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Christian Filmmakers to Discuss the Influence of Disney on American Culture

By —— Bio and Archives--October 17, 2007

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Christian filmographers will be taking a hard look at the influence of Disney on American culture as part of the Third Annual Christian Filmmakers Academy to be held October 22-24 in San Antonio, Texas. During a three-lecture symposium on Disney, the CFA’s faculty will dig deep into the corporate and artistic legacy of the communications giant often accused of being the most anti-family media conglomerate in the world.

“Perhaps no individual of the 20th century had a larger impact on media’s influence on family culture than Walt Disney,” remarked Doug Phillips, president of Vision Forum and founder of the Christian Filmmaker’s Academy. “The scope of his cultural legacy is truly massive, impacting everything from our nation’s vision of childhood, family life, and gender roles, to the meaning of a happy family vacation. But his legacy—both positive and negative—has largely gone unexamined by Christian theologians, cultural warriors, and filmmakers.”

Phillips continued: “This year at the Christian Filmmaker’s Academy we hope to lay the foundation for a theological, professional, and practical critique of one hundred years of Disney influence on American culture. Our mission is to help independent Christian filmmakers learn from the wise choices of Disney and the company that he created, while avoiding serious professional and theological errors they advanced.”

Speakers will examine Disney’s skillful invention and use of new technologies, his remarkable management techniques, as well as the lack of discernment that positioned the growing Disney empire to become an engine of cultural decline after Walt’s death. In the words of former Disney president Michael Ovitz, the Disney empire isn’t really a company, but a “nation state” exercising vast influence over global constituencies.

“Young filmmakers need to understand that they carry heavy responsibilities,” noted Geoffrey Botkin, a veteran filmmaker and teacher at this year’s academy. “Their productions will influence and even change cultures. They must be far more careful than the young Disney to manage their gifts, talents, resources, and content. There are lessons from his legacy they must know.”

Lectures will examine the theological worldview communicated by Walt Disney through film and television. Doug Phillips observed: “On the one hand, Disney embraced some of the very best elements of the culture of historical Christendom; but on the other hand, he often advanced what I call the ‘cute-ification’ evil through his clever portrayal and glorification of witchcraft and necromancy.”

Lectures will also trace Disney’s formative years in Missouri and the growth of Disney’s cultural influence, examining his entrepreneurial beginnings, his artistic achievements, and the current anti-family content now earning some $34 billion per year.

The Christian Filmmakers Academy was founded in 2005 by Vision Forum Ministries to train aspiring Christian culture changers to produce motion pictures that communicate the most noble biblical values with technical and artistic excellence, and which make sound business sense. Each year, Vision Forum also hosts the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival and $10,000 grand prize Jubilee Awards which showcases the work of Christian filmmakers as part of an annual film competition. This year’s festival will be held October 25-27 at the Alamo City’s Gonzalez Convention Center.

To interview Doug Phillips about his vision for the Christian Filmmakers Academy, contact Wesley Strackbein by e-mail at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or by phone at (210) 340-5250, ext. 222. For more information on the Christian Filmmaker’s Academy, visit http://www.independentchristianfilms.com.

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