Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival, Part 2

We went to the last day of the film festival a bit later than the other days, missing the first hour and a half. We watched Live to Forgive in the large auditorium in the Municipal building. This was an amazing true story of a man who forgives and meets with his step-dad after he murdered his mom. We didn't agree with all the theology, exactly, and I didn't like some of the loud, rocky music, but otherwise it was very interesting.

Next we went to the other building to see Dispatches from the Front: A Bold Advance, which tugged at my heart, as well. We missed the first few minutes of it. The writing and filming were beautiful...but even more so was the love shown to others in countries where the gospel had not yet been given. The Christian converts in these countries shone with their love and words about Christ. We should be praying for them...and learning from their examples.

We broke for lunch after that; all three of us went to the food court in the mall.

Then we went to R.C. Sproul, Jr.'s lecture, where Mrs. Morecraft and her daughter, Mercy, were to announce the winners of her writing contest. I saw the Verrets and Lauren Bleser there, and sat next to them. Lauren said she'd cheer really loud for me and embarrass me if I won. :) I said I'd be embarrassed if I had to go up and say anything. Mercy did some funny country acting (pretending to be "Cousin Bertha Jean"). Then all the names of the winners were called, starting from the youngest category. As the list grew, including some ties, I grew more hopeful that my name might be among them. But no. Three of our friends/church members had won something, but not me. I was disappointed. It is in God's providence, though, and I'm sure it will help to keep my easily puffed-up ego deflated. I'm still writing poetry, though. It will always be something I enjoy, whether anyone else thinks it's good or not.

Annie and I had been thinking of leaving after the announcement to go see something else, but we decided to stay, as it was already pretty far into the hour and we thought it might be an interesting lecture. It was called "Where is God in Your Movie?" We are not really interested in becoming film-makers, but it was a good lecture in many ways. I could apply it to my writing, and life in general. I wasn't sure if I agreed 100% with everything he said, but the gist of it was good.

After that, we stayed to hear Kevin Swanson lecture on "Humor in the Family." It was good--not so humorous as it was thought-provoking. Our humor needs to be "attacking" what is bad, and endearing us to what is good, not the other way around, as some humor is.

In the break from 5:30 (? - our lectures went late, but I'm not sure how late) to 7:30, we went with Lauren to the mall's food court again. Lauren's new friend, Cindy, was there alone, so she joined us, though she had already eaten. Annie and Andy didn't join us at the round table, so I sat with just Lauren and Cindy. (My siblings didn't mean to be rude.) We talked as we ate, and I listened much of the time. Lauren and Cindy were talking about their pasts and conversions. I chimed in after Cindy's testimony, "That's how I was." And I told a little more about it.

Then they launched into a discussion on daughters staying home, as in the book So Much More.

After that, Andrew and Annie came over. We still had some time left before the Closing Ceremonies, so we headed to the Starbucks in the mall we were in and all (I think) ordered Pumpkin Spice Lattes (Annie and I shared one.) As I was waiting in line, I told Cindy a little more of my background and my dad, how he had died of cancer yet stayed strong in the Lord to the end, and how this had been in some ways helpful to me.

We talked some more as we gave them a ride in our van over to the other building. We were now talking about the churches we attended.

We separated. We met Mr. and Mrs. Marcic there and sat with them, though Annie didn't come until later because she was an usher. The closing ceremonies started with some ads for sponsors, I believe, or prayer, and singing. Mrs. Morecraft had sung in the opening ceremonies, and now the Salters/Amy Salter Rutherford played and sang. George Sarris also did his second Biblical dramatization--Jonah was the first one the night before (?) and this time it was Naaman the leper. I really enjoy those, the enthusiasm and character he puts into it.

Finally, the finalists and winners were announced! Not surprisingly, The Runner from Ravenshead won the Audience Choice award. The grand prize winner was Agenda: Grinding America Down. I was happy for them, and touched by their God-honoring story of praying and fasting and by the man's humility.

After the ceremonies, I got to have my photo taken with the little girl who played The Runner from Ravenshead. She seems as sweet as she looks. :) I also got my picture taken with Cindy B., the one I talked with earlier. I am glad to have met her. She is really sweet.

The next day, we went to the convention center for church services. Saw the Verrets again. We sat with the Marcics during the service. The preacher was Mr. Scott Brown, and he did an excellent job, on blessings and curses from Deuteronomy.

After the service and saying some goodbyes to our dear friends the Verrets and the Marcics, we headed home. Shortly thereafter, we left for the Sarratts' house, where we had a scrumptious meal. There were many other families with us. Annie and I sat and talked much of the time with Shanna Strackbein, who is easy to talk with and very sweet. She asked me about my writing, and we talked about Dickens and other books and movies. The Strackbein sisters and Shorts were talking about driving, and their trust in God even after being in some wrecks and close calls was encouraging.

On Tuesday, we had the Deamers over, along with a friend of theirs from Pennsylvania, who is a piano tuner, and his niece, Courtney. Annie and I got along well with Courtney, who is a soft-spoken but personable young lady. We had a supper of pot roast, potatoes, carrots, and a tossed salad, with chocolate cake for dessert. I was doing my share of talking during the meal, since Mr. Deamer was asking me some questions. Not that I took up all the conversation, or anything, but I was talking more than I usually do, at least during meals.

After supper (and a bit before supper, too), their friend, Michael, worked on tuning our baby grand piano. He said it was long overdue for a tuning. (When he was finished, the piano sounded much better--it had been more out of tune than we had realized! He also fixed the squeak that the soft pedal would always make when you lift your foot off.)

Annie, Courtney, and I talked and drank peppermint/chamomile tea together. Again, Dickens was mentioned. Courtney has some things in common with me, like liking to write.

I'm so thankful to God for such godly and caring friends, more than I ever had before. And for the peace that passes all understanding. :) I've been reading over some of my old journals lately, and I can see how fearful, inward-focused, and aimless I was before. Praise God for His sanctifying work day by day!

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Old Living-room

Painting by Hugo Engl

I wrote this using a word association exercise given in Mrs. Morecraft's online writing class. Based on my early days in NY.

The Old Living-room
by Melissa M.

Our living-room was large but old,
A hundred years or more, I'm told;
Across the carpet in the dark,
We'd rub fast to cause a spark.

On that same floor 'most every day
We'd kneel beside the couch to pray.
My father's deep, resounding words
Shed light on the verses we'd heard.

Dad taught there on the first of each week
As we gathered to hear him speak.
His voice was warm, impassioned, strong,
And our voices blended, too, in song.

They would set up a table on heavy wheels
And there we ate many agape meals.
Grandma brought pie or salad without fail,
We laughed and shared, discussed each detail.

My mom taught me phonics, the basics to read--
I sounded them out and followed her lead--
Read of spotted dogs and puffy cats;
Of little red hens wearing floppy straw hats!

My brothers chased, my sisters played,
My dad and mom and everyone prayed.
This was how our family began to bloom,
And it all happened in the old living-room.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival, Part 1

We missed the first morning & afternoon of the film festival, since Andrew had to work and we had no way of getting there. But it was okay with us, since most of the films at that time we weren't too excited about, or could see them later when they repeated. Grace took us in for the opening ceremonies at 6:30.

We spotted the Marcic family there (friends of ours from FL), and we greeted them but sat in different places.

There were some trailers for the upcoming films, and then Mr. Botkin spoke on how to evaluate Hollywood films. It was really good. Much of it I'd known before, but some of it surprised me a little. They talked about the films Finding Nemo, One Night With the King, and Love's Unending Legacy, all of which I have seen and thought were fairly decent, though not perfect. My favorite of the three would probably be Finding Nemo for its animation quality and comedy--otherwise I know there are a few problems with the message or attitudes in it.

After that, the film Divided was shown. It was not part of the competition, but it was excellent. It showed the dangers of youth groups and how the idea is not found anywhere in Scripture. The film quality and style were great, keeping your interest all the way through.

After the film, the film-makers talked a bit about how and why they had made the film.


Dawned with cold air. We got to the Municipal Auditorium early, since Annie was to be working there as a volunteer. The doors were closed, so we waited around. Eventually, we left Annie there with the Manteufels and Andrew and I drove over to the convention center to see Sybil Ludington and Journey to Everest.

The first movie was the story of a 16-year-old girl who rode 40 miles on horseback to round up the troops against the British in the Revolutionary War. It was inspiring in some ways, and mostly kept my interest. However, I thought the pacing was a little slow at times, showing the same basic scene with repeating music (especially so at the dance). Also, the acting could use some work, and some of Sybil's attitudes at first were not so great. In general I kind of enjoyed it, though, and wondered if I could do anything so brave and exhausting.

Andrew gave his thoughts on the film to one of the new Vision Forum interns, including the kind of guns used. The intern said he was very detailed and that it sounded like Andy could be one of the judges. :)

The next film, Journey to Everest, was interesting--especially seeing the numerous awful gods and goddesses they worship in Nepal. Overall not my favorite film, though, because it didn't seem to explain much in the way of spiritual depth or purpose. There was some of that, but mostly just what I had seen in the trailer.

Andrew and I went to lunch by ourselves after that, getting some Asian food. We brought Annie an Italian wrap for her lunch, and I stayed with her a little while and talked with Mr. Manteufel as Andy went to park.

Then we saw Agenda: Grinding America Down. This...this was a powerful film, which we watched as we sat next to the Verret family. Andrew came in late, since he had had trouble with finding a place to park that would accept his money--I guess he didn't have enough change. During the film, next to me, Lacie was jotting down notes. After a while, I pulled my notebook out and joined her in so doing. I had just recently learned something about Communism and the KGB from some youtube videos Andy shared with us. They were actually very fascinating, though somewhat out of date. But the history was there, and I had basically known nothing about it before then. What I knew was vague and somewhat inaccurate--the exciting spy version. Communism seeks to deceive, and is hard on those that don't agree with the system. So, this film tied in with that, talking more about Karl Marx and his various ties to different American organizations. I believe this film is one of the most important and useful ones in the film festival. Not a fun film to watch, but one we need to watch and re-watch, as Lacie said. At the close of the film, I asked Laura and Lacie to sign my autograph book. They wrote a couple of sweet notes. They are two girls I love and look up to, though they are quite a bit younger than I am.

We went down to the vending tables, looking at books and DVDs. There were even a few books and things for free, which we picked up. While there, Lacie gave me an idea for an art project, which I am seriously considering following up on. Mom, Annie, and I discussed it and possible ideas for it this morning, too. Should I tell you all or keep it a secret? I guess I will keep it a secret for now; sorry! :)

We went back upstairs to see The Runner from Ravenshead, and we all enjoyed that very much. It is an allegory and comedy, using all little kids from one family for the cast! And they are great in their roles. The message is one that should touch you as well, even if the allegory wasn't perfect. The movie was definitely better than I thought it would be.

The cast from The Runner from Ravenshead giving a behind-the-scenes look at the making of their film.

The sweet Verret family

We met up with the Marcics after a while. We were thinking of watching some other films, but since we wanted to eat supper with the Marcics, they said we should get to doing that if we wanted to get back in time for Ace Wonder, which we did. So we started out for Casa Rio after a bit of deliberation. We had a nice supper--Annie and I got a sort of tropical salad, and the others got enchiladas and such. Only Mr. and Mrs. Marcic, Jonathan, Meghan, and baby Nathan ate with us. We talked about various things like our families, friends, and the films we'd watched. Mr. Marcic more than kindly paid for our meals.

That night, we watched the premier screening of a rough-cut Ace Wonder. Even in an unfinished stage, it was quite amazing. Very professional.

...To Be Continued