Welcome to Anthem 2014!
Anthem Film Festival's Featured Films for 2014

More than 1,000 viewers flocked to the Celebrity Ballroom at Planet Hollywood for the Anthem Libertarian Film Festival's opening night event, a sneak preview of Atlas Shrugged: Who is John Galt? The final installment of the cinematic trilogy based on Ayn Rand's magnum opus was warmly received, and after the screening audience members enjoyed red-carpet photo opportunities with several cast members, including Kristoffer Polaha, who plays John Galt, and Dominic Daniel, who plays Eddie Willers.

Kristoffer Polaha (John Galt), Jo Ann Skousen (festival director)
and Harmon Kaslow (Atlas Shrugged producer) enjoy a moment on the red carpet
(Photo: snakemannn.com)

AS3, as it is affectionately called, won the Anthem award for Best Narrative Feature. In receiving the award, executive producer John Aglialoro commented wryly, "When I bought the rights to Atlas Shrugged I had mostly black hair!" Then he added pensively, "That was in August of 1992. I thought it would take a year or two to make the film. After all, it was one of the ten most influential books ever written. I thought after a year or two I would go to Valhalla, where Ayn Rand is buried, and say, 'Well, we did it!' But it didn't happen after a year or two, or three or four. So it is a great comfort in my soul that I will be able to go to her graveside now and say, 'We did it.' And hopefully she'll say-maybe I'll hear it in the wind or in the leaves of the trees-- 'Well done.'"

As they surveyed the vast audience already seated half an hour before the screening was scheduled to begin, Atlas Shrugged producer Harmon Kaslow congratulated Anthem's founding director Jo Ann Skousen on the rapid growth of the festival and foreshadowed Aglialoro's words. "We did it!" he exclaimed, recalling earlier seasons of the festival when Kaslow and Aglialoro brought clips and snippets to share with Anthem audiences and reported on their works in progress. Skousen agreed. "Anthem started four years ago in a 100-seat conference room, and now look at us: we're in the Celebrity Ballroom with over a thousand viewers!" Showing this major film was particularly significant for this festival, since Anthem takes its name from Ayn Rand's earlier novel, Anthem.

Dinesh D’Souza autographs books after a successful screening to over a thousand viewers.
(Photo: snakemannn.com)

An equally vast and eager crowd of more than 1,000 attendees returned to the Ballroom Friday night for the screening of America: Imagine the World Without Her, Dinesh D'Souza's new documentary that refutes what he calls "the shaming of America." In the film D'Souza acknowledges five areas in which America stands accused, including theft of land, life, and liberty from Native Americans, African Americans, Mexicans, economically under-privileged Americans, and foreign lands (through war and imperialism). The film then provides a broader historical perspective by imagining a world without America's positive influence, including ending slavery and giving most residents the chance to achieve the American Dream. The film met with enthusiastic approval from an audience that was often moved to tears of emotion. Viewers stayed for nearly an hour of Q & A with D'Souza, and then lined up to get autographed books and posters. America won the Anthem award for Best Documentary.

Enthusiastic audience waits to enter the theater.
(Photo: Matt Wood)

In between these two blockbuster films, Anthem audiences enjoyed over a dozen documentaries and narrative features in the comfortable 300-seat Sin City Theater, which was often close to capacity. In fact, at one point the line of viewers waiting to enter the theater snaked completely across the exhibit hall.

Co-producer of Poverty, Inc. Mark Weber and Acton Institute executive director Kris Mauren
have no idea that a hat trick is on the way.
(Photo: Matt Wood)

The FreedomFest Grand Prize was awarded to Poverty, Inc., which began its feedback tour at Anthem. This compelling documentary, sponsored by the Acton Institute, presents an eye-opening perspective on the unintended consequences of foreign aid and offers market solutions to world poverty. Philip Sansone, director of Whole Planet Foundation and a participant in the panel that followed the screening said of the film, "If I could make a movie about this topic, this is the one I would make.... This film will be required viewing for our entire Whole Planet team." In addition to winning the FreedomFest Grand Prize, Poverty, Inc. also won the Anthem award for Excellence in Filmmaking and the Audience Choice award with a 4.7 approval rating (on a scale of 5). Go to povertyinc.org for more information.

John Stossel interviews Tim Delmastro about his film, Freedom from Choice,
which won the award for Best International Documentary.
(Photo: snakemannn.com)

Close on its heels as a candidate for the Grand Prize was Freedom from Choice, Tim Delmastro's fine film about Big Brother and the nanny state. Delmastro identifies several areas in which the government sticks its nose unnecessarily (and often detrimentally) into our business. It includes interviews with Peter Schiff and Jeff Berwick, who joined the panel after the screening to discuss the issues presented in the film. The film won the Anthem prize for Best International Documentary, and libertarian journalist John Stossel interviewed Delmastro during the Thursday evening taping of his tv show. (The Stossel FreedomFest show has become an annual event and can be seen on Fox Business and Fox News.)

FreedomFest Producer Mark Skousen greets Kristoffer Polaha (John Galt).
(Photo: Matt Wood)

Now beginning its fifth season, the Anthem Libertarian Film Festival is part of FreedomFest, an annual celebration of ideas that has been described as "the world's greatest gathering of free thinkers" and "Disneyland for the mind." With over 200 speakers, 2,000 attendees, and ten events going on at the same time, the hardest part is choosing what to attend. One film viewer said, "Film offers a better way of viewing important issues than just sitting in a lecture hall-I'm going to the movies!" Another said, "I signed up to buy the FreedomFest audio tapes so I could stay in the theater and watch all the films!"

Kels Goodman celebrates his win for Excellence in Filmmaking with his wife, Stephanie.

Filmmakers had a blast too. "It was awesome!" said Kels Goodman, director of The Last Eagle Scout. "I'm eager to come back next year-with a brand new film." Goodman reported making several important contacts with potential supporters during the festival. Nicole Greco, who directed 100 Signatures, called Anthem "one of the most dynamic and beneficial film festivals ever." She added, "We are honored to be here and find it encouraging to meet so many like-minded people."

Panelists Gary Alexander, Jeff Berwick, Peter Schiff and Doug Casey discuss Tim Delmatro's Freedom from Choice.
(Photo: Matt Wood)

Awards host Chip Wood noted, "In the past several years, many things have grown at FreedomFest, but very few have grown in size, significance and popularity nearly as much as the Anthem Film Festival. It began as an idea of Jo Ann Skousen four years ago with some small, interesting presentations; this year she had literally thousands of people watching some fascinating independent films." Anthem is indeed bigger and better than ever. We can't wait to see what films are submitted next season.

Hayley Skousen bestows trophies at the Awards Banquet.
(Photo: Matt Wood)

Here is the complete list of Anthem winners this year:

FreedomFest Grand Prize

Poverty, Inc. Michael Matheson Miller, director; Mark Weber, co-producer

Narrative Feature

Best Overall: Atlas Shrugged: Who is John Galt? James Manera, director; John Aglialoro, executive producer

Excellence in Filmmaking: The Last Eagle Scout, Kels Goodman, director

Best Libertarian Ideals: Collapse, Dave McCormick, director

Documentary Feature

Best Overall: America: Imagine the World Without Her, Dinesh D'Souza and John Sullivan, directors; Gerald Molen, producer

Excellence in Filmmaking: Poverty, Inc. Michael Matheson Miller, director

Best Libertarian Ideals: Dog Days, Kasey Kirby and Laura Waters Hinson, directors

International Documentary

Best Overall: Freedom from Choice, Tim Delmastro, director

Excellence in Filmmaking: Exit, Klaus Erik Okstad, Olav Njaastad, Anders Somme, directors

Short Narrative

Best Overall: Cough, Jason Kempnich, director

Short Documentary

Best Overall: No Vans Land, Sean Malone, director

Excellence in Filmmaking: Don't Cage My Speech! A Student Schools his College, Ted Balaker, director

Best Libertarian Ideals: Before Snowden: Behind the Curtain, Bill and Tricia Owen, directors

Audience Choice Awards

Feature Length: Poverty, Inc. Michael Matheson Miller, director

Short: The Ticket: Stories of Choice in Education, Bob Bowdon, director

Executive Director of AS3 John Aglialoro and his wife Joan Carter wait hopefully
for the Best Narrative Feature award to be announced.,
(Photo: Matt Wood)

Who is John Galt? Dominic Daniel (Eddie Willers) knows it’s Kristoffer Polaha!
(Photo: snakemannn.com)

Brad and Kristen Warren accept Collapse's award for Best Libertarian Ideals
on behalf of director Dave McCormick, who was on deployment.,
(Photo: Matt Wood)

Festival director Jo Ann Skousen congratulates Bob Bowdon
for winning the Audience Choice Award
for The Ticket: Stories of School Choice and Quality Education,
(Photo: Matt Wood)

Lana Harfoush (Dog Days) and Sean Malone (No Vans Land) participate
in the entrepreneurship panel "Small Companies, Big Dreams".

(Photo: Matt Wood)

Festival director Jo Ann Skousen introduces Dinesh D’Souza
to an enthusiastic crowd of over a thousand filmgoers.,
(Photo: snakemannn.com)


See you at Anthem 2015!

July 9-12, 2014    |    Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas