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Judith TrojanThe Christopher Awards
CHRISTOPHER AWARD WINNERS FOUND INSPIRATION AROUND THE GLOBE AND THROUGHOUT HISTORY
98 creators of outstanding films, TV programs and books will be honored at the 60th Anniversary Christopher Awards Gala
NEW YORK, April 14, 2009—From the slums of Mumbai to the Iraqi desert, from skid row in Los Angeles to the aftermath of the Holocaust on Lithuanian survivors, winners of the annual 60th annual Christopher Awards share the common theme of hope in the face of adversity. The Awards, which will be presented on Thursday, April 16, salute media that remind audiences of their power to make a difference.
Twenty-four feature films, TV and cable programs, and books for adults and young people, along with their 98 writers, illustrators, directors, producers and executive producers, will be recognized at the Christopher Awards gala, at the McGraw-Hill Building, here. Father Dennis W. Cleary, M.M., the new director of The Christophers, expressed his pleasure at personally greeting this year’s winners. “Artists offer humanity a unique prism,” said Father Cleary. “The creative contributions recognized by the Christopher Awards present views of reality which heighten inspiration and engage the human soul. Each Christopher Award winner ‘affirms the highest values of the human spirit.’”
The six Award-winning Feature Films focus on protagonists from youth to old age facing extreme challenges. Slumdog Millionaire’s Jamal Malik and The Secret Life of Bees’ Lily Owens survive brutal childhoods and grow up to be winners in spite of early obstacles. Young@Heart follows a chorus of senior citizens as they rehearse and perform contemporary rock, despite physical infirmities and initial unfamiliarity with their repertoire. Music bridges the gap between generations and cultures in The Visitor and a lone robot with an affinity for Broadway show tunes helps bring life back to garbage-strewn Earth in the computer-animated WALL●E. And finally, Changeling, directed by Clint Eastwood, shows a mother's fierce determination to reunite with her abducted son in the face of rampant police corruption in Los Angeles circa 1928.
TV & Cable
The power of individuals who confront life’s trials with determination highlights the seven TV & Cable winners. Last year’s Christopher Life Achievement Award-winner, author/historian David McCullough, wrote the book on which the HBO miniseries John Adams was based.
The impact of the Holocaust on succeeding generations is explored in P.O.V. – Inheritance, and change is afoot in rural Cranford, England, circa the 1840s, the setting for the Masterpiece Classic—Cranford miniseries. Both Inheritance and Cranford aired on PBS, as did American Masters—Pete Seeger: The Power of Song. The latter explores the life and impact of the legendary writer/performer of such familiar songs as “If I Had a Hammer” and “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?”
ABC News Primetime aired The Last Lecture: A Celebration of Life, following the last months of Prof. Randy Pausch, as reported by Diane Sawyer. The PBS documentary, The Power of Forgiveness, examines the benefits of forgiving through high-profile real-life examples. A Christopher Award also goes to the creators of A Raisin in the Sun, for their ABC production based on a recent Broadway adaptation of the powerful 1959 classic.
Books for Young People
Young readers can travel the world through the five winners in the Books for Young People category. Walter Dean Myers takes his young adult readers to war-torn Iraq in Sunrise Over Fallujah. In Shooting the Moon, Frances O’Roark Dowell addresses an earlier war, Vietnam, for readers aged 10 to 12. Sara Pennypacker’s protagonist wants her favorite teacher to return from sabbatical in Clementine’s Letter, illustrated by Marla Frazee. For ages six to eight, That Book Woman, by Heather Henson and illustrated by David Small, celebrates the influence of pack-horse librarians. And Kimiko Kajikawa wins in the pre-school category for Close to You: How Animals Bond.
Books for Adults
The Holocaust is the focus of Michael Bart and Laurel Corona’s Until Our Last Breath: A Holocaust Story of Love and Partisan Resistance, one of half a dozen 2009 winning Books for Adults. Final Salute: A Story of Unfinished Lives by Jim Sheeler, honors soldiers who gave their lives in Iraq, as told through the experiences of a Marine assigned to notify military families of the death of a loved one.
Two other winning Books for Adults show us that history has poignant and continuing relevance: Steven Waldman’s Founding Faith: Providence, Politics, and the Birth of Religious Freedom in America, and American-Made—The Enduring Legacy of the WPA: When FDR Put the Nation to Work by Nick Taylor.
The redemptive power of relationships are key to two final winners. Irene M. Pepperberg writes about her 30-year professional and personal attachment to an intelligent African grey parrot in Alex & Me. And in The Soloist: A Lost Dream, an Unlikely Friendship, and the Redemptive Power of Music, journalist SteveLopez tells the story of his life-altering involvement with a mentally-ill musical genius on L.A.’s skid row. A film based on the book will be released April 24, with Robert Downey, Jr. and Jamie Foxx in the lead roles.
The Christophers are rooted in the Judeo-Christian tradition of service to God and humanity. The ancient Chinese proverb—“It’s better to light one candle than to curse the darkness”— guides its publishing, radio and awards programs. To learn more, visit www.christophers.org.
[Editor: A full list of winners is available on request.]