Fencer stories still touching moviegoers

Writer/Producer/Director George Adams hasn’t lost momentum since premiering Touché: A Blind Fencer’s Story at the 2013 Big Bear Lake International Film Festival. His 58-minute documentary has spent 2014 screening in cities around the world, and picking up recognition along the way.

The latest of these include winning 2nd Place in the Best Documentary Feature category at the Seattle Truly Independent Film Festival (May 10), and the award for Best Short Documentary at the Madrid International Film Festival (July 19).

An award-winning fencer himself, Adams spent nearly two years chronicling how practicing this Olympic sport instills confidence in blind or partially blind men and women. One such person is single mother Catherine Bolton, who the producer describes as a strong woman able to prevail over the challenges of vision loss and raising a troubled teenager. Adams says it’s partly that appeal of a struggling underdog that explains the movie’s positive reception.

“I think the film touches (to use the phrase) so many because we can all empathize with overcoming adversity that life throws our way. The film touches a core fear, that the sighted community has, of losing one's vision. ‘How would I... how could I... survive?’ We, in fact, do survive. These fencers move beyond their obstacle of no or low vision and show the sighted community (and others within the blind community) that there is a quality of life even without sight. Adversity can be overcome, if you get out there and do it.”

Teaming up again with Adams on this production is Second-unit Director, Klaudia Kovacs, who previously worked with him on the international award-winning documentaries Panic Nation and Torn From the Flag. The latter was a collaboration with cinematographers Laszlo Kovacs and Vilmos Zsigmond, two legends that Adams cites as among his greatest influences, and who were previously honored at the Big Bear Lake International Film Festival.

Vanessa Finney
August 27, 2014

"Apocalypse" is Finding its Audience

Photo credit: Michael Macor, San Francisco Chronicle

With statistics like "40% of Americans believe Jesus will return before 2050," the idea of Judgement Day is worth our attention--especially when someone calls its exact date. That's the subject of Apocalypse Later: Harold Camping vs. the End of the World, directed by Zeke Pestrup, a respectful nonbeliever genuinely fascinated by Christian culture. 

The flick had its VOD release last month, as well as a front-page spread with the 80-year-old journalism hub for spirituality and ethics, The Religion News Service

Using Camping's convictions as a jumping-off point, Apocalypse Later traces the roots of end times proclamations from the Book of Daniel, to the historical Jesus, to the Apostle Paul. And within the 2011 storyline that follows the would-be prophet's prediction--then humble revision--of Judgement Day, the film balances Camping, his supporters and his detractors. Among the heavyweight scholars weighing in are John J Collins, Yale Divinity School; Bart Ehrman, University of North Carolina's Dept. of Religious Studies; Loren Stuckenbruck, Princeton Theological Seminary; and Peter Lillback, President of Westminster Theological Seminary.

Co-produced by Carl King & Zeke Piestrup, the documentary is steadily finding its audience. In 2013, Apocalypse Later played at the Big Bear Lake Internaional Film Festival, the Blue Whiskey Independent Film Festival in Illinois and the Rhode Island International Film Festival; the latter two honored Piestrup with the Promising New Filmmaker Award and the Future Filmmaker Award, respectively. 

Since then, libraries have bought screeners, it's been made available in millions of homes, and it screened at the prestigious Society of Biblical Literature's regional conference in Fullerton, then its annual meeting in Baltimore (the largest gathering of religious scholars in the world). Piestrup shot footage at those events and at the Evangelical Theological Society's annual meeting for his next documentary on Fundamentalism.

We just hope it's released before 2050.

Vanessa Finney
June 22, 2014

Photo Credit: Michael Macor, San Francisco Chronicle