20 years of the LDS Film Festival, now the celebration has new owners

Local News

OREM, Utah (ABC4) – The LDS Film Festival just celebrated its 20th year. The films rolled on despite the pandemic, and it was announced the festival has new owners.

With COVID-19 protocols in place, fans, filmmakers, and organizers gave the festival a true cinematic experience.

The festival will be moving forward with new owners, with Marshal and Michelle Moore taking over from Kels Goodman as new owners and co-directors of the LDS film festival.

“The Moore’s bring a tremendous amount of experience and will be a talented team to enhance and grow the mission of the festival,” Goodman said on stage Saturday night. The change of ownership will give Goodman more time to write and direct new films that he hopes to submit to the festival at a future date.

Courtesy: LDS Film Festival

According to a release sent to ABC4, “Marshall is the former Director of the Utah Film Commission and currently serves as the VP of Operations and Marketing at the Utah Film Studios in Park City, Utah. Michelle is on the board of the Motion Picture Association of Utah and has worked as a film publicist for almost a decade and has strong relationships with filmmakers, actors, distributors, and the media.”

ABC4 asked the two new owners why they invest in the Utah Film Community?

Marshall says, “I have been part of the Utah film community since I came here in 1992 to begin working on the ABC Mini-Series ‘The Stand,’ and to be honest, film is really the only thing I know.  I love the people, I love the history, and I just love film and feel it is worth the investment of time and resources to grow and build something that has a great foundation already in place.”

Michelle adds, “I’ve had the opportunity to work with so many filmmakers and actors for almost ten years now. There’s a common thread of acceptance and support on any size project I’ve worked on or film sets we’ve visited. Utah has a rich and important history of filmmaking, both in production and education. We felt that we could use our skills in growing and promoting the LDS Film Festival to showcase the talented filmmakers and actors that work and give so much so we can be entertained and inspired.”

A Film Festival is a big commitment. The Moore’s seem to be driven by a sense of bringing films everyone can watch together.

This is a festival that all can enjoy, young and old alike,” says Marshall, “I feel that there is so much still to come. We are just at the precipice of great things and connections that will expand the reach and inclusion of many different filmmakers throughout the world.”

Michelle sees it a little differently, but with the same commitment, “I think what interested me the most is I wanted to be a major contributor in connecting filmmakers with audiences. What I find special as I dive into this genre is the amount of teamwork that goes into producing. Twenty years ago, there might be a background actor that now plays a leading role or a PA that is now directing or producing their own material. Unity. Support. Family. Growth. That’s what I see in filmmaking.”

According to the film festival website: The film festival was started in 2001 by Austrian filmmaker Christan Vuissa. The film festival’s idea was to create a venue and forum to present what LDS filmmaking should be or could be.

The festival quickly grew to present the different categories of cinema, education, and thoughts. Before the pandemic, the festival had 4000 to 7000 visitors each year.

Courtesy: LDS Film Festival

One of the unique things for this film festival is the focus on teaching the craft.

“It is humbling and exciting to be in this role at this specific moment. We are committed to growing the film festival that Christian Vuissa started 20 years ago. We will carry on the sense of community and film unity that Kels and Stephanie Goodman created as owners. Now, as we begin a new era of ownership, we will embrace the foundation of the past and build upon the legacy as we look to the future,” shares Michelle Moore.

New owner and co-director Marshall Moore says, “This year’s celebration of the film has been an amazing experience. The 20th anniversary was truly remarkable. Michelle and I are committed and fully invested in continuing the mission that Kels Goodman has put in motion. We are assembling a Board of Directors that will assist us in growing the festival and community support by providing a platform for filmmakers to showcase their work to audiences and connect with others in the film industry that produce encouraging and inspirational content.” 

Faith-based filmmaking is a special genre to a lot of people. In the last 20 years, more and more stories of faith have been brought to the screen in a professional manner. The Moores say they want to grow the festival.

 Michelle says, “Our focus is growing the festival and providing a platform for storytelling. Films are essential conversation starters, and we encourage filmmakers to bring their work to the festival. We need more movies that entertain and uplift, provide a rich diversity of voices, and a festival that connects filmmakers with audiences and other industry professionals. Our commitment and support will be linked with the filmmakers.”

Marshall’s adds “Filmmaking is always about story and storytelling and our hope is to attract a wide and diverse group of films and filmmakers from all backgrounds and faiths.”

The winners of the 2021 festival are:

The festival’s first-place Feature Film award went to WITNESSES, directed by Mark Goodman and distributed by Purdie Distribution (releasing June 4).

  • First place in the Feature Documentary category went to Remembering Heaven, directed by Tom Laughlin and Sarah Hinze.
  • The Short Film category this year had several films. The first-place award went to The Stranger, directed by Kurt Hale.
  • The Best Short Film Documentary went to The Most Beautiful Trail in America, directed by Dave Baumann and Davis Yates.
  • Best Music Video and the first-place winner was Wonder by Ryan Stream.
Courtesy: LDS Film Festival

The Audience Choice winners are:

  • The Santa Box, (Feature Film) directed by Spanky Ward,
  • Remembering Heaven, (Feature Documentary) directed by Tom Laughlin and Sarah Hinze,
  • The Stranger, (Short Film) directed by Kurt Hale,
  • The Most Beautiful Trail in America (Short Film Documentary), directed by Dave Baumann and Davis Yates, and
  • Wonder (Music Video) by Ryan Stream.  

The LDS Film festival is not affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Below is the complete list of award winners from the festival:

1st PLACE: WITNESSES | Mark Goodman
2ND PLACE: The Santa Box | Spanky Ward
3RD PLACE: Heart of Africa 2: Companions | Tshopher Kambami
AUDIENCE CHOICE: The Santa Box | Spanky Ward 

1ST PLACE: Remembering Heaven | Tom Laughlin and Sarah Hinze
2ND PLACE: Alaska Long Hunters | Tom Rose
3RD PLACE: In the Sign of Cross and Wolf | Ali Kerem Gulermen
AUDIENCE CHOICE: Remembering Heaven| Tom Laughlin and Sarah Hinze

1ST PLACE: The Stranger | Kurt Hale
2ND PLACE (TIE): Forgive Me, Father | Jona Schlosser
2ND PLACE (TIE): No Daddy Daughter Dance | Kody Newton and Jared Stull
3rd PLACE: Black Bear | Peter Paton

1ST PLACE: The Most Beautiful Trail in America | Dave Baumann and Davis Yates
2ND PLACE: One By One | Angie Denison
3RD PLACE: The Latter-Day Saint Image in the British Mind |Martin Andersen
AUDIENCE CHOICE: The Most Beautiful Trail in America | Dave Baumann and Davis Yates

1ST PLACE: Wonder | Ryan Stream
2ND PLACE: Echo | Spark Singers
3RD PLACE: Once Upon a December | Tiffany Gale
AUDIENCE CHOICE: Wonder | Ryan Stream

Watch the Entire Presentation:

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