South Charlotte

Faith-based film festival offers family fun

Ayrsley Grand Cinemas 14 in south Charlotte will dedicate two screens March 9-11 to the fourth annual Projecting Hope Film Festival in Charlotte.

The Projecting Hope Film Festival started in 2004 in Pennsylvania, showing faith-based and family themed films for free.

The festival spread to other cities around Pennsylvania, and in the middle of the last decade two people from Charlotte contacted Scott Anderson, who managed Carmike Cinemas, about bringing the film festival to Charlotte.

Anderson said he had heard consistent complaints from moviegoers: prices were too high and the content wasn't family-friendly enough.

Anderson also saw that films could have an impact.

"I saw people laughing and crying, coming out of the theater and talking about" the movie, Anderson said. "I struggled with, 'Why is the church not using this powerful media to inspire and uplift and encourage people?' "

Haines Maxwell of Charlotte said he got in touch with Anderson after seeing the faith-based movie "Facing the Giants," which was produced by a church in Georgia and had a short run in mainstream theaters. Maxwell wondered if there were other inspirational movies that hadn't made it to theaters.

After a few years of fundraising and building a team of volunteers, the festival opened in Charlotte in 2009.

While the first festivals in Pennsylvania focused mostly on small, independent films, screens for the festival now go through hundreds of movies before choosing films.

The festival still highlights some independent films, but they also show popular recent movies and some that have not yet been released.

"You walk away from the theater feeling moved," Anderson said.

"That's the litmus test when we're selecting films."

This year's festival will feature recent hits like "Soul Surfer" and "Courageous," as well as "October Baby," which will be released March 23.

"October Baby" is about a college girl who discovers she was adopted when her biological mother's abortion attempt failed.

The film festival also will feature "The Lost Medallion," a Disney adventure movie that Anderson said has a "simple but profound message about God's love."

The filmmakers won't receive money from ticket sales, but Anderson said there is a lot of benefit for films at the festival.

Some don't have large marketing budgets, and the festival can be a good place to test-screen movies.

"It's another level of exposure," he said.

Filmmakers also can sell copies of their movies at the festival.

Thousands of fliers have been distributed in Charlotte for the festival, Maxwell said.

In the past, more than 100 people have lined up to get tickets before the movie and more than 7,000 have attended in the past.

"We just want to provide a weekend of positive, encouraging entertainment, to be a blessing to the community," said Anderson.

For more information, visit www. projecting hope charlotte .com .

Tickets are free at the door or can be secured in advance for a service fee through the website.