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By excluding Mel Gibsons The Passion of the Christ from all high-profile nominations, the Academy Awards voters shut out one of the years biggest box-office hits that also won its share of enthusiastic critical praiseand even swept to victory as Favorite Drama in the public voting for the Peoples Choice Awards, said movie critic Michael Medved in a USA Today article (1/25/2005). Medved pointed out, But far greater religious controversy didn’t scare away the Academy 16 years ago, when its members honored Martin Scorsese with a surprise best-director nomination for The Last Temptation of Christ, despite impassioned condemnation of the film by many of the same mainstream Catholic and Protestant groups that enthusiastically supported The Passion. Moreover, The Last Temptation made no impact on the moviegoing public to compel Oscar attentionearning a paltry $8 million domestic gross compared with the staggering $370 million for The Passion.

Templeton Foundation to remedy that with $50,000 Epiphany Prizes for Inspiring Films and Television

Once again, one of the most popular and critically-acclaimed movies of the year, The Passion of The Christ, was mostly overlooked by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, when it announced its Oscar Award nominations this morning. While the film was
nominated in three lesser categoriescinematography, make-up and original scoreit was bypassed for such key categories as best picture, best director, and best actor (for Jim Caviezel).

Other less religious, but still uplifting and inspiring films, also went
unnoticed by the Academy. To remedy this oversight, the John Templeton Foundation, named for Sir John Templeton, has established the $50,000 Epiphany Prizes for Inspiring Movies & TV. Each year, these
prizes are awarded to films and programs that meet high artistic
standards, but also have a subject matter that creates a deeper spiritual
awareness in mankind and increases mans love and understanding of God.

Several of these worthy productions will be listed as contenders for the
John Templeton Foundation 2005 Epiphany Prizes, which nominees will be announced Wednesday, February 2, at 9:30 a.m., at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotels Cinegrill.

The Templeton Foundation has awarded the Epiphany Prize for more than
eight years in an effort to encourage filmmakers and television producers to
create movies and shows with uplifting, inspirational content. Past
winners of the Epiphany Prizes have been The Prince Of Egypt, Amistad, 7th Heaven, Jag, Touched By An Angel, and The Gospel Of John.

The task of awarding the Epiphany Prizes is assigned to the Christian
Film and Television CommissionT and its chairman, Dr. Ted Baehr, who conceived of the prizes with Sir John Templeton. I fear the Oscars are going to become irrelevant if the Academy continues
to honor films of this artsy vein, and disregard other very good films
that were also popular favoritesfilms such as The Passion of the Christ and The Incredibles, Dr. Baehr said. During the Golden Age of Hollywood, the Oscars represented the best of the best. If they have
simply become a clone of the Golden Globes, then they serve no purpose.
The people have already voted with such enthusiastic response to The Passion and The Incredibles, and I think Oscar is speeding its own demise by continually ignoring the well-informed opinion of the movie-going public.

Dr. Baehr will announce the nominees for the John Templeton Foundation 2005
Epiphany Prizes next Wednesday, with the winners to be unveiled at the Thirteenth Annual Movieguide Faith & Values Awards Gala and Report to
Hollywood, which will be held Thursday evening, February 24, at the
Beverly Hilton. This years theme is Passion and Purpose, in a subtle
nod to a leading contender for the award. In addition to the Epiphany
Prizes for the Most Inspirational Movie and TV Program of 2004, the
commission awards Teddy awards for the Ten Best Family Films, the Ten
Best Films for Mature Audiences of the year, and the Grace Awards for the
Most Inspirational Acting in Movies and TV in 2004.

The latest updates and information on the Epiphany Prizes are now
available online at, as well as the list of previous winners
and nominees, and the criteria for nomination. Limited seating is available for the Awards Dinner and Gala. For information or tickets, call 1-800-577-6684.