A Utah pediatrician saw a dream come true last weekend when about 500 people gathered in Hollywood to honor filmmakers who produce uplifting movies.
The Character And Morality In Entertainment (CAMIE) Awards was established 10 years ago with a group of concerned parents wanting to find wholesome films for their families, and it has evolved into an event attended by Hollywood celebrities.
Dakota Fanning, Jon Voight and Olivia Hussey were some of the stars in attendance at the fifth annual CAMIE Awards held last weekend in the Leonard H. Goldenson Theatre in North Hollywood.
"We had a dream that we could encourage Hollywood to make movies that were uplifting," said CAMIE founder Dr. Glen C. Griffin. "It's a dream come true."
The Utah-founded organization awards producers, actors, writers and directors of theatrical motion pictures and made-for-TV movies that provide positive role models with stories of overcoming adversity and strengthening families.
A proponent of abstinence education, Griffin said the films awarded were "really fun and entertaining but ... didn't have sex and violence in them."
The 2007 CAMIE statuettes went to the films "Akeelah and the Bee," "Charlotte's Web," "One Night With The King," "Eight Below" and "The Nativity Story." Also, the made-for-TV movies "The Christmas Card," "Hidden Places," "Mother Teresa," "Candles on Bay Street" and "The Water is Wide."
Dakota Fanning, Olivia Hussey, Jeff Hephner and John Newton were among the recipients.
Griffin said that rather than giving "best-actor" or "best-film" awards, each CAMIE-winning film receives 10 statuettes to be divided among people at all levels of production. That way everyone involved is encouraged to continue making uplifting movies.
Jon Voight, a CAMIE recipient for his role last year in CBS's "Pope John Paul II," was a presenter, and Griffin said "he went on and on talking about the CAMIEs and how important it was to honor these family films."
Stefanie Cosman, a one-time film critic for moviepicks.org another of Griffin's ventures co-produced and co-directed the presentations. Cosman said she believes in the organization's mission and sees the difference it's making in the film industry.
"Hollywood really seems to be catching on to this Utah pediatrician's vision," she said. "Not only are they listening, but they're getting excited about it."
The process for nominating and awarding a film is pretty complex, Cosman said, with multiple boards offering advice and recommendations based on their members' varied experience. Advisory-board members include talk-show host Dr. Laura Schlessinger, Utah performer Alan Osmond, and a variety of religious and social figures.
"They help us with policy," Griffin said. "They bring their perspectives from their different faiths in a very wonderful, united fashion."
Griffin said former advisory board member and Archbishop of New York, Cardinal John O'Connor, gave him some serious advice about how to make the CAMIEs a success. O'Connor, who died in 2000, counseled him to focus only on the positive things the people and studios do.
Although some of the award recipients may have been involved in less wholesome productions or have made poor and immoral decisions in their personal lives, Griffin said, CAMIE's mission is "rewarding them and complimenting them on what they do right."
As for the negative things, "We don't talk about that," Griffin said.Recommendations for the 2008 CAMIE awards are already being made, with "Amazing Grace," "Bridge to Terabithia," "Crossroads" and "Loves Unending Legacy" among those nominated so far.
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