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kenmorefield

2015 Arts & Faith Ecumenical Jury

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Link to thread on 2014 Arts & Faith Ecumenical Jury Award(s).

Link to IMAGE Good Letters announcement of 2014 Results.

Greg (Wolfe) has given me the green light to put together another A&F Ecumenical Jury for this year. 

If you have questions about what the A&F Ecumenical Jury is, please read the thread from last year, posted above.

This jury originate as an offshoot of Christianity Today's Critic's Choice end of year voting, so last year it started with CT critics and expanded to other critics at Christian publications and then to volunteers here. Since it is now an A&F property, that sequence is more or less reversed: participants at A&F should have first dibs on spots on the jury. Please post a message below or send me a private message if you would like to be on this year's jury

Last year we had twelve jurors with two alternates. Two voters eventually dropped out, so we ended up with twelve voters. That's a good size. If you would like to be on this year's jury, please say so in a post below. It worked out nicely that last year everyone who indicated to me that he/she wanted to be on the jury was able to vote. Theoretically, if we had more than twelve volunteers, we might have to come up with a means of jury selection, but we'll cross that bridge if we come to it.

If we have less than twelve volunteers here, I can ask a couple of people outside of A&F, from CT, Patheos or other publications. 

The purpose of the Ecumenical Jury is to make recommendations for and from people of faith, so when considering volunteering, please consider the following: a] how many films you've seen released in the calendar year; and b] whether you are comfortable voting for/speaking for/speaking to a faith audience. 

I thought last year's list was interesting, and it did help conversations about a couple of films that we might not otherwise have seen. Once we have a jury set, I can open nominations. Am I leaving anything out? If so, just ask. 

2015 Jury

Kenneth R. Morefield

Evan Cogswell

Christian Hamaker

Josh Hamm

Joel Mayward

M. Leary

Gareth Higgins

Alissa Wilkinson

Steven D. Greydanus

Peter T. Chattaway

Colin Stacy

Noel T. Manning II 

Lauren Wilford

Jeffrey Overstreet 

Anders Bergstrom 

Edited by kenmorefield

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Keeping a post here for listing nominations once jury is set:

Nominated Films:

The 33

45 Years

99 Homes

Amour Fou

About Elly

Amy

The Armor of Light

The Assassin

Beasts of No Nation

Best of Enemies

The Big Short

Bone Tomahawk

Bridge of Spies

Brooklyn

Clouds of Sils Maria

Concussion

Creed

Crimson Peak

(Dis)honesty -- The Truth About Lies

The End of the Tour

Everest

Ex Machina

Experimenter

Far From the Madding Crowd

Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem

Girlhood

Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief

Hard to Be a God

Hitchcock/Truffaut

Homeless

Inherent Vice

Inside Out

It Follows

James White

Jauja

Kaili Blues

The Kindergarten Teacher

Kumiko: The Treasure Hunter

Last Days in the Desert

Learning to Drive

Listen to Me Marlon

The Look of Silence

Love & Mercy

Mad Max: Fury Road

Man From Reno

The Martian

McFarland, USA

The Mend

Mistress America

Mountains May Depart

Mr. Turner

Mustang

Our Little Sister

Paddington

Phoenix

The Revenant

Right Now, Wrong Then

Room

Salt of the Earth

La Sapienza

Selma

Shaun the Sheep

Slow West

Something, Anything

Son of Saul

Song of the Sea

Stations of the Cross

Spotlight

Steve Jobs

Time Out of Mind

Timbuktu

Truth

The Walk

What We Do in the Shadows

White God

Winter Sleep

The Witch

The Wolfpack

World of Tomorrow

 

 

Edited by kenmorefield

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Anders   

Last fall/Christmas was not a good time for me personally, which combined with the fact that I'm not a paid critic and don't have access to screeners, meant that I didn't end up participating.

This year has been much better. I'm in a good place to hold to commitments and such. But I'm still in the same boat of not getting screeners and not seeing as many films as I would like. So, put me down as being interested in participating, but if better candidates who have seen more 2015 releases come along, I'll be happy to bow out.

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Just bumping this to remind interested A&Fers that there are still a few slots available. I've begun to contact some qualified people outside of A&F to round out the jury. 

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Could be interested, depending on the time commitment.

My perception was that it was not much of a time commitment for critics who were already screening a lot of films or voting elsewhere, but perhaps one of last year's jury can speak to that...Evan? Joel? Mike?

The only hard and fast commitment is that you have to fill out a ballot. It is a list of nominated films. We use a Likert Scale (1 to 5) with an option for "haven't seen" so last year the ballot took 5-10 minute for me to fill out.

There *may* be some implied peer pressure to make a good-faith commitment to try to screen films that are nominated within reason, since if a lot of critics haven't seen many of the films, it may be hard for a film to appear on 1/2 the ballots to qualify. (A film needs only a nomination and a second to be on the ballot, but it also needs minimum number of critics to have seen it to qualify...so if one person is the only voter and gives it a five, that doesn't mean it ranks #1.) Last year the only film I remember watching that I wouldn't have otherwise watched was The Babadook since most were watching via screeners and it had some strong support. I didn't think I would rate it high, but I wanted to at least get a vote in so that ti could be eligible if (as it turned out) the other votes were high enough. Last year there were 63 nominated films. IIRC correctly the most seen on any one ballot was like 45 (me) and the lowest was somewhere in the teens, with the average ballot being between 20-30 of the nominated films. That wasn't a problem if there was only 1-2 voters who hadn't seen as much but if there are too many then the only films that are seen end up being the studio releases. (That was why Nick dropped out last year and may be part of Anders's concern above.) Given your access to VFF and screeners and your knowledge of A&F, I think you'd be a valuable addition to the jury and would be happy to have you, but I would certainly understand if you weren't interested n adding another ballot or didn't feel like you will have seen enough stuff to vote intelligently.

Edited by kenmorefield

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Okay. count me in... with the disclaimer that my MFA homework is making my 2015 viewing list much shorter than in recent years, and I can't promise much time to this. 

Edited by Overstreet

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Could be interested, depending on the time commitment.

My perception was that it was not much of a time commitment for critics who were already screening a lot of films or voting elsewhere, but perhaps one of last year's jury can speak to that...Evan? Joel? Mike?

The only hard and fast commitment is that you have to fill out a ballot. It is a list of nominated films. We use a Likert Scale (1 to 5) with an option for "haven't seen" so last year the ballot took 5-10 minute for me to fill out.

There *may* be some implied peer pressure to make a good-faith commitment to try to screen films that are nominated within reason, since if a lot of critics haven't seen many of the films, it may be hard for a film to appear on 1/2 the ballots to qualify. (A film needs only a nomination and a second to be on the ballot, but it also needs minimum number of critics to have seen it to qualify...so if one person is the only voter and gives it a five, that doesn't mean it ranks #1.) Last year the only film I remember watching that I wouldn't have otherwise watched was The Babadook since most were watching via screeners and it had some strong support. I didn't think I would rate it high, but I wanted to at least get a vote in so that ti could be eligible if (as it turned out) the other votes were high enough. Last year there were 63 nominated films. IIRC correctly the most seen on any one ballot was like 45 (me) and the lowest was somewhere in the teens, with the average ballot being between 20-30 of the nominated films. That wasn't a problem if there was only 1-2 voters who hadn't seen as much but if there are too many then the only films that are seen end up being the studio releases. (That was why Nick dropped out last year and may be part of Anders's concern above.) Given your access to VFF and screeners and your knowledge of A&F, I think you'd be a valuable addition to the jury and would be happy to have you, but I would certainly understand if you weren't interested n adding another ballot or didn't feel like you will have seen enough stuff to vote intelligently.

For those wondering about time constraints, this jury wasn't a huge scheduling commitment, but it did involve seeing some screeners and other suggested films I may not have otherwise taken time to view. FWIW, I'm a full-time grad student, a pastor, not a professional film critic by any stretch (far less films viewed, no access to screeners, etc.), and a father of three kids under age 7, and I'm in. ;)

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Could be interested, depending on the time commitment.

) Last year the only film I remember watching that I wouldn't have otherwise watched was The Babadook...

Oh, I also ended up renting a streaming copy of The Congress b/c Gareth loved it so much. IIRC correctly I put out $3 and then two days later it got added to Netflix streaming or Amazon prime.

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Okay. count me in... with the disclaimer that my MFA homework is making my 2015 viewing list much shorter than in recent years, and I can't promise much time to this. 

Jeff your aesthetic sensibility, knowledge of the target audience, and film bona fides make you welcome.

If you are concerned about the length of your 2015 viewing list, you can, like Anders, do a provisional/tentative yes. You're free to nominate, second or discuss films. As we get closer to the vote (end of December) and there is an actual list of nominated films to look at, you can excuse yourself if you feel as though you haven't seen enough of the nominees to vote intelligently. I think that's what Anders and Nick (Olsen) did last year, and we usually have a couple of extra jury members who can step in should circustances arise that someone says yes and then has second thoughts.

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Okay, looks like we have a jury!

I'm waiting to hear from three people about serving as alternates (it's good to have a few extras in case circumstances lead people to drop out) and I will open nominations later today or tomorrow.

Colin asked me a question on Facebook that I would like some feedback on: is there an official EJ policy about what films are eligible to be nominated. It's the whole "what makes this a 2015 film" question? Does it have to be a 2015 film?

Specifically, he noted that there were a couple films nominated last year--Clouds of Sils Maria and La Sapienza--that he would like to nominate again. 

My inclination on this last year was to err on the side of inclusion and let the market decide via voting. If someone saw something at a festival or screener that hadn't yet reached wide release, he/she could nominate it or second it, but it would be unlikely to garner enough votes to qualify. Similarly if someone wanted to nominate something that was *technically* a 2014 release but that many people didn't see until 2015, he/she is welcome to do so---though individual critics are welcome to not vote for the film if they don't consider it a release. The most obvious film that might fit in the latter category is Selma, which may have been the one film in 2014 list that got high votes from may who saw it but wasn't available to those who weren't ALLIED-THA certified or near a metropolitan area. (NCFCA didn't get a screener of the film but we did get a daytime critics' only screening in Raleigh.) 

To summarize, I don't have a problem with a juror re-nominating a film that was nominated last year but didn't make it into wide release until this year, or nominating a film that was technically a 2014 release but wasn't available to the juror until 2015. Does anyone else have thoughts on this as a matter of policy, or should we just try to decide on a case by case basis?

 

POSTSCRIPT: If you were not on last year's jury (Jeffrey, Peter, Anders, Colin) or if your default e-mail has changed since last year, please be sure to let me know what e-mail you would like me to use *if* any publicists want to reach out to offer screeners. Last year there were only 2 or 3. It was more common for me to give the contact info for the publicist to the juror who wanted to track down a particular film, but there were a handful of publicists who did ask for juror list so that they could send screening links or offers directly.

Edited by kenmorefield

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Another item I would like juror input on: when would we like to close nominations and actually vote?

My inclination is that I like the list to come out the end of December, and I prefer to have at least one day of voting after Christmas in case a juror doesn't have access to advance screening and wants to see a Christmas day release: Hateful Eight, Joy, etc. Conversely, though, I know from other groups that some people go on vacation and don't want to have to check in on holidays to fill out a ballot (or write a blurb). If it were just me, I'd say take nominations through the 19th (if *nobody* has seen an advanced screening of a late release by then to nominate it, the film probably isn't going to be seen by half the jurors who vote anyway), mail ballots on the 21st, and have a deadlnie for submitting ballots as midnight EST on December 26. Does that sound okay, or would anyone like to propose alternate dates?

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Per nominations and eligibility: what would we consider About Elly, which is technically a 2009 film, but only theatrically released in the US in 2015?

Per dates and deadlines: if you pushed it back one day to Dec 27 (Sunday) it'd personally give me more time to view a few Christmas day releases. What was the process for dates and publication for last year's jury?

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Evan C   

It looks like last year we voted on Dec. 20th (because that's the last day in my film journal to have multiple nominated films), but I think extending it to after Christmas is a good idea.

As for eligibility, I think it should be a case by case basis, but I'm fine with the way it worked last year - festival releases counted as well as older films which hadn't gotten a wider release until this year.

Edited by Evan C

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Yeah, it looks like last year the ballots went out Dec. 15th and votes closed on the 20th. I don't recall anyone saying they wished it was earlier, but I do remember Steven saying that he preferred to turn his attention to this after voting in other groups. So I'm good with the sending ballots on the 21st and closing voting on the 28th. (I'd prefer to not close ballots on the 27th, because that is a Sunday and some pay not want to do voting/Internet, etc. on Sabbath.) If someone absolutely needs to turn in ballot early, I can usually accommodate them. 

Regarding the eligibility, I'd say let's err on the side of inclusion...a first time American or Canadian theatrical, DVD, or festival release in 2015. I think that would make About Elly good but wouldn't, say, allow one to nominate Halloween or Grease or the Hobbit because there was a Fathom Events retrospective. As I say, I think the voting will take care of it in the end, so my inclination is that if there is some ambiguity, it's okay to nominate it and dissenters can vote against it on the ballot. 

As a reminder of the nominations procedure, to appear on the ballot, a film must be nominated and seconded by a juror. Jurors can nominate films in this thread or by e-mailing/messaging me. Non-jurors can recommend films for nomination but then they must be seconded by two jury members. Discussion and/or lobbying for a film is welcome, either in this thread or at the film-specific thread in the film forum. (By lobbying I mean encouraging people to watch a film, arguing its merits, etc. not offering to trade votes or bribery!). 

Right now we have 13 jurors; we may have as many as 16--waiting to hear back from a couple of non-current-A&Fers. Once I have a final head count, will decide how many jurors have to have seen the nominated film for it to be eligible for inclusion in the list. 

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I will go ahead an open nominations now by nominating the following films:

(Dis)honesty -- The Truth About Lies

The Martian

Everest

99 Homes

Honor Thy Father (though I don't know how many others will be able to see it)

Spotlight

Stations of the Cross

Our Little Sister

Love & Mercy

 

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As a non-juror, I'll recommend Testament of Youth.

If you do docs as well, I'll recommend The Look of Silence.

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Evan C   

I second:

(Dis)Honesty - The Truth About Lies

Everest

Love and Mercy

 

I'm going to nominate:

Inside Out

Phoenix

About Elly

Timbuktu

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I second Inside Out, Phoenix, and About Elly. (Haven't seen Timbuktu yet.) 

I nominate Something, Anything; and The Salt of the Earth.

Edited by Overstreet

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I will take Darrel's reminder to nominate The Look of Silence. (This film was sent to both OFCS and NCFCA members, so if a juror wants to see it, I can give you the contact info at Participant Media.)

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From Christian via E-mail:

Spotlight (second)

Winter Sleep (Joel’s Honorable Mention from last year, but I couldn’t see it until 2015. I suspect others are in the same boat.)

Paddington

Kumiko the Treasure Hunter

Steve Jobs

Timbuktu  (second)

Mustang (opens  11/20/15 )

Hitchcock/Truffaut (opens  12/4/15 )

Amy

The Look of Silence (second)

Listen to Me Marlon

Best of Enemies

Salt of the Earth (second)

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