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kenmorefield

2019 List Preliminary Discussion

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Happy new year, everyone. This thread is for preliminary discussion and planning of a potential 2019 iteration of our list. In order to move forward, I think we need to agree on the following by the end of January:

1) A timeline. When will nominations begin? When will voting happen? 

2) A facilitator. I have not been involved beyond voting in previous lists, so I am not sure what all this entails or how much of a time commitment it would be. 

3) A final product. Since we are no longer sponsored by IMAGE, are we looking to simply have a list that we post and discuss here, or are we looking for some external product, such as a companion book or write up in another venue?

4) A quorum. Do we have the minimal number of people required to make the project viable? What is it? (Answer to that may depend on #2 and #3). 

5) A process. Are we satisfied with the process in previous lists? Will we start from scratch, with each film having to be nominated, or are some films grandfathered in?

6) Would we be better off doing a Top 25 in 2019 to reestablish traffic and then try to do a Top 100 in 2020, or do we have enough participants to do the bigger project?

 

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I'll start things off:

1) See my answer to #6

2) I would normally volunteer to facilitate, and perhaps can be part of the facilitating process, but I'm on the latter half of my PhD dissertation which will require much of my attention for 2019-2020.

3) Isn't A&F still hosting a version of the list here and here at artsandfaith.com? Even if some of the links don't presently work, I think hosting it at ArtsandFaith.com would be best; otherwise, the list ends up hosted by some other site, and ends up being determined or "owned" that that host's traffic, domain, etc.

4) We've discussed this elsewhere, but this seems really difficult to judge, especially as there may be folks who haven't been as active at A&F in recent months/years but would be drawn back to participate in such a list. So, a "build it and they will come" model may work here.

5) I have no idea what the Top 100 process has been like regarding grandfathering films in or not, but something in me thinks that having a whole new slate--even if the nomination process took a long time or was more work--would allow for new perspectives and new films to be nominated. I did appreciate having a cut-off date that didn't include brand new films from the same year, allowing for time and space for the best films to rise to the surface and remain in our collective memory and spirits.

6) I do think there's merit to doing a Top 25 list in 2019 and a Top 100 in 2020. There's something about having a Top 100 on a nice even number and a new decade that feels right, and it does allow for us to take the time for such a project rather than rush it.

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Thanks for your input, Joel.

Of course part of me wonder whether numbers are big deal. Having a smaller number of voters could radically *change* the list. I've noticed in critics groups that the bigger they get, the more they tend to be the same. One upside of, say, having 10 voters rather than 40 is the ability to have an input for rethinking rather than just repeating. '

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1) I'd say anytime after the Ecumenical Jury has been completed. Timeline for voting should probably depend on whether we do a top 100 or a top 25, with more time allotted for the former.

2) I'm willing to keep track of nominees and email ballots. If someone else wanted to help

3) I think some external product would be nice, whether it's a companion book or publishing results elsewhere.

4) I'm not sure what would be quorum.

5) Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't it use to be any films on previous lists were automatically nominated? I'm okay with that, because it seems like a good way to prevent oversight, and I think our makeup has changed enough that the titles we don't collectively like would probably be voted against anyway.

6) A top 25 would mean nominating and voting on themes first, and then repeating the process for film nominees, whereas we could just have one nomination and voting round for a top 100, and I think a top 100 would probably generate more traffic. So I'd be inclined to do a new top 100.

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Joel Mayward wrote:
: 6) I do think there's merit to doing a Top 25 list in 2019 and a Top 100 in 2020. There's something about having a Top 100 on a nice even number and a new decade that feels right, and it does allow for us to take the time for such a project rather than rush it.

Evan C wrote:
: 5) Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't it use to be any films on previous lists were automatically nominated? I'm okay with that, because it seems like a good way to prevent oversight, and I think our makeup has changed enough that the titles we don't collectively like would probably be voted against anyway.

I concur with these two statements (though I take Evan's point about the extra element involved in voting on a Top 25, where we have to select a *theme*...).

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3 hours ago, Peter T Chattaway said:

Joel Mayward wrote:
: 6) I do think there's merit to doing a Top 25 list in 2019 and a Top 100 in 2020. There's something about having a Top 100 on a nice even number and a new decade that feels right, and it does allow for us to take the time for such a project rather than rush it.

Evan C wrote:
: 5) Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't it use to be any films on previous lists were automatically nominated? I'm okay with that, because it seems like a good way to prevent oversight, and I think our makeup has changed enough that the titles we don't collectively like would probably be voted against anyway.

I concur with these two statements (though I take Evan's point about the extra element involved in voting on a Top 25, where we have to select a *theme*...).

Peter, am I reading this correctly that you would be leaning towards a Top 25 rather than a Top 100? 

On a separate note, it appears at some point after I was not part of the process the Top 100 dropped the "Spiritually Significant" label. I would be in favor of bringing that back because:

  • Top 100 implies to me some sort of universal or broader assessment, without any real distinctive of the list or body making it. 
  • Decline in participation makes the notion that this is a represenative of Top 100 from this body less meaningful.
  • I have a book chapter coming out next month in Routledge Handbook on Spirituality in Professions and am attending a conference in may about Spirituality in Movies, so my own recent work is certainly in the tradition of examining the notion of what spirituality in movies means. 

Edit: Am I the only one who thinks maybe the Top 100 threads should be under the "About this Web Site" Forum rather than the film forum?

 

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kenmorefield wrote:
: Peter, am I reading this correctly that you would be leaning towards a Top 25 rather than a Top 100? 

I *lean* towards that, because it sounds like less work, though as Evan notes, Top 25 lists do have an extra voting step. Also, I like linking the Top 100 to even-numbered years, but that's a somewhat arbitrary thing.

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1. I agree that it’s best not to rush the process of a Top 100, even as it would be good to start/keep the ball rolling soon. Even if we start the process soon (with no Top 25), the process could take a full year and be published early in 2020. Or maybe that’s too long a timeline?

3. I agree with Joel that hosting the list at artsandfaith.com makes the most sense. (If I remember, the Ecumenical Jury list was published on the Image website. Where will it be now?) A companion book based on the list feels like something to take up once the list is further along—it doesn’t feel integral to the list-making itself.

4. I don’t think this is something to be worried about. As long as there is a facilitator and the list-making is happening, I think enough people will participate to make it worthwhile.

I would honestly be surprised if the list didn’t change a lot from 2011. A&F made five Top 100 lists in the 8 years from 2004-2011. The makeup of the list changed a lot over the course of those years and iterations. And now it’s been 8 years from that last list. New participants, new films, and new processes to determine the list will surely make a difference.

5. It looks like for the 2011 list (well before I became a participant, but I’ve read the archived discussion), only the previous Top 100 was grandfathered into being automatically nominated. With grandfathering, as Evan said, people could still advocate for films on the current list. I think it would be fine if we nominated all new films from scratch, too.

I have a recommendation for revamping the voting process to make the list’s ranking more meaningful. I’ll make another post on this soon.

6. Doesn’t matter, though I’d be more invested in a Top 100. I do like the idea of another Top 25 this year and a new Top 100 for 2020, but it feels like there is more momentum for a Top 100. (Completing the Top 25 by the end of the summer seems workable. Then the nomination process for the 2020 list could begin in earnest in the late summer or fall. And we could keep discussing issues around a Top 100 in this thread until then. It’s not like it would have to be paused completely.)

Additional items.

I like the idea of calling this list “Spiritually Significant” or something like that. It says something about the films on the list directly, rather than just that it’s the top films of this group of people who are broadly interested in the intersection of arts & faith. And “spiritual” in this context can and should be construed as multi-valently as possible to include everyone who participates on this board.

“Film” seems the appropriate place on the board for these discussions to me.

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19 hours ago, Evan C said:

A top 25 would mean nominating and voting on themes first

Or it would just mean finally doing a Top 25 Coming-of-Age Films list. ;)  

Also, I am still in favor of a book companion to the Top 100, if that's doable. And whether we do a Top 25 or a Top 100 this year, I'm on board.

55 minutes ago, Rob Z said:

I like the idea of calling this list “Spiritually Significant”

I'd also be in favor of including some sort of "spiritual" or "transcendent" language, one which could be inclusive enough to be broader than just "particular brand of Christian spirituality" but also addresses that mysterious, intangible soul of cinema.

Edited by Joel Mayward

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3 minutes ago, Joel Mayward said:

Or it would just mean finally doing a Top 25 Coming-of-Age Films list. ;)  

Also, I am still in favor of a book companion to the Top 100, if that's doable. And whether we do a Top 25 or a Top 100 this year, I'm on board.

 

 

Not necessarily advocating this, but it could be possible to do both...begin the Top 100 (longer process) and Top 25, just have different deadlines.

 

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A couple of quick responses:

Add me to those suggesting we do a Top 25 this year and a Top 100 in 2020 (I'm in favour of Joel's idea of "Coming-of-Age" films, fwiw).

If we do 2020, I will have a chunk of time freed in summer that year, because it is a term without a teaching load for me. So, I'd consider helping with the organization of it (I've also been around since the first lists in 2004).

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Yeah, a Top 100 in 2020 has a nice ring to it (with a companion book, too!).  I also think some time for A&F to gather momentum this year on a smaller project, i.e. a Top 25, is not a bad idea.

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This is premature, but I can't help myself from saying the topic of Coming-of-Age doesn't jazz me. (If the theme were more age restrictive, I'd be more interested in films about aging or even midlife crises....).

Also, fwiw, publisher has indicated preliminary interest in book around Top 100 or Top 25, so if a book chapter or companion interests you, that's a possibility either way.

 

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The Coming-of-Age topic is just one I've suggested in the past and was frequently the #2 choice in previous Top 25 votes. So, I'm suggesting it now mainly in jest--if it hasn't gained public traction in the past, maybe there's a good reason for that.

On 1/8/2019 at 8:33 PM, kenmorefield said:

it could be possible to do both...begin the Top 100 (longer process) and Top 25, just have different deadlines.

I like this idea, as long as it doesn't take its toll on the organizers.

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On ‎1‎/‎8‎/‎2019 at 10:55 PM, kenmorefield said:

This is premature, but I can't help myself from saying the topic of Coming-of-Age doesn't jazz me. (If the theme were more age restrictive, I'd be more interested in films about aging or even midlife crises....).

Of course, it'll all wash out in the voting, but I feel similarly about Coming of Age as a theme.  Though A&F hasn't done it, nonetheless it feels as though it's been done enough elsewhere.  However, I think a Top 25 films on Growing Older could be quite interesting.  Perhaps it's my own narcissism at hitting the big 5-0 last year, but also realizing that many of us here have aged together over 15+ years, this topic holds a strong appeal.

Additionally, given our current cultural climate, I would find something akin to Honesty in a Time of Lies stimulating.  Though I'm a non-Christian, at least in America, I think the survival and credibility of the church are currently on the line, given the alliance of evangelicalism's major powerbrokers with the most dishonest president in our country's history.  Too divisive a topic perhaps, but it would be interesting.

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42 minutes ago, Andrew said:

I think a Top 25 films on Growing Older could be quite interesting.

Oh, that could be interesting. Would this be films about "Elderly People" as a particular life stage, films specifically about the experience and process of aging itself (perhaps with a growing awareness of mortality) which might not be limited to "elderly" people, and/or films which feature a key elderly character but aren't necessarily *about* aging or mortality?

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7 hours ago, Joel Mayward said:

Oh, that could be interesting. Would this be films about "Elderly People" as a particular life stage, films specifically about the experience and process of aging itself (perhaps with a growing awareness of mortality) which might not be limited to "elderly" people, and/or films which feature a key elderly character but aren't necessarily *about* aging or mortality?

I really like "Growing Older" as a theme, as long as the emphasis is on GROWING oldER, rather than on just on OLD. I'm 34, approaching middle age, and I'd love a list that could explore that reality along with the reality of my parents, approaching elderhood, something that is also very much on my mind.

This definitely feels like more of an A&F take on the topic of aging. I agree that coming-of-age films and the bildungsroman more generally is perhaps too conventional of a topic to take up, although I think it could be just as valuable for A&F to take a more "mature" look at at a conventional genre.

8 hours ago, Andrew said:

Additionally, given our current cultural climate, I would find something akin to Honesty in a Time of Lies stimulating.  Though I'm a non-Christian, at least in America, I think the survival and credibility of the church are currently on the line, given the alliance of evangelicalism's major powerbrokers with the most dishonest president in our country's history.  Too divisive a topic perhaps, but it would be interesting.

Along these lines, I remember "Crime and Punishment" being a previously proposed topic that felt appropriate and timely, especially if it were more broadly construed as a list of films about justice. This is in part for reasons that concur with Andrew's suggestion, as some important groups in our society seem hellbent on moving away from a robust presence of justice and I find that those who are most vocal about justice often present it in a rather reductive way. But I'm all in for Growing Older.

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Rob Z wrote:
: I'm 34, approaching middle age . . .

Wow. I'm at a point in my life now where 34 seems kind of enviably young to me, but I don't think I ever thought of myself as "approaching middle age" when I *was* 34. Partly, I think, because I decided long ago that the first 20 years of a person's life are a write-off, because you don't have any freedom and you go where your family goes and so on and so on, so if you're going to calculate "middle age" you should use 20 rather than 0 as your starting point.

If we *do* go with the Growing Older theme, I'd certainly want to nominate 45 years, a film about a couple approaching their 45th anniversary that I saw at VIFF right around my 45th birthday. (I'm 48 now. When I turned 20, I thought "Great, I can look down my nose at teenagers now"; when I turned 30, I thought, "Oh my God, the next one's 40!"; when I turned 40, I barely noticed, possibly because I was too busy being the parent of special-needs pre-schoolers; and now... well, my 50th birthday is still almost two years away, but for at least a year now I've been describing myself in casual conversation as "almost 50", like I'm trying to prepare myself for the big day or something, so who knows what I'll be thinking when the day itself arrives.)

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6 minutes ago, Peter T Chattaway said:

Wow. I'm at a point in my life now where 34 seems kind of enviably young to me, but I don't think I ever thought of myself as "approaching middle age" when I *was* 34.

Not saying that I'm there already! :) Obviously these categories are fluid. But I'm a dad now, and I have a "career" job for the first time in my life, so my life stage is starting to feel different, call it what you will.

And I had a minor "procedure" last year!

 

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For some reason this makes me think of one of my favorite Harry Chapin verses from "There Only Was One Choice": 
 

Quote

When I started this song I was still thirty-three
The age that Mozart died and sweet Jesus was set free 
Keats and Shelley too soon finished, Charley Parker would be 
And I fantasized some tragedy'd be soon curtailing me 
Well just today I had my birthday -- I made it thirty-four
Mere mortal, not immortal, not star-crossed anymore 
I've got this problem with my aging I no longer can ignore 
A tame and toothless tabby can't produce a lion's roar 

 

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19 hours ago, Joel Mayward said:

Oh, that could be interesting. Would this be films about "Elderly People" as a particular life stage, films specifically about the experience and process of aging itself (perhaps with a growing awareness of mortality) which might not be limited to "elderly" people, and/or films which feature a key elderly character but aren't necessarily *about* aging or mortality?

I was definitely thinking more along the lines of Rob's response, that is, films that have something important to say about growing older (especially into the second half or final few decades of life), not just films with a prominent older character.

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I don't mind overlapping the process for a top 25 and top 100, with the latter having a later completion date.

 

I like the Growing Older theme a lot, especially if we take it the direction Rob suggested. Would it just be growing older into the second half of life, or would it be growing older at any age?

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Excellent.  Nothing like list-making to get me back onto Arts and Faith again!

I would love to be a part of either a top 25 or a top 100.  I do seem to remember that at least one of our top 25 lists in the past 5 years was viewed as a leadup to the longer work of a subsequent top 100 list.  The fact that we never got to that top 100 list makes me wonder if the energy of making a top 25 list sort of wears us out as a group and makes it less likely that we'll go all the way in the following year with a top 100.  For that reason, I would tilt toward a top 100.  A top 100 book on spiritually significant films would be super.  Given how long it would likely take to put together a top 100 and an associated book, wouldn't starting in early 2019 mean that we could think about having a book together by the nice round year of 2020?  That timeline would give a lot of room to think and prepare.  I wouldn't think that we as a group could do a top 25 AND a top 100 by year 2020...not unless the group was a bit bigger.  I also think that more folks from the past will start appearing once a top 100 starts rolling.  Perhaps that would draw more people back then a leadup top 25.

Whatever we do, I'm keen to be a part of it.

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2 hours ago, Brian D said:

  I do seem to remember that at least one of our top 25 lists in the past 5 years was viewed as a leadup to the longer work of a subsequent top 100 list.  The fact that we never got to that top 100 list makes me wonder if the energy of making a top 25 list sort of wears us out as a group and makes it less likely that we'll go all the way in the following year with a top 100. 

 

That is certainly a plausible interpretation of delays and postponements. My own sense is that this issue is probably bound up more with issues surrounding Image and board leadership's ability/willingness to running a more massive project than in board members' willingness to participate in it. But that's purely speculative since I wasn't really part of previous Top 25 lists. 

 

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As you can see, I have changed the sub-forum name from Top 100 to Top 25. 

I understand the arguments of those who would prefer doing a Top 100 right away, but given a survey of past iterations and board history, I'm reluctant to commit to that while A&F is still in a "reviving" stage. 

Looking at the most recent list, from 2016, it seemed like the timeline was about picking  a theme in January and the results were announced in early May. This works for me since I am on an academic schedule. Those who wanted to contribute to a book but have academic or other professional commitments would then be able to plan ahead and do writing over the summer. If that is successful, I think it will provide the reassurance that we can pick up a Top 100 in 2020. 

So...what's next? I think we need to pick a theme. We've floated the idea of Growing Older, Coming-of-Age, and there were previous votes about Crime and Punishment, Politics, etc. Those who are interested in participating in a Top 25, let's talk about themes in this thread through the 18th, and then I will create a poll/thread with all the suggestions. Let's aim to pick a theme by the end of the month so that we can begin nominations. 

Sound good?

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