Winners of the inaugural Film Your Faith video contest have been announced. The announcement took place Friday, August 28, 2015, at the annual conference of the Religion Newswriters Association in Philadelphia.
The video contest sponsored by Faith Counts, a nonprofit, nondenominational organization comprised of many religious communities, called for two-minute videos showcasing faith in a positive light.
“Faith Counts and this contest are relevant ways to recognize and celebrate the important contributions of religion and faith,” said Archbishop William Lori of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, who was on the judges’ panel. “Every single day, people engage in large and small acts of faith that greatly benefit our society and help the most vulnerable amongst us.”
Carlos Cuervo of Miami, Florida, accepted the $20,000 grand prize award for his submission “Without Walls,” which brings to life the work of a small faith-based charity ministering to the homeless. “I was so surprised and so happy when I found out I won the grand prize!” said Cuervo. “The reason I got into filmmaking is because I thought I could do something positive through it, and this has proved that for me.”
“I am so pleased to be part of this great initiative aimed at promoting faith,” stated Elder Donald L. Hallstrom of the Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “Seeing the winner accept the award was an affirmation that young people truly do understand the profound good that faith accomplishes.”
Two filmmakers were also given honorable mentions, each receiving a $2,500 award. “Metaphors of Faith” by Andreas Peterson is a creatively animated film that explores a personal look at what faith is and is not. “I Am New” by recent Abilene Christian University grad Tim Holt is a beautifully filmed short about how faith positively changed one young woman’s life.
In addition, people were able to vote for their favorite video on FaithCounts.com. The winning fan favorite video, with a prize amount of $10,000, was awarded to Utah Valley University student Austin Bagley on August 11, 2015. “Turn on Your Light” features a young girl recalling her reliance on God following the death of her mother and her struggles in Zimbabwe before her adoption and move to America.
Elder Hallstrom and Sister Neill F. Marriott, second counselor in the Church’s Young Women general presidency, were part of the interfaith judges’ panel, which included Archbishop Lori of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Sumeet Kaur Bal of the Sikh American Legal Defense Fund and Rabbi Joshua Bolten, representing Hillel International.
Faith Counts partners include a diverse faith community, including Sikh American Legal Defense Fund, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, Seventh-Day Adventist Church, Hillel International, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the 1st Amendment Partnership, and Franciscan University of Steubenville.
Since its 2014 founding, Faith Counts has reached millions of people using multiple social media platforms to promote the value of faith in society.