Engaging Culture Weekend Highlights Artistic Talent on Campus – Asbury University
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Engaging Culture Weekend Highlights Artistic Talent on Campus

April 23, 2018

Students playing in an orchestra
The Music Department’s “Sounds of Stage and Screen” concert kicked off Engaging Culture Weekend.

April 23, 2018

“What happens when we tell our own stories?”

That’s the question that was asked this year throughout Engaging Culture Weekend, which showcased student talent in the musical, cinematic and visual arts. Through a full weekend of guest speakers, panelists, workshops, concerts, art exhibits and the Highbridge Film Festival, Asbury’s campus explored the role of creative engagement in the Christian life. View winning Highbridge films!

The Music Department’s Sounds of Stage and Screen Concert kicked off the weekend as audience members got up close and personal with the best theatrical scores of the year, performed by Asbury’s Orchestra, Women’s Choir, Men’s Glee Club, Handbell Choir, Chorale, and Concert Band. Repertoire included selections from “The Greatest Showman,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Star Wars” and more.

The annual concert is a staple of Engaging Culture Weekend, allowing the community to celebrate students’ musical gifts and appreciate film, theatre and fine arts culture.

Host Doug Walker, Professor of Media Communication, provided witty humor between songs with movie trivia, highlighting facts about the major motion picture each selection is from. Audience members enjoyed the lighter-hearted moments, such as when the Men’s Glee Club performed the theme from “New York, New York” in the style of old Broadway with top hats and canes, and when the women’s choir sang “Scales and Arpeggios” from Disney’s “The Aristocats” dressed in cat ears.

Students acting in a play
Asbury’s Theatre and Cinema Performance Program performed “Macbeth.”

Throughout the weekend, art exhibitions showcased ceramic and graphic design work from senior art majors Madeline Morris ’18, Miranda Lopez ’18 and Savannah Butler ’18.

Students enjoyed attending the Engaging Culture events. Jonathan Miller ‘19 said, “I think this weekend is important because it shows why Asbury is different from other schools in how we provide a way to engage with the arts in a faith context.”

Students heard from Gabe Lyons, author and founder of Q Ideas, during chapel Friday morning. Q Ideas is an organization exploring what it means to “think Christianly” about current cultural topics through books, small group resources, podcasts, online content and more.

Lyons discussed the seven channels of cultural influence and how Christians can further engage the world through those channels and the professions as God calls us to show up “with a holy imagination.”

“We realize if we really want to connect with those we love dearly, whether it’s family members or friends or peers, we must be equipped to engage the difficult conversations,” Lyons said.

Workshops hosted by this year’s Highbridge Film Festival judges and other media professionals offered students a variety of information on the entertainment industry and insight into potential career options. Sessions spotlighted Lyons and media experts Sheryl Anderson (screenwriter), Steve Greisen (documentary producer/director), Christine Swanson (director/screenwriter), David Manos Morris (digital effects artist) and Nelly Greisen (former singer with 2nd Chapter of Acts).

Highbridge Film Festival judge Swanson, who has written and directed movies like “Woman Thou Art Loosed” and “All About You,” shared her experiences and seven tips for making a story better for the screen with students Friday afternoon.

“As a person of faith, I’m always inspired by seeing young people who are on fire for God,” Swanson said. “So, it’s kind of cool for me to come to a university and speak freely about my faith as it pertains to what I do as a filmmaker. I’m first and foremost a person of faith who happens to be a filmmaker. What I love about this festival is that it celebrates unapologetically our faith and it also reminds us of our positioning in the industry and how we can be an agent for goodness and change.”

The capstone event of the weekend was the annual Highbridge Film Festival, which showcased some of the top student films of the year. Check out the list of winning films below.

Students enjoyed honoring the achievements of their classmates through the screening of 13 festival films before media communication professors awarded this year’s award winners. Retired Professor Doug Smart also returned to campus for the festival, where he showed the final episode of Asbury-produced sitcom “Friends Like You.”

Not only did the festival put student stories and artwork front and center, but it also drew a connecting line between faith and entertainment while celebrating the one-of-a-kind Asbury community.

“Highbridge is an opportunity for students to celebrate the work of their peers,” Sophie Saint Firmin ’20 said. “You know that famous Asbury community? This is the Asbury community being celebrated through an expression of art.”

Highbridge Film Festival Award Winners

High School: Cooper Boss (Lexington, Ky.)

Best Production Design: “The Call” (Callie Mounsey ’19)

Best Special Video Effect: “Coffee Time” (Kari Brown ’19)

Best Cinematography, Narrative: “Practical” (Tim McCune ’20)

Best Cinematography, Documentary: “Shoot for the Heart” (Seth Manley ’18)

Best Editing, Narrative: “Coffee Time” (Kari Brown ’19)

Best Editing, Documentary: “Shoot for the Heart” (Seth Manley ’18)

Best Sound Editing: “Coffee Time” (Ethan Garrett ’19)

Best Sound Mixing: “Coffee Time” (Ethan Garrett ’19)

Best Original Score: “The Call” (Austin Willson)

Doug Jones Award for Best Performance, Actress: Skyela Bussey ’19, “Coffee Time”

Doug Jones Award for Best Performance, Actor: Elijah Watson ’19, “C.S. Lewis is Not Dead”

Best Screenplay: “Coffee Time” (David DeMena ’19)

Best Documentary: “Poor Man’s Polo” (Callie Mounsey ’19 & Thomas Miller ’18)

Best Super Short: “Drat” (Catherine Haws ’20)

Best Comedy: “Coffee Time” (David DeMena ’19)

Chad & Amy Crouch Award for Best Drama: “Awake” (Josiah Downey ‘18 & Sally Kim ‘19)

Best Director: David DeMena ‘19

Audience Favorite: “C.S. Lewis is Not Dead” (David DeMena ’19)

To learn more about Asbury’s School for Communication Arts, visit: asbury.edu/comarts.