ZENITH has been awarded a top prize at the MOVIEGUIDE (tm) awards! ZENITH has won a special "Crystal Teddy" for BEST DOCUMENTARY of 2003! Thanks to everyone who made this possible!

The 12 Annual Movieguide Awards have long been considered the Christian Academy Awards within the TV and Film industries. ZENITH was also nominated for the TEMPLETON EPIPHANY PRIZE. Although ZENITH did not win this award (the winner was a Hallmark film directed by Michael Landon Jr. called LOVE COMES SOFTLY) - this is still a prestigious honor.

The awards ceremony was held at the Bevely Regent Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, March 24th, 2004. The Awards Ceremony will be televised on PAX later this summer. The awards gala was wonderful. Production members who attended the gala were, Kirsten Tretbar (director), her mother, Kathleen Tretbar, her brother and co-producer, Eric Tretbar, co-producer Pamela Calvert, and Kirsten's husband, Ozzy Ben, and Pam's friend, an ordained Quaker Minister from Oregon. Unfortunately Kirsten's producer and cousin, Lesa Paulsen, was unable to attend because her cows were calving (quite literally!) back in Zenith, Kansas!

It was quite a night! ZENITH was up for two awards, so two different clips of the film were shown on a big screen. Other films that won awards were big budget films like FINDING NEMO and MASTER AND COMMANDER. The audience at the ceremony totalled around 750 - and there were many celebrities.

Kirsten was the only WOMAN director/producer who won an award all night (out of about 25 films)! In her acceptance speech for "Best Documentary" Kirsten spoke for about a minute and thanked "all the people in all the rural churches across America who work so hard to help keep their small towns united and inspired! This award is for rural churches everywhere!" Many people at the event told Kirsten her's was the best acceptance speech all night. Pictures from the event coming soon."

The G.R.I.T. screening of ZENITH, at the LA Film School, was AMAZING! Thanks to everyone who came and showed their support for women filmmakers (Girls Reeling It Together) and for ZENITH! GREAT reviews of ZENITH on the WWW.FILMTHREAT.COM film web-site, by Phil Hall (he gave it 3 1/2 stars!) and a major article was written in the LA Times, by Susan Carpentar, about the event. Also, the LA WEEKLY's film critic, Mark Olsen, reviewed ZENITH, and said: "With a keen eye for the strange, minimalist beauty of the plains landscape, Tretbar presents an openhearted and inspirational look at the independent family farmers who...struggle to find meaning in their lives and locate it in something none of them seems to have expected!" Over 200 people attended this event! The audience laughed and cried through the film and Kirsten held an intense Q & A afterwards. Many of ZENITH's crew were there, watching the completed film for the first time -- including editor, Derek Goodall, composers, Jim Studer and David Scheibner, and narrator, Don Martin.

Shawn and Genevieve were two of the original four founders of G.R.I.T. two years ago. Shawn continues to hold screenings and events in LA.

This year's G.R.I.T. 2002 host was director, VICKY JENSON, who co-directed the Academy Award winning SHREK! Vicky spoke before the screening and really made some powerful points about women filmmakers needing more support.

ZENITH screened Friday, September 20th at 7:00pm, and Sunday, September 22nd, at 1:00pm, at the new, IFP NORTH, CENTRAL STANDARD FILM FESTIVAL -- at the Apache theatre. Kirsten, Ozzy Ben, and Eric Tretbar attended. Thanks to all who came and saw the movie, and for supporting this wonderful new festival.

ZENITH is now officially endorsed by: The National Council of Churches, The Presbyterian Church USA, The UCC, The Mennonites, The Evangelical Lutheran Church, The Church of the Brethren, The Episcopalian Church, and The National Catholic Rural Life Conference.

Several church web-sites and media brochures are promoting ZENITH.

JULY 2, 2002
ZENITH is shown at the Annual Conference for the Church of the Brethren, in Louisville, Kentucky, to over 2000 church leaders.

MAY 2002
ZENITH screens in Dallas, at the Angelika Film Center and Cafe, at the prestigious Dallas USA Film Festival to a sold out audience of 300!

APRIL 2002
ZENITH screened in Kansas City, at The 2002 KC Filmmakers Jubilee Film Festival -- at The Tivoli Theatres in Manor Square Westport to a sold out audience of 300! Unfortunately, we had to turn away 200 people. We're sorry if you had to sit in the aisles.

Several major newspaper articles were written in April, about ZENITH and the film was reviewed by many top national critics, and network anchors.

Highlights of KC festival screening:

After the credits rolled the audience stayed behind and clapped for a long minute while the lights came up. Lesa and Kirsten (the producers) answered questions and spoke about making the movie. At one point a woman in the audience yelled, "How can we become members of the Dwilette Paulsen Fan Club?" Dwilette is the woman who teaches Adult Sunday School in the film, and many consider her the movie's star.

Kirsten replied with a laugh, "I don't know - why don't you ask her yourself!?" Dwilette, sitting in the second row with her kids and grandchildren who now live in Kansas City, immediately jumped up. The audience cheered. She bowed and held a big bunch of Passion Play Flyers high in the air, and began passing them out throughout the theatre!

When asked about the state of farming today in Zenith, Kansas -- Lesa, a working farmer herself, beautifully answered several questions. Eventually, she handed the microphone to Dwilette, since Dwilette worked as a Kansas Farm Census taker for the last several years. Dwilette stood up and turned back to the audience, holding the room's attention for about 10 minutes, while she answered the questions with amazing intelligence, wit, charm, and knowledge. The audience fell in love with Dwilette. Her presence made this evening!

Overall, it was an incredibly inspirational screening! We felt very encouraged by this night, since Deborah Winger and her husband Arlis, had screened their film the night before. ZENITH had an even bigger 'sold out' screening than this famous couple's film!

Audience comments from the KC screening:

One weepy man came up to Kirsten after the screening and said, "For various personal reasons, I have stopped going to church, and don't like religion. Your film made me realize that I DO care about God. And that religion isn't always a bad thing. Thank you!" Another audience memeber, a KC native in her 80s, said, "ZENITH made me realize why God put man on this Earth!"

ZENITH is screened to the people of Zenith and Stafford, Kansas, at the lovely, historic Ritz Cinema, on the Main street of Stafford. We had two screenings on Sunday, in the afternoon and evening.

ZENITH is finally finished and screens at the prestigious New York IFP Market, 2pm at the Angelika Theatre. ZENITH is one of only 30 other finished documentary features at the market this year.

Feel free to email us and tell us what YOU think of ZENITH!!

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