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Posted 15 Oct 2001   For week ended October 05, 2001
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Sent on Mormon-News: 05Oct01

By Kent Larsen

Planned LDS Film Festival Trying to Broaden Audience for Films

PROVO, UTAH -- In the wake of the success of "God's Army," the film that showed there is an audience for LDS films, BYU film student Christian Vuissa, 31, is trying to show that audience the variety in the work of LDS film makers. Vuissa has formed a non-profit venture,, to hold the first International Young Latter-day Saint Film &Video Festival 2001.

The idea is simple. is holding the festival to showcase the work of young LDS film makers and screenwriters, letting them meet each other, exchange ideas and develop collaborations. In the process, he hopes to show their work to an broader audience of non-film makers.

Prior to the success of "God's Army," the idea might have seemed silly, because few people believed that LDS film makers had a unique audience. But now, with at least 20 films in production or being planned, and a number of LDS film makers like Richard Dutcher, Keith Merrill, Lee Groberg and Don Bluth who have achieved a high profile among the LDS audience, Vuissa's idea doesn't seem so far fetched.

Plans for the festival are built around a contest that will choose the best film and best screenplay submitted to the festival. Of course, the best of the films will be shown and awards for first, second and third prizes, as well as honorable mentions, will be made in each category. Winners will receive cash prizes. Other events during the festival may include a panel discussion on films made by LDS film makers and a retrospective of some of the early films made by LDS Church members.

But Vuissa recognizes that the festival will need to reach out to get to its audience. He hopes to put together a traveling exhibit of the festival, essentially staging the festival in different locations around the US and the World, especially in the hometowns of those whose films are shown. He already expects to show the films in Europe, and expects to make arrangements to show the films in California and in New York.

Vuissa is a native of Austria, and says credits his experiences there, before he joined the LDS Church, with giving him the background for this idea. Before joining the church, Vuissa was already trying to find ways to bring artists together. Film, as a medium, he says, already brings artists together, because it uses the work of so many different kinds of artists, from the scriptwriters to costume and set designers, to musicians.

While the plans for the festival are falling into place, there's a lot of work to be done. is still looking for qualified judges, in addition to submissions of films (up to 30 minutes in length) and screenplays by the October 15th deadline. Vuissa believes he has a venue to show the films, but is still looking for sponsors to help cover the costs of the festival.

The goal of all this, says Vuissa, is to develop LDS film makers and show their variety. By seeing this variety and letting LDS artists work together, something uniquely LDS can arise. "Religion is such a strong part of our lives that if we portray things in an honest and sincere way, the spiritual aspect of the theme should fall into place automatically," he adds.


Mormon News interview with Christian Vuissa

Feature Films by Latter-day Saint Filmmakers

Film, video festival to provide a medium for LDS, non-LDS art
BYU NewsNet 27Sep01 A4
By Summer Mull: NewsNet Staff Writer


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