WWU Student Film Wins Top Awards at Christian Film Festival
The Way, a short film created by Walla Walla University (WWU) students Erik Edstrom and Jesse Churchill, won Best in Festival and Best Dramatic Short at the annual SONScreen Film Festival. The Way is a modern retelling of the biblical story of Saul’s conversion on the road to Damascus.
“The award for Best in Festival is the highest award given at the SONScreen Festival and represents exceptional merit in both content and technical quality,” says David Bullock, WWU communications department chair. “The competition this year included more than 15 entries in the Documentary Short category, and quality was exceptionally high among entries.”
Churchill, a senior theology major, says, “The film is filled with biblical references and parallels. For instance, the Jesus character in the film is named Soteras, which in Greek means ‘Savior,’ and the title of the film, The Way, is a reference to what the early church called themselves in the book of Acts.”
Edstrom, a senior industrial design major, says he and Churchill were inspired to make a film that could be enjoyed by both Christians and non-Christians. “We don’t state that this is biblical until the end of the film,” he explains, “so we hoped that anyone who didn’t recognize the story could get to the end and be inspired to think of the Bible in a more relatable way.”
Edstrom says he hopes The Way will inspire other filmmakers to tell biblical stories in an original way and that it will inspire viewers to pick up a Bible and read it from a different perspective.
Making The Way was a faith-building project for both Churchill and Edstrom. “I truly believe that God brought the right people to us that we needed to make this project a reality,” says Edstrom. “Every time we faced a hurdle in production, God gave us the people or resources that we needed.”
A second film by WWU students, Student Story//Stephen Farr, was a finalist in the documentary category. Three WWU students also contributed to two winning mini movies created by teams of students from WWU and other universities. In this category, Edstrom won first place as cinematographer; Cloud Tsai, a junior communications major, won first place for audio and acting; and Micah Hall, a sophomore communications major, won second place as director of Stay.
The SONScreen Festival was created in 2002 by the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists to nurture Christian filmmakers. It has become a destination for filmmakers to share their creative work and to network with other media and film professionals.