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MMP Annual Award Ceremony and 20th Anniversary Celebration by MMP Volunteer Matthew Valerie

by March 13, 2024 0

The Meaningful Movies Project celebrated its 20th anniversary on November 5th, 2023. Founded by Diane and Rick Turner, this organization was built off of activism from the start. What started off as a gathering of 10 activists using film to channel their voices, has grown across the country with the mission of screening films to facilitate positive social change. On this night, the Meaningful Movies Project acknowledges fellow activists with the same vision of speaking for those without a voice and being a beacon of light in the world.

Before the award winners were announced, there was a moment of silence, in dedication to the untimely passing of Meaningful Movies volunteer, Natalie Jude Johnson. She was a young and talented artist, who had much to give to the world. In keeping her memory alive, we were fortunate to view a short film she had produced. She was a young and gifted artist with much to give to the world and will be sorely missed.

Following this, the first award of the night was presented, the Environmental Impact Award. This was presented by the Vegas chapter of MMP, which is given to the film that most shares MMP’s mission of environmental activism. This award was given to the film, “Inhabitants”, directed by Costa Boutsikaris and Anna Palmer. This documentary highlighted the restoration projects of five Native American Tribes, as they fight to sustain their lands and maintain their traditional ways of life.

Next, the high school chapter of MMP presented the Social Justice Award, which holds that all people are deserving of equal access to wealth, health, wellbeing, justice and opportunity. This award was given to the film, “Love in the Time of Fentanyl”, a film chronicling a safe injection site in Vancouver, British Columbia.

After this, we were presented with some spoken word poetry by artist, Sharon Nyree Williams. A multi-talented artist, she is a true fighter and does not stop, presenting her works through poetry, education, and production work throughout the US, and as far away as Rwanda. She is also the Executive Director of the Central District Forum for Arts and Ideas, co-Chair of the Historic Central Area Arts and Cultural District, a former Seattle Arts Commissioner and has served on several Board of Directors.

The next award presented was the Emergent Filmmaker Award, presented by the Ridgefield chapter of MMP. This award seeks to recognize new, emerging and less recognized works within the world of social justice films. This award was given to John Maggio for his work on “A Choice of Weapons: Inspired by Gordon Parks”. In documenting everyday Americans, this documentary highlighted overlooked Americans, giving a voice to them and sharing their stories.

Following this, the award for Organization of the Year was presented by Anne Miller, a volunteer of Mt. Baker chapter. This award recognizes groups that promote social justice in their communities with a mission of peace and justice. This award was presented to Veterans for Peace, Greater Seattle Chapter 92. With a goal of peace for all humanity, this group seeks to show the costs of war, with a hope to end wars for good.

The Turner Legacy Award was presented next, which is given to a filmmaker whose work reflects a deep commitment to peace and justice for all. This award in particular held a special place that night, as Susan Harmon was our first special presenter of the night. Susan has been an activist since the 60s, with her own radio show since the 60s that focused on spirituality and social justice. She wanted to bring together people from vastly different worlds, to bridge a gap and bring and have them see their commonalities. While still active, she unfortunately had a stroke, and had to take time away. Her former radio producer, Eric Reidar introduced her to the show. This is possibly the first time they have seen each other since her stroke, so this was a very special moment. This award was given to Peggy Callahan and Louie Psihoyos for their dedicated work as seen in their film, “Mission Joy”. This film chronicles a thriving and bright friendship between the Dhali Lama and Desmond Tutu.

We were treated to a brief musical performance after this award by singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, Dain Norman. With a vision of world peace, his music can be heard throughout the US, Europe, and Australia.

Next the MMP Volunteer of the Year Award was presented. This award recognizes exceptional talent and dedication to their work for the organization. Nari Weaver of the Seattle Latino Film Festival presented this award, as she was our second special presenter for the night. The winners of this award were Charlie Culvert and Lenca Liptakova for their amazing work and time they have dedicated to MMP.

The last award of the night was the Venue of the Year award, presented by Ren Dietal, a board chair member of MMP. This award was given to the Tacoma Venue. The venue was rescued from a group of volunteers, which was on the brink of being dismantled in June of last year. Over the course of a year, the venue has shown many films and has been the venue of many events.

As this year’s award show drew to a close, many thanks were given to the volunteers of the Meaningful Movies Project. Members of the audience were also treated to an after-party and meet and greet. Thank you to all volunteers and participants.



Article written by MMP Volunteer Matthew Valerie.

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