Patrick Henry College
Official Moonlight Film Fest poster
“It has been a wild, life-changing trip, stepping out into the unknown, but I think this is where my Lord wants me right now,” she said.
Leesburg will host the unique event, the Moonlight Film Fest, on April 4-5. The festival, to be held at the Tally Ho Theatre, will feature films that shed light in the darkness of the human soul and feature truth, beauty, and goodness. These include free showings of Fireproof, Bella, and Academy Award nominee Most: The Bridge, along with handpicked short films from across the nation.
“I am planting a seed in the independent film community, and I am eager to see what my Lord does with it,” said Pride.
After much prayer and debating back and forth between business or non-profit models, Pride decided to present the Moonlight Film Fest as a gift to the community. Her brother surprised her with a check that covered the cost of the venue, and she is scrimping to meet the other costs of hosting the festival.
"It is a great learning experience--much cheaper than film school," she explains.
Pride spent the year since her May, 2007 graduation working in PHC's Department of Communications as a web administrator and news writer, learning hand-on filmmaking in her off-hours, and attending every film festival she could find in Virginia. She realized that, while Christians often talk about the evils of Hollywood, not many are trying to build a realistic alternative. The Moonlight Film Fest, she says, is a tiny step toward that goal. The purpose of the festival is two-fold: to help foster a vision for independent Christian film and to provide a venue for it to play. The date is set, the venue is reserved, and film showings are coming together.
“I am accepting any genre of film [until March 20], so long as it is an excellent story that is reaching for goodness, beauty, and truth,” she said. The entry form is on the festival website.
Sarah Pride (Literature, '07 -- and currently, PHC webmaster)
Then, a professor's question her senior year made her realize that teaching history classes wasn’t really what she wanted to do with her life.
“I decided that I was going to ‘invest talents’ in independent filmmaking over the next two to three years after college and find out if I had any skills in that arena."
In the process, she says God blessed her with amazing contacts. In summer of 2007, George Escobar of Advent Film Group let her observe on the set of Come What May, which gave her the courage to embark on her own short films. And at the Redemptive Film Festival at Virginia Beach, after praying for specific leading in whom to approach, she met Gregory Grigoire, chief of staff for the Jesus Film Project, who in turn put her in contact with West Coaster Clyde Taber, organizer of the Damah Film Festival. Taber put her in touch with Nathan Elliott of the Doorpost Film project and John Ware of the 168 Film Project.
"People typically expect a lower standard from Christian film, but that is because they don't know where to look," said Pride. "I've been spending the last several months watching some quality short film."
Pride says that with available digital technology and interest of young people in film, “ideas have the opportunity to make a powerful impact.”
“If Jesus Christ really is the answer to all the universe’s problems, then Christians should be creating the best art. I set out to see if we could meet that challenge,” she said.
Pride has started Moonlight Media, LLC to serve both as the legal mechanism for the festival and as the vehicle for future independent film productions of her own. She and a small collection of artists, both at PHC and in the surrounding northern Virginia area, aim to make projects of increasing difficulty, with the eventual goal of completing a feature film. Their first short film reached the top 25 at the spring 2008 Reel Dreams Film Festival at Regent University in Virginia Beach.
Visit the festival website for more information about entering or attending. The Moonlight Film Fest will run from 10am-2pm on Saturday, April 4 and 2pm-9pm on Sunday, April 5.