No Faith Films at TIFF This Year

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Faith based films are on the rise. With increasing momentum, Christian themed films are illuminating the main screen with films such as Heaven Is For Real, God’s Not Dead, War Room, Risen, Miracles From Heaven, and the recent remake from Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, Ben Hur. The rumours of a sequel to Mel Gibson’s, The Passion of the Christ (which launched this trend fourteen years ago) only adds to the notion that this new category called, “faith films” is not going away any time soon. Even though such films now hold a viable and lucrative niche in the market place, some believe they are not getting their due.

The mainstream film industry continues to shy away from the subject of faith, say Toronto based, film producers Jason Barbeck and Rafael Kalamat, who have recently produced their first feature, Adam’s Testament. Barbeck and Kalamat, founders of Real Deal Guys Entertainment, admit that they struggled to find festivals and outlets willing to support their film, largely because of its faith themes and content.

We reached out to TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) for comment on the subject of faith based films but were unable to receive a comment.

Barbeck and Kalamat believe that the time is right to develop a festival focusing on faith films in Toronto to coincide with TIFF in an effort to help film makers find their niche in the mainstream market.

“We believe that faith and family films are underserved,” claims Kalamat. “We want to launch a film festival that features films that promote hope and are inspirational for all ages.”

Their plan is to launch the Toronto International Faith and Family Film Festival in the fall of 2017, with the desire of attracting attention and audience, riding the wave generated by TIFF. “Not all the films would be for a general audience. We expect to have a variety of categories like most festivals,” assured Kalamat. They intend to provide, “a safe place for the family,” as well as feature works by film makers wrestling with the big questions of faith.

“Not only do we want to feature faith-based films, but we want to provide a vehicle for film makers to network and encourage each other,” affirms Barbeck. “People are clamouring for hope. We want to encourage film makers by creating a place where their work can be launched.” The proposed two-day festival would feature films with faith based themes as well as opportunity for panel discussions and workshops.

Though the term, faith-based often refers to the Christian faith, Barbeck ad Kalamat say they are willing to discuss and feature films of various faiths in an effort to be genuine and transparent in all aspects of the faith journey.

The concept has already begun to garner support and interest from sponsors according to  Barbeck and Kalamat. They admit they have a long road ahead but they believe it will succeed with hard work and of course, plenty of faith.

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