By Carl Hoover for Waco Tribune-Herold | Original Article Here
The Waco Family & Faith International Film Festival marks its fifth year next week with a sigh of relief as well as shout of celebration.
After debuting in February 2020, the festival had to deal with pandemic disruptions, a bout of icy winter weather and changing locations, all of which made momentum hard to build from year to year. Oh, and founder and lead organizer Tyrha Lindsey-Warren and her husband also had their first child during that period.
"It has not been easy bring this festival to life year after year," she acknowledged.
The festival begins its fifth year and four-day run on Feb. 15 with familiar events such as the Champions Award Gala, the Celebrity Golf Classic, a "Business of Hollywood" pitch-fest and three days of film screenings, as well as many of the stars and honorees of past years returning.
The festival and its related activities will take place at the Waco Hippodrome Theatre, Art Center Waco, the Lee Lockwood Library and Museum, and the Waco Civic Theatre as well as new venues Cambria Hotel and Marie's Wine Bar.
The festival not only has promoted family and inspirational films, but entrepreneurship, empowerment and community involvement, said Lindsey-Warren, a Baylor University associate professor of marketing and event/television/film producer.
Waco Family & Faith International Film Festival founder and lead organizers Tyrha Lindsey-Warren.
Those elements play a factor in the Champions Awards Gala, the black tie event that kicks off the festival Feb. 15. This year's honorees include bestselling authors Donna Grant and Virginia DeBerry; Broadway actor Alton Fitzgerald White ("The Lion King's" longest-running Mufasa); Geena Davis and Madeline Di Nonno of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media; the Rev. Carlton D. Stimpson, pastor of the Open Door Church of God in Christ; and TFNB Your Bank for Life senior vice president Jason Lavender.
New this year is a community component to the Champions awards, with Waco organizations Family of Faith Worship Center, The Shack, Grassroots Community Development and Project Life recognized for their contributions. This year's gala, held at the Cambria Hotel, also will feature past Champions, including actor Kevin Sorbo and music director and composer Ray Chew ("Dancing With the Stars").
CHAMPIONS - Official Trailer [HD] - Only In Theaters March 10 // via Focus Features on YouTube
The festival's Celebrity Golf Classic, held at Bear Ridge Golf Club, will take place Feb. 16 with Opening Night at the Movies that night at the Waco Hippodrome, capped by a screening of the Woody Harrelson-Ernie Hudson movie "Champions."
The Feb. 17 and 18 schedules feature film screenings at the Hippodrome, the Lee Lockwood Library and Art Center Waco. Interspersed with the screenings are a film industry pitch-fest with Courtney Parker, Bruce W. Smith, Endyia Sterns and John Vilade at Marie's Wine Bar, and appearances and discussions with authors Grant and DeBerry, and filmmakers Nicole Thompson and The Bergamot (Jillian Speece and Nathaniel Hoff).
Los Angeles-based world music band Ozomatli returns to perform at 8 p.m. Feb. 17 at the Carleen Bright Arboretum in Woodway in a separately ticketed concert while the Feb. 18 schedule features actor Michael Chenevert reprising his one-man show on groundbreaking and controversial Black New York Congressman Adam Clayton Powell Jr., "An Adam Experiment," at 2 p.m. at the Waco Civic Theatre, also a separately ticketed event.
Los Angeles world music band Ozomatli returns to Waco for a Waco Family & Faith International Film Festival-related concert Feb. 17 at the Carleen Bright Arboretum in Woodway.
Lisa Johnson, provided
Lindsey-Warren said over the last five years, the festival has been more than a platform and showcase for family-oriented and inspirational films. Film producers Victor Hawks and Malcolm Goodwin, participants in the first festival, relocated their Vision Vehicle Productions to Waco and have produced four films here since then, she noted. The festival's summer community backpack giveaway and barbecue has also met the needs of hundreds of Waco school -age students. Festival connections will bring the New York-based Dancing to Connect dance company to Waco this summer, she said, and the Waco film festival has served as model for similar family/faith film festivals in Florida, Nigeria, San Diego and Southlake, Texas, as well as one emphasizing historically Black colleges and universities.
The festival's first year drew about 2,000 attendees and organizers are hoping this year's celebration will match or surpass that number. "Be ready to meet celebrities and meet your neighbors at the screenings," Lindsey-Warren said.
Waco Family & Faith International Film Festival
When, where: Feb. 15-18 at various locations, including the Waco Hippodrome, Lee Lockwood Library and Museum, Art Center Waco, Carleen Bright Arboretum, Waco Civic Theatre, Cambria Hotel and Marie's Wine Bar.
Admission: $150 for the Feb. 15 Champions Gala, $35 for all-access movie pass, $10 for opening night movies and $5 for film blocks Feb. 17-18. Tickets and full schedule available at wacofamilyandfaithfilmfestival.com.