Eucharistic Film Festival + Feature Film Pitch Night

December 04, 2023

On Nov. 30th, JPCatholic hosted a joint event combining our 3rd Annual Pitch Night for the Feature Film Program, with a special Eucharistic Film Festival.

Hosted at the Ritz Theater in Escondido, the event began with screening five short films (live action and animated) centered around the theme of the Eucharist.

The festival was created due to an anonymous donation by a seminarian last year. Before joining the seminary, he abandoned his worldly possessions and entrusted a generous gift to Tom Esposito – the parent of a JPCatholic student – with a simple commission, that the money be used “to make Jesus more loved, known, and adored in the Eucharist.”

Esposito collaborated with JPCatholic’s film faculty and arranged for a Eucharistic Film Festival. Students and alumni would use their talents to create film projects advancing that goal, with the top films earning a cash prize. Eleven projects were submitted, and five were chosen as finalists to be screened at the festival.

The panel of judges included faculty George Simon and Kaitlyn Krikorian, along with Catholic film and media professionals Jim Morlino, Gary Gasse, and Alexis Walkenstein.

Before the announcement of the festival winners, our 3rd Annual Pitch Night gave five students the chance to propose their projects as candidates for JPCatholic’s Feature Film Program, followed by immediate feedback from a panel of film and storytelling professionals.

The projects pitched were:

  • The 2% by Avila Dauvin ‘24
    After receiving her DNA test results, 62-year-old Meryl Forrest is overcome with a desire to rediscover her Malian roots. Her adult son Foster takes matters into his own hands and convinces Meryl they are in Mali when in reality, they are at the Imperial Sand Dunes of California.
  • Kicking the Bucket List by Ryan Carrell ‘24
    Henry is struggling to come to terms with his father’s death and after learning of his neighbor’s haunted car, he plans to use its ghost to reunite with his lost dad, but the ghost won’t help Henry until he has completed his unfinished business – his bucket list.
  • In Lieu of Flowers by Joe Donelson ‘24 and Timothy Johnson ‘24
    Frank falls in love with a girl who, unbeknownst to him, has a terminal illness. When she dies, he is pulled by her priest older brother into an unhinged plan to steal her body from her own funeral.
  • A Pickle for Pickleball by Anna Engel ‘24
    When word breaks out that the Joann Fabrics will be demolished and turned into pickleball courts, three bickering old ladies who have hated each other their whole lives join forces to save it.

All of the projects pitched have complete or near-complete scripts, and finalists will be chosen for further development as part of the “Feature Film: Rewriting” class next quarter.

At the conclusion of the event, Prof. George Simon announced the winners of the Eucharistic Film Festival:

    1st Place ($5,000):
    Kairos by Jozef Raiche ‘26
    Watch Film

    2nd Place ($2,000):
    The Food That Truly Satisfies by Simon Michael ‘23
    Watch Film

    3rd Place ($1,000):
    Abide by Alan Hewitt ‘23
    Watch Film

“It was very heartening to see what God inspired in these students,” said Esposito. “There is clearly a great deal of talent and skill here. It is my hope and prayer that each takes the school’s mission—‘impact culture for Christ’—as their own and places their gifts at the service of God and His Kingdom. This world greatly needs what they have to offer.”