NEW YORK — The theatrical features “Instant Family” and “Paul, Apostle of Christ” were named winners of Christopher Awards in the award program’s 70th anniversary.
Other winners announced April 9 included the Lifetime biopic “Faith Under Fire: The Antoinette Tuff Story” and “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” — the documentary on “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood” host and creator Fred Rogers.
This year’s winners “highlight the power of community and common purpose, the positive difference that love and perseverance can make in the lives of the lost or lonely, and the struggle to find God’s presence and light, even in the darkest of circumstances,” said an April 9 statement from Tony Rossi, the Christophers’ director of communications.
“Instant Family” delivered a message strongly in favor of foster parenting. In “Paul, Apostle of Christ,” St. Paul and the evangelist St. Luke courageously struggle to live out the Gospel in ways that model forgiveness and love that stems from a divine source as the early Christians are being persecuted by Roman emperor Nero.
“Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” highlighted the lessons of kindness, empathy and respect that Rogers — himself a former Christopher Award winner — embodied and passed on to children through his PBS series. “Faith Under Fire” tells the true story of the bookkeeper at a Georgia school who used kindness to convince an armed, mentally ill young man who entered the school in 2013 and threatened to kill all the children to instead surrender peacefully.
Another feature film winner was “Ben Is Back,” which chronicles a mother’s unyielding commitment to saving her 19-year-old son from the scourge of opioid addiction when he returns home from rehab despite unexpected temptations and dark elements of his past.
Other TV and cable winners were:
— PBS’ “The Mayo Clinic: Faith, Hope, Science,” which detailed the partnership between the Mayo family and the Sisters of St. Francis in 1883 that led to the creation of an institution world-renowned for medicine, compassion and spirituality.
— “One Way Out: Thailand Cave Rescue,” from ABC’s “20/20,” on the successful effort to rescue 12 boys and their soccer coach trapped in a network of flooded caves.
— PBS’ “The Homeless Chorus Speaks” profiling San Diego musicians Nina Deering and Steph Johnson, who formed a choir made up of homeless people, giving them a sense of fellowship and hope.
— Facebook Watch’s “Returning the Favor,” featuring Mike Rowe, who rewards volunteers working to change their communities in positive ways.
Winners in the Books for Adults category were: “Everything Happens for a Reason: and Other Lies I’ve Loved” by Kate Bowler; “Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom” by David W. Blight; “One Beautiful Dream” by Jennifer Fulwiler; “The Strange Case of Dr. Couney” by Dawn Raffel; and “The Sun Does Shine” by Anthony Ray Hinton with Lara Love Hardin.
Winners in the Books for Young People category, by age group: “Eraser” by Anna Kang, illustrated by Christopher Weyant, preschool and up; “The World Is Awake” by Linsey Davis with Joseph Bottum, illustrated by Lucy Fleming, kindergarten and up; “Rescue and Jessica,” co-authored by Patrick Downes and Jessica Kensky, illustrated by Scott Magoon, ages 6 and up; “The Ostrich and Other Lost Things” by Beth Hautala, ages 8 and up; “To the Moon” by Jeffrey Kluger with Ruby Shamir, ages 10 and up; and “Tight” by Torrey Maldonado, young adults.
The awards will be conferred May 23 in New York.
The Christophers, founded in 1945 by Maryknoll Father James Keller, is rooted in the Judeo-Christian tradition of service to God and humanity, using the ancient Chinese proverb “It’s better to light one candle than to curse the darkness” to guide its publishing, radio and awards programs.