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Spirit of Windrider

Recognizing Commitment In Encouraging The Creative Spirit To Impact Culture Through Film And Media

Each year, we honor an individual who embodies the heart of soul of Windrider. We are always excited to feature our accomplished and eclectic Spirit of Windrider Award Recipients. We take the time each year to go through a nomination, presentation and selection process, as we gather together to choose each year’s recipient.

PAST AWARD WINNERS

We have been excited to honor the following individuals over the years…

Erwin McManus

2017

Erwin McManus

Pastor, Author, Storyteller
READ THE BLOG ARTICLE
Bio

Erwin Raphael McManus is an iconoclast known as a cultural pioneer for his integration of creativity and spirituality.

 

Erwin is a storyteller and observer of life. His writings are an exploration of the human spirit and search for what makes us uniquely human.

 

His newest book, The Artisan Soul, explores life as a work of art and is a Los Angeles Times and Publishers Weekly bestseller, and a Gold Medal winner for the Living Now Mind book awards and the Christian Living Illumination Book Awards. He is also the author of Soul Cravings, Chasing Daylight, and other leading books on spirituality and creativity.
Erwin, a native of El Salvador, now lives in Los Angeles, California.

 

He holds a BA in psychology from UNC Chapel Hill, a Masters of Divinity from Southwestern Theological Seminary, and a Doctorate of Humane Letters from Southeastern University.
Erwin is an artist, entrepreneur, cultural thought leader and the founder of MOSAIC, a community of faith in Los Angeles, California and has inspired the church across the world to new expressions of faith and spirituality. MOSAIC is known for its innovation, creativity, diversity, and social entrepreneurism and has been named one of the most influential and innovative churches in America.
Engaging such issues as culture, creativity, change, and leadership, Erwin is widely known as a thought-provoking communicator. His travels have taken him to over 50 countries and he has spoken to over a million people from a wide variety of audiences, including professional athletes, Wall Street investors, Universities, film studios, and conferences focused on leadership, creativity, culture, and living a wholistic life.

 

Erwin sees the imagination as the principle vehicle through which we create a better self, a better world, and a better future. He argues that creativity is both uniquely human and the essence of human uniqueness. Creativity, McManus contends, is a natural expression of our spirituality.

 

When we are most fully alive we create out of love all that is good and beautiful and true. In The Artisan Soul we are called to embrace our inherent creative genius and to embrace our role in the creation of a beautiful future. Visit him online at www.erwinmcmanus.com.

Mike McHargue & Michael Gungor

2016

Mike McHargue

Author, Podcaster, Speaker
– and –

Michael Gungor

Worship Leader, Songwriter, Musician
Bios

Mike McHargue is an author, podcaster, and speaker focused on the science behind spiritual experiences. Mike lost his faith via atheism as an adult, but rediscovered God in cosmology and neuroscience–a journey that lead to his life’s mission: helping people reconcile their faith in an age of incredible scientific insight.

Mike cofounded The Liturgists with Michael Gungor of the award winning band Gungor. Michael is a worship leader, songwriter, and has received multiple Grammy nominations and is a Dove award-winning musician. Michael’s passion is to help people encounter God through worship. Michael and wife, Lisa, are curators of the Grammy-nominated musical collective simply known as Gungor and use their skills to tell honest musical reserves to blur genres and break expectations creating a unique magnetic expression.

Monika-Moreno-Lapp

2015

Monika Moreno-Lapp

Former Director, Angelus Student Film Festival
Bio

Monika Moreno-Lapp has directed student film festivals since 1998. Her exceptional talent and considerable passion for storytelling in film made ANGELUS the #1 preferred student film festival globally and has resulted in five Oscar nominations among Angelus winners and a litany of other prestigious awards. Monika fields many invitations worldwide to speak to young filmmakers and screenwriters, including teaching a course on short film at the Universita del Santa Cuore in Milan, Italy and leading other seminars and panels worldwide. Monika regularly conducts filmmaker interviews with industry leaders in the international film festival circuit. She has extensive experience in film history, branding, copywriting and a background in screenwriting which resulted in several options and awards, including the Blue Cat Screenwriting Competition, Santa Catalina Film Festival, UCLA Diane Thomas Screenwriting Award, HBO Monage and Big Bear Film Festival, to name a few. She is currently producer/writer on the web series “Non-Prophets” in development.

Craig-Deweiler

2014

Dr. Craig Detweiler

Filmmaker, Author, Educator
Bio

Dr. Craig Detweiler, Ph.D., is a filmmaker, author and cultural commentator. Craig is director of the Center for Entertainment, Media, and Culture at Pepperdine University in Malibu. He’s a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Davidson College and earned an M.F.A. from the University of Southern California’s acclaimed film school. His comedic documentary, Purple State of Mind, won Best Spiritual Film at the 2008 Breckenridge Festival of Film and the Audience Award at the 2009 Tallahassee Film Festival. Detweiler’s first book, co-written with Barry Taylor, was A Matrix of Meanings: Finding God in Pop Culture, dealing with relationships between advertising, movies, music, TV and the divine. Other Detweiler books include: Into the Dark: Seeing the Sacred in the Top Films of the 21st Century (2008), discussing contemporary film from a social, cultural, and theological perspective; A Purple State of Mind: Finding Middle Ground in a Divided Culture, a companion piece to his documentary film Purple State of Mind; iGods: How Technology Shapes our Spiritual and Social Lives (2013), a theology of technology, internet and social media. Craig has also edited a new book, Halos and Avatars, which connects the dots between video games and God. His cultural commentary has appeared on ABC’s Nightline, CNN, Fox News, NPR, and in The New York Times. He blogs as ‘Doc Hollywood’ at patheos.com.

T.C. Johnstone

2013

T.C. Johnstone

FILMMAKER, “RISING FROM ASHES”
Bio

It is probably not uncommon that most successful filmmakers begin their journey in a very unlikely way. That is certainly true of our 2013 Spirit of Windrider Award winner, T.C. Johnstone.

 

T.C. first explored the idea of becoming a filmmaker over 10 years ago when he took a class in Theology and Film at Fuller Theological Seminary in Colorado from Professor Craig Detweiler, one of co-founders of the Windrider Forum.   T.C. was a youth worker for Young Life living a charmed life in a resort community in Colorado.  Craig challenged T.C. to make the risky move to L.A. to get his feet wet and see if he couldn’t find a place in the industry.

 

After producing his first feature, an unlikely project with a group of high school students in Steamboat Springs, CO, he moved to Santa Monica, California, and began working as a Director of Photography and documentary director on a wide variety of projects ranging from national television (ABC, CBS, NBC, Discovery, CNN) to independent films.

 

He also landed a unique opportunity which eventually led him to Rwanda.  T.C. was asked to become the videographer for Pastor Rick Warren at Saddleback Community Church.  “T.C. has literally traveled the globe with me recording amazing stories of the church,” states Warren. “I consider him to be one of the finest young producers of his generation.  He has an ability to capture and interpret stories in a powerful and compelling way.”

 

It was during one of his trips with Warren to Rwanda that TC was first introduced to Jock Boyer and the Rwandan cycling team.  Rising From Ashes is the feature length documentary about two worlds colliding when cycling legend Jock Boyer moves to Rwanda to help a group of struggling genocide survivors pursue their dream of a national cycling team.  As they set out against impossible odds both Jock and the team find their journeys to be linked in surprising ways as they rise from the ashes of their past.

 

Work on the Rising From Ashes project spanned more than seven years, culminating with some final scenes from the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.  It has had a very successful festival run in the fall of 2012 taking home awards at a number of festivals.  And, the team of filmmakers often remind viewers that it is not just about the bike.  The bicycle became a tool that has changed a nation and launched a non-profit, Project Rwanda.

 

Rising From Ashes will be screened at the closing event for the 2013 WindriderForum at the Sundance Film Festival followed by a Q&A with T.C. and Producer, Greg Kwedar.  T.C. will also receive the Spirit of Windrider award at that event which is open to the public at no cost.  The Rising From Ashes screening will take place on Saturday, January 26th, 6:30-9:00pm, at the LDS Stake Center, 2300 Monitor Drive, in Park City, UT.  There is no cost for the event which is open to the public.

 

T.C. currently focuses on independent documentary feature films.  With a passion for transformative stories and world issues, T.C. began writing and directing films with redemptive themes. The vision was simple, allow audiences to dream. He believes a well told story can be the catalyst for change. T.C. is focused on five strategic areas: reconciliation, leadership, poverty, health care and education. He believes these issues affect us all and we are all part of the solution.

Destin Daniel Cretton

2012

Destin Daniel Cretton

Filmmaker
Bio

In 2008, the Windrider Forum brought Writer/Director, Destin Daniel Cretton, and his first film to the Sundance Film Festival, the Angelus award winning short, Deacon’s Mondays (created together with Lowell Frank).  In 2009, Destin returned to Sundance, this time with an official entry in the festival’s Shorts Competition, Short Term 12 (produced with Michelle Steffes).  Now, in 2012, Destin returns for the third time, along with his first feature length film, I Am Not a Hipster, a drama set in the indie music scene.

 

Destin will be honored on the opening night of the 8th annual Windrider Forum @ Sundance as the recipient of the 2012 Spirit of Windrider award.

 

His Sundance journey parallels Windrider’s surprising run at the festival.  Launched as an experiment in 2005, the Windrider Forum brought a group of students, faculty, and guests to the festival to have a conversation at the intersection of faith and film.  That “experiment” has now become the premiere immersive educational event at the festival.  And each year since 2005, Windrider has hosted a half dozen young award-winning filmmakers, including Angelus winners like Destin, to celebrate their work and allow them to network, learn, and dream at Sundance, about the ways that they can develop as artists, filmmakers, and storytellers.  Destin took full advantage of that opportunity since his first Windrider experience.  The Sundance Film Festival is all about discovering new talent, and Destin has emerged as one of the promising young talents in the film world.

 

Destin grew up in Maui with five siblings in a religious home that had concerns about the content of TV and movies, but with parents who encouraged his imagination and creativity.  He completed an undergraduate degree in mass communications at Point Loma Nazarene University, attended the Los Angeles Film Studies Center where he was mentored by Windrider co-founder, Craig Detweiler, and then completed a graduate degree in filmmaking at San Diego State University.  He launched a film company, Flagpop, together with his college buddy, Lowell Frank, and produced several short films including Deacon’s Mondays (2007),Drakmar: A Vassal’s Journey (2006), Bartholomew’s Song (2006), and Longbranch: A Suburban Parable(2002).

 

Destin’s thesis film at San Diego State University, Short Term 12, premiered at Sundance in 2009.  Each year more than 5000 short films are submitted by young filmmakers hoping to make it onto the dance floor.  From that list 96 are selected as entries in the competition.  Breaking through those daunting odds, Destin along with Short Term 12’s producer, Michelle Steffes (a graduate of Taylor Univesity, one of the participating schools at Windrider), who became friends one year earlier as guest filmmakers invited to participate in the Windrider Forum, decided to work together on the film and submit it as an entry to Sundance.   The concept for Short Term 12 emerged from Destin’s work at a residential treatment center as a young adult.  The film is a crazy, roller coaster, “typical”,day in the life, ride with the staff and kids at this treatment center.  It is honest, gritty, and painful, yet filled with compassion, empathy, and even humor.  It highlighted Destin’s skills as a storyteller to introduce us to characters who were so broken and yet so likeable.

 

Short Term 12 rose to the top of the long list of short film entries in 2009, taking home the award as the best of the best, the US Jury Prize.  Craig Detweiler in his Purple State of Mind article on the film interviewed one of the Sundance judges, celebrated indie actor, Lou Taylor Pucci (Thumbsucker, The Answer Man, and The Go Getter) who praised Cretton’s ability to create characters that were believable, troubled, and yet still empathetic in the brief span of his 22 minute film.  Said Pucci, “Many features don’t display the same level of depth.”

 

So, it is against the backdrop of those high expectations that Destin returns in 2012 to Sundance with I Am Not A Hipster, his first feature length film that promises not only an entertaining ride into the unique indie music scene but also another look at the complexity of the characters who inhabit this world.

 

I Am Not a Hipster is already garnering some of the pre-Sundance “buzz” that could make it one of this years’ break out successes.  The film’s look at one narrow slice of the  San Diego culture, resonates with local culture commentator, Nada Alic.  In her blog on the film she also identifies the universal appeal of the film, “Hipster explores the San Diego indie music scene in a raw and incredibly human way – the hipster walls come down, exposing vulnerable young adults struggling with lingering adolescent malaise and grappling with their dysfunctional relationships.  Real life stuff.”

 

Each year, we honor an individual who embodies the heart and soul of Windrider, individuals whose skills, creativity, and courage are shaping the cultural landscape.  The talented and unique collection of Spirit of Windrider recipients have included Heather Rae in 2009 (Director/Producer of Sundance Grand Jury Prize winning film, Frozen River), accomplished veteran Director/Producer, Ralph Winter in 2010 (whose vast body of work includes four movies in the XMen series, two Fantastic Four movies, and Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes), and Jeff Sparks in 2011 (founder, president, and CEO of the Heartland Film Festival and Truly Moving Pictures).

 

We are honored to add to this impressive list the 2012 Spirit of Windrider award-winner, Destin Daniel Cretton, who returns to the Sundance Film Festival for a third charmed time.  We’ll let his new film help us to decide whether or not Destin qualifies as a true hipster, but his four year run at Sundance has demonstrated that he clearly embodies the spirit of the Windrider experience.

Jeff Sparks

2011

Jeff Sparks

Former Director, Heartland Film Festival
Bio
  • Bachelor’s Degree in Theatre from the University of Evansville
  • Master of Fine Arts in Directing from Florida State University
  • Assistant Professor of Theatre at St. Leo College, St. Leo, Florida 1978 – 80
    • Directed two plays each year
    • Designed and built two plays each year
    • Taught Introduction to Theatre, Acting, Directing, Theatre History, and Independent studies for Seniors – averaged 17 class hours per semester
  • Executive Director of the Indiana Children’s Christian Home from 1980 – 1990 – A residential treatment center for emotionally disturbed youth
    • Oversaw all financial and fund raising areas
    • Helped develop a total renovation of the treatment program to specialize in sexually abused children with the Director of Counseling and the treatment staff
    • Oversaw the development of an on grounds school including the design, construction, and the raising of the capital funds needed
  • Founding Board member and Executive Director of The New Harmony Project from 1987-1999 – A writer’s Laboratory developing new scripts for theatre and film
    • Helped develop the lab with writers and board members
    • Oversaw the running of the lab including staffing of artistic talent
    • In charge of meeting the annual fund raising needs
  • President/CEO and Founding Board Member of Heartland Truly Moving Pictures from 1991 to 2013
    • Developed the concept of a film festival and presented that idea to sponsors and funders which resulted in getting the festival started in 1992
    • Oversaw all aspects of the festival including artistic, business, and fund raising for the first ten years
    • In 2003, with underwriting from the Lilly Endowment, oversaw the development of a management team to help take the festival from a regional event to a national movement
    • Current responsibilities include:
      • Overseeing the management team
      • Responsibility for the Artistic Vision – including programming of the festival and developing relationships with filmmakers, studios, and distributors
    • Current responsibilities also include– with major involvement in the artistic vision and fund raising
  • Founder and President Emeritus, Heartland Truly Moving Pictures from 2013 to present
  • Senior Fellow, Sagamore Institute from 2014 to Present
    • Working on Community Development in the Southeast Neighborhoods of Indianapolis
    • Writing a book about the journey that became The New Harmony Project and the Heartland Film Festival
  • Personal – Married to Connie Kauffman Sparks in January 2015 with two children
    • Adam, married to Sarah with two children, Colton and Asher
    • Rachel, married to Nathan Graeser with a daughter, Adella

Ralph Winter

2010

Ralph Winter

Executive Producer
Bio

Ralph has proven to be one of Hollywood’s most profitable assets, producing motion pictures and television. Winter produced the X-MEN Trilogy, Tim Burton’s PLANET OF THE APES, the FANTASTIC FOUR movies, and WOLVERINE: ORIGINS. In 2013 he Executive Produced THE GIVER, starring Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep, Katie Holmes, Alex Skarsgard, and Taylor Swift, directed by Phillip Noyce for The Weinstein Company and Walden Media. Then last year, CROUCHING TIGER HIDDEN DRAGON: THE GREEN DESTINY, just finished filming in New Zealand for release with Netflix and The Weinstein Company, starring Donnie Yen and Michelle Yeoh. And now in Spain, shooting THE PROMISE with Christian Bale and Oscar Issac, Terry George (HOTEL RWANDA) directing. An epic love story set against WWI.

 

A graduate of UC Berkeley, Ralph is active in community affairs and performing arts projects, speaks in the US, overseas at universities and film festivals, and serves on several film advisory boards. He is an active member of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, the DGA, and the PGA.

Rick Stevenson

2009

Rick Stevenson

Producer, Director, Writer
Bio

Rick Stevenson is a Seattle native known for his work in film and television in the United States, Canada and Great Britain. Stevenson’s production credits include PRIVILEGED (1983) starring Hugh Grant; RESTLESS NATIVES (1985) starring Ned Beatty, PROMISED LAND (1987) starring Meg Ryan and Kiefer Sutherland; SOME GIRLS (1989) starring Patrick Dempsey, Jennifer Connelly and Andre Gregory: and CROOKED HEARTS starring Jennifer Jason-Leigh, Noah Wylie, Juliette Lewis and Peter Coyote.

 

Stevenson made his feature film directorial debut in 1995 with MAGIC IN THE WATER, starring Mark Harmon and Joshua Jackson. His next, widely lauded, feature film was THE DINOSAUR HUNTER with Christopher Plummer (1999). This was followed by ANTHRAX (2001) starring Cameron Daddo, David Keith, William B. Davis, Ed Begley Jr. Most recently, Stevenson directed, co-wrote and produced EXPIRATION DATE(2006) starring Robert Guthrie, Dee Wallace Stone and David Keith. Stevenson has directed many programs for television including ED for NBC and his work as a director of television commercials has garnered a myriad of awards.

 

In 2004, Stevenson founded The Film School with Tom Skerritt and Stewart Stern. He is currently piloting OFFICIAL BEST OF FEST, an initiative to help bring the world’s best indie films to the public. He is also completing his first feature in THE 5000 DAYS PROJECT series. Rick holds a PhD from Oxford University, a master’s degree from the London School of Economics and a bachelor’s degree in history from Whitman College in Washington State.

 

Rick is married with four children.

Heather Rae

2008

Heather Rae

Producer, “Frozen River”
Bio

Heather Rae is an American film producer, director, and actress of partly Cherokee descent. She produced Frozen River (2008), which won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival as well as two Academy Awards nominations and was acquired by Sony Pictures Classics.

 

One of her first films was a short documentary in 1990 called Birth Our Own.[2] Other directing filmography includes Trudell (2005).

 

Rae has also worked as an actress, in the movies Silent Tears (1998), Backroads (2000), Christmas in the Clouds (2001), Most Funniest (2005), Norman Waiting (2006), and Disappearance (2006).

 

Rae is married to screenwriter/director Russell Friedenberg and has three children. Her 12-year-old daughter, Johnny Sequoyah, starred as Bo Adams on the NBC television series Believe.

 

As of the spring of 2008, Rae was an adjunct professor of communications at Boise State University, teaching “Producing the Independent Film”.