WACO FAMILY & FAITH INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
Thursday's cold and icy weather forced some changes in the festival after this story was published. The Celebrity Golf Classic planned for Thursday morning and Thursday night's Champions Award reception have been moved to Topgolf Waco, 2301 Creekview Drive, at 11:15 a.m. Friday with a shotgun start at 11:30 a.m. Other festival events and screenings will continue as planned. The Waco Family & Faith International Film Festival could teach its own lessons about persevering through faith, returning for a third year after COVID-19 precautions moved much of last year's festival to outdoor screenings at local churches. This year, the festival marks a third year and a theater home at the new Cinemark Waco multiplex, where the festival's Opening Night screenings will take place as well as six screening blocks on Saturday. That puts a smile on the face of festival founder and organizer Tyrha Lindsey-Warren. "It's always been my goal to have a movie theater home and this will be it," she said. "I just love a full-blown experience." That experience isn't limited to film, either. There's a Film, Style and Fashion Show with designer Deborah Koenigsberger on Friday, a "Women Empowering Women" panel discussion and Waco premiere of the syndicated TV show "Café Mocha TV" on Saturday, a Waco Civic Theatre play "Having Our Say" later in February and a Celebrity Golf Classic on Friday at Topgolf. Even though icy weather may be a wild card, this year's multifaceted festival comes closer to the vision of Lindsey-Warren, a Baylor University clinical assistant marketing professor with a rich background in film, theater and marketing, complete with extensive industry contacts. She felt a Family & Faith festival would offer a way to spotlight films and programs that were family-friendly or had a spirituality component, plus recognize those individuals creating that material. Innovators, champions The festival's annual Champions Award does the latter, honoring those who are "exemplars of innovation as well as disruption in the film and entertainment industry." This year's winners, to be recognized Thursday night at a reception held at the new Art Center Waco, are:
Music industry professionals Vivian Scott-Chew and Ray Chew. She's founder of TimeZone International; he's a music director, composer and producer who's worked each season with ABC's "Dancing With the Stars" in addition to past work with "Showtime at the Apollo" and the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade.
Actor-singer-director John Schneider, best known for his role in the 1990s television series "Dukes of Hazzard" but with multiple film and television performances since then, including Tyler Perry's "The Haves and Have Nots." Schneider writes and directs films and has built John Schneider Studios in Holden, Louisiana, to provide independent filmmakers a filming location.
Waco broadcast/news personality and singer Ann Harder. Recently retired from a long broadcast news career with Waco's KXXV-TV, Harder produces a podcast and videocasts of stories of area interest. She's active in several community nonprofits and often sings at public and church events.
Fashion designer Deborah Koenigsberger, creator of the Manhattan boutique Noir et Blanc. She also founded the nonprofit Hearts of Gold, which works with homeless single mothers and their children.
Festival screenings include 10 feature films, 16 short films and eight animated shorts, curated from more than 150 entries and representing the United States, the Czech Republic, South Korea, Brazil, Great Britain, the Bahamas, Iran, France, Russia Federation and Belgium. "We continue to be blown away with the quality of work from around the world," she said. Many of the screenings will take place at Film & Faith Soul Sessions held Saturday at Toliver Chapel Missionary Baptist Church, Greater Zion Missionary Baptist Church and First Woodway Baptist Church. Schneider Features screening on Opening Night are John Schneider's "Poker Run," Shemane Nugent's "Killer House" and a sneak peek of the comedy series "Fairwood!" on the streaming service Crackle. Festival highlights include:
"Killer House" by Waco's Shemane Nugent. The short documentary recounts the experience Shemane and her husband Ted Nugent had when toxic mold appeared in their dream house, once featured on "MTV Cribs."
Shemane Nugent's “Killer House” feature tackles toxic mold. "Honestly, I felt God nudging me to make the documentary and tell our story so we could educate others about the devastating and deadly effects of toxic mold," Nugent said, noting that mold found in their home affected her health and that of her husband and son Rocco. "Every day I receive dozens of messages on social media with people asking — begging — for help. People are suffering and I want to share what happened to us so that others might be able to recognize similar health symptoms or what could happen with water leaks or faulty building." For those who can't make the Friday screening, "Killer House" will be available Feb. 15 at killerhouse.org, which also will have information on identifying, remediating and recovery from toxic mold illness. The documentary "A Life's Work" features Baylor University professor Bob Darden and the Black Gospel Music Restoration Project.
The documentary "A Life's Work," which features Baylor University professor Bob Darden and his creation of Baylor's Black Gospel Music Restoration Project. He's one of several profiled for their efforts in establishing a work that will live after them.
A sneak peek of "Fairwood!," a comedy series on the streaming service Crackle. The series follows two overly positive brothers who are small-town entertainers and talk show hosts caught up in defending their town against the exploitative Pentalode Corporation. "Fairwood!" will air later this spring on the streaming platform, part of Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment.
The Waco premiere of "Café Mocha TV" with discussion by executive producer Sheila Eldridge, radio personality Dede McGuire and TV/pop culture commentator Jawn Murray.
The Chews' music documentary "Two Beats, One Soul," about the making of a jazz album in Cuba. It closes the festival screenings at 6:15 p.m. Saturday at Cinemark Waco.
Opening night tickets are $10 with tickets for Cinemark screenings available online at wacofilmfest.org. Film & Faith Soul Sessions screenings are free as is admission for children 10 and younger. Waco Family & Faith International Film Festival schedule
Friday 11:15 a.m. — Champions Award Reception, Topgolf Waco, 2301 Creekview Drive 11:30 a.m. — Golf classic, shotgun start 5-7 p.m. — Film, Style & Fashion Show, Z's at the Curry, 611 Washington Ave. 7 p.m. — Opening night films, "Poker Run," "Killer House" and "Fairwood!," Cinemark Waco, 2400 Creekview Drive
Saturday 12:30-2:30 p.m. — Film & Faith Soul Sessions, Toliver Chapel Missionary Baptist Church, 1402 Elm Ave., and Greater Zion Missionary Baptist Church, 2625 S. 18th St. 1-3 p.m — Screenings, Theater A, Cinemark Waco, 2400 Creekview Drive. 2-4 p.m. — Screenings, Theater B, Cinemark Waco, 2400 Creekview Drive. 4:30-6 p.m. — Women Empowering Women, "Cafe Mocha TV" premiere, Theater B, Cinemark Waco. 6-8 p.m. — Film & Faith Soul Sessions, First Woodway Baptist Church, 101 Ritchie Road. 6-8 p.m. — Screenings, Theater A, Cinemark Waco. 6:15-8 p.m. — Screenings, Theater B, Cinemark Waco. 8:30-10 p.m. — Closing Night reception and awards ceremony, Pivovar restaurant, 320 S. Eighth St.