The LDS Film Festival closed out its 20th year by revealing its film awards and announcing that ownership of the festival was being transitioned.

Kels Goodman, the president and owner of the festival for the past five years, announced at the award ceremony he is stepping down to pursue more film production.

The festival will be moving forward under new ownership. Marshall and Michelle Moore will take the reins from Goodman as new owners and co-directors of the LDS Film Festival.

“The Moores bring a tremendous amount of experience and will be a talented team to enhance and grow the mission of the festival,” Goodman said on stage Saturday night.

Marshall Moore is the former director of the Utah Film Commission and currently serves as the vice president of Operations and Marketing at the Utah Film Studios in Park City.

Michelle Moore is on the board of the Motion Picture Association of Utah and has worked as a film publicist for almost a decade and has strong relationships with filmmakers, actors, distributors and the media.

“It is humbling and exciting to be in this role at this specific moment,” Michelle Moore said. “We are committed to growing the film festival that Christian Vuissa started 20 years ago. We will carry on the sense of community and film unity that Kels and Stephanie Goodman created as owners. Now as we begin a new era of ownership, we will embrace the foundation of the past and build upon the legacy as we look to the future.”

According to Michelle, she and her husband love what they do. In his past responsibilities, Marshall has helped many of the LDS filmmakers get grants and other aid over the years.

“This year’s celebration of film has been an amazing experience,” Marshall Moore said. “The 20th anniversary was truly remarkable. Michelle and I are committed and fully invested to continuing the mission that Kels Goodman has put in motion. We are assembling a Board of Directors that will assist us in growing the festival and community support by providing a platform for filmmakers to showcase their work to audiences and connect with others in the film industry that produce encouraging and inspirational content.”

Michelle added, “Kels did a magnificent job of making the foundation strong.”

Attendance at the festival this year, considering COVID-19 issues and reduction in seating, was good, Michelle Moore said.

“The SCERA Center for the Arts is a great location, and we are going to maximize every square inch of it,” Michelle Moore said. “Almost every presentation reached the maximum number allowed for COVID-19.”

Some of the things the Moores are hoping to do is make many of the films and documentaries available to watch again. Many of these films are great videos, but have not been seen by the general public.

“We will hold events throughout the year creating events and fundraisers,” Michelle Moore said. “We are also developing outreach to college students.”

As for this year, Michelle Moore noted that organizers, filmmakers and fans alike were thrilled that a true cinematic experience remained at the heart of this year’s festival thanks to the organizers’ careful planning and execution of the event.

In addition to film awards, LDSFF presented its Lifetime Achievement Award to filmmaker Lyman Dayton for accomplishing notable levels of success in the film industry.

“We are incredibly grateful to have shared another year of remarkable films with a live audience at the festival and to honor Lyman Dayton for his work and investment in the LDS filmmaking space,” Goodman said. “We believe in the power of storytelling and bringing people together.”

The festival’s first-place Feature Film award went to “Witnesses,” directed by Mark Goodman and distributed by Purdie Distribution (releasing June 4).

First place in the Feature Documentary category went to “Remembering Heaven,” directed by Tom Laughlin and Sarah Hinze.

The Short Film category this year had several excellent films. The first-place award went to “The Stranger,” directed by Kurt Hale. The Best Short Film Documentary went to “The Most Beautiful Trail in America,” directed by Dave Baumann and Davis Yates. Closing out the judging categories is Best Music Video and the first-place winner was “Wonder” by Ryan Stream.

The 2021 Audience Choice Award winners, voted on by audiences that attended the festival, went to “The Santa Box” (Feature Film), directed by Spanky Ward; “Remembering Heaven” (Feature Documentary), directed by Tom Laughlin and Sarah Hinze; “The Stranger” (Short Film), directed by Kurt Hale; “The Most Beautiful Trail in America” (Short Film Documentary), directed by Dave Baumann and Davis Yates; and “Wonder” (Music Video), by Ryan Stream.

Daily Herald reporter Genelle Pugmire can be contacted at gpugmire@heraldextra.com, (801) 344-2910, Twitter

@gpugmire

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