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kenmorefield

2017 Arts & Faith Ecumenical Jury

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Since I got my first handful of FYC screeners in the mail this week, I guess it's time to ask if we want to saddle up for another ride...

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Anders   

I'm in, as I had a good experience last year. My recent social media fast has ironically spurred my film watching, and I'm hoping to catch a lot more this fall. I have some films I'll definitely advocate for.

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I haven't been writing as much as I have in the past, but I'd enjoy being part of the jury again.

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I've exchanged messages with Greg and he says he is open to sponsoring jury again provided it doesn't create too much work for staff which has turned over a bit at IMAGE. I don't see why it should. He also expressed a request that whatever our voting dates this be ready to be printed at web site

Since that is March 4, 2018, we are talking about early February. So as long as we finish voting by the first week in January or so, we could have a week or two to write blurbs. 

In order of importance, I'd see the next steps as:

1) Deciding on a jury foreman/point-person.

2) Finalizing the jury. (Do we automatically renew same jury from year before? Invite new people? If new, do we simply expand or do we cap number of participants? Are we okay with jury members who aren't active members of A&F or is this/should this be more limited since it is now officially and A&F labeled project?

3) Finalizing dates to close nominations and to close voting? 

4) Creating a nominations and/or discussion page. 

Of the seven of us who have so far responded -- does anyone actively want to be foreperson? I've done it before, but I'm certainly open to giving someone else an opportunity. Also, last year Joel did the introductory write-up, so that's not a given that the foreperson has to do that. But there should be one person that is a correspondence person and who creates and tabulates the ballots, etc. and who has decision making power if some unforeseen circumstance (like with Silence) arises. 

On a side note, I wonder if anyone is interested in writing a one-paragraph description of the jury and/or its function? Last few years we've had a broad mission statement -- to expand or challenge what it means to recommend a film specifically to/for Christians. But perhaps it might be better (going into year four) to have something a "bit* more descriptive about who we are and what we are doing? Or maybe not...?

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I am not an active poster here any longer and haven't been for some time, but I still read new posts every day and would count myself a "participant" in that sense. 

I haven't written anything for the jury since the first year I participated, which may have been the jury's inaugural year (I can't remember). I don't know if that's made me more of a burden than an asset to the jury, but skills aside (others are better writers than I am, and I figure we want the best public presentation of our list that we can get), I always agree to participate in a moment of pre-screener-season enthusiasm, only to find myself tapped out by the time we get to our vote. By then, as a voting member of a regional critics group, I've watched as many award-season releases as I can, either at the theater or on DVD/stream, and have read more year-end Best Films lists than I can count (and contributed my own, usually). The A&F jury comes at the tail end of that process, by which time I'm pretty weary of the awards conversation - but also eager to take part in highlighting certain films here that for certain reasons don't always apply to other lists. 

I do like that our list lands after all the other lists have landed. I just don't have much to give beyond seeing as many movies from the year that I can and being as informed a voter as I can be. 

Edited by Christian

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9 hours ago, kenmorefield said:

Deciding on a jury foreman/point-person.

I want to recognize that Ken has been in this role for the past few years and it's gone smoothly (even with Silence dates), so thanks to Ken for keeping this thing going. I would gladly take up the baton if Ken would want/need a break--in writing up the introductory piece and collecting people's Honorable Mentions and blurbs, I found myself in a bit more of an administrative role last year corresponding with Greg Wolfe, and I enjoyed it enough. But I will also defer if someone else is more keen or available to do this. And I think it'd be beneficial to have another voice write the opening paragraph.

9 hours ago, kenmorefield said:

Finalizing the jury. (Do we automatically renew same jury from year before? Invite new people? If new, do we simply expand or do we cap number of participants? Are we okay with jury members who aren't active members of A&F or is this/should this be more limited since it is now officially and A&F labeled project?

Here's the list of the jury members from last year, as well as the website/handle for each person (I've put in bold those who have responded here in the forum for this next year):

Anders Bergstrom (3 Brothers Film)
Peter T. Chattaway (FilmChat)
Evan Cogswell (Catholic Cinephile)
Jessica Gibson (Freelance/Christ & Pop Culture)
Steven D. Greydanus (Decent Films)
Christian Hamaker (Crosswalk)
Josh Hamm (Cut Print Film)
Gareth Higgins (The Porch Magazine/Movies and Meaning)
M. Leary (Filmwell)
Noel T. Manning II (Cinemascene)
Joel Mayward (Cinemayward)
Kenneth R. Morefield (1More Film Blog)
Jeffrey Overstreet (Christianity Today)

Is there anyone else we could imagine inviting, or has participated in previous iterations of the jury? I think of Alissa Wilkinson, Wade Bearden, and Elijah Davidson. I'm not sure about a "cap" but an ideal number seems to be 12-15, as it allows for a wide diversity of nominated and viewed films and fosters discussion without turning it into something unmanageable.

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Christian, I hope you will participate, though I understand burn out on multiple levels. I am biased in that I know I created this jury initially to replace the Critics Choice poll at CT. I'm fine with it becoming an A&F thing, but that does tend to flirt with groupthink. I think to be truly "ecumenical" in spirit and practice, means balancing voices. I'll also cop to caring (though not overly so) about the professional/amateur distinction, and I think it would certainly look odd if one of the professional critics who has been affiliated with A&F (in varying degrees) did not participate. 

Joel, I'd be happy to hand over the reins if you feel comfortable taking them on...since I'm still around, I'll be available for questions or help if you need it. Regarding the jury membership, I'm pretty sure Noel would do it again, and I suspect Gareth would too, though I'm less certain. Jeffrey, Steven, and Peter can all speak for themselves. Jessica was added last year in part to address Image's concern of an all-male jury. That might make it worthwhile to reach out to Alissa again, though I'd be surprised if she said yes. Maybe Laura Kenna? Colin Stacy did it two years ago and then dropped out last year (I think he had a kid?) Not sure if he would be interested or is still writing, but he did a lot of work in tracking down screeners and approaching publicists. 

There's probably no logistical reason to cap the jury, though I confess my personal preference is smaller rather than larger because my experience with Critics Associations is that as they get bigger they tend to get reduced to common denominators and all look alike. The two real selling points for me of this jury is the faith component and the fact that its at least possible to try to discuss/persuade/discover rather than just adjudicating between the same five movies everyone else is voting on.


 

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Sorry if my earlier post gave the impression I might not participate. I plan to be part of the jury again, but at the rather minimal level of commitment (compared with other jury members who write summaries, etc.) I've taken on the past couple of years. I was just suggesting that my failure to do more than watch films and vote might be frowned upon, and if so, it would probably be best to know that now so as to not disappoint the other jury members when it comes time to write up the results. 

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I'm interested, but this has been a very "off" year for me (we have a whole other thread about that somewhere), and I haven't seen anywhere close to the number of films that I normally see in a year. Heck, I think I saw only five films at VIFF this year (distracted as I was by family stuff, medical appointments and whatnot). So I'm not sure to what degree I'd "qualify".

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