waco Tourism Public Improvement District; Silver Star Sponsors AARP Texas, The Afshar Law Firm, Discover Woodway, Marie's Wine Bar, Wacoan, and Z's at the Curry; Bronze Star Sponsors Extraco Banks, H-E-B, ISW Holdings, LostNThought Productions, Vision Vehicle Studios, and Waco Convention & Visitors Bureau; Community Sponsors Adobe, Dutch Bros Coffee, Pampers, Texas Motion Picture Alliance, Texas State Technical College, Tiff's Treats, Tru Jamaica, Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey, and WPROMO; and Media Partners CW12 Central Texas, Classic Rock 106.7, KWTX News 10, La Ley 104.1, Latino 93.5 y 99.1, POWER 108FM, and Telemundo Central Texas.

For more information on the 5th Anniversary of the Waco Family & Faith Interanational Film Festival and future events, visit


L.A.I. Communications


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