NEW YORK, March 22, 2023 — The theme of people looking beyond their own needs to help others runs through the 21 films, TV programs, and books for adults and young people being honored with Christopher Awards in the program’s 74th year. Winners include Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and author Jon Meacham and groundbreaking actress/writer/director/producer Bonnie Hunt.
The Christopher Awards celebrate writers, producers, directors, authors, and illustrators whose work “affirms the highest values of the human spirit” and reflects the Christopher motto, “It’s better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.” Tony Rossi, The Christophers’ Director of Communications, said, “The stories we’re honoring acknowledge that the struggles we endure in life coexist with beauty and hope when we work together, despite our differences, to add love and healing to our world.”
Winners in the various categories are:
TV, Cable, & Streaming
In Amber Brown (Apple TV +)—the family comedy series developed, written, directed, and executive produced by Bonnie Hunt—the compassionate 11-year-old title character befriends an elderly widow at a nursing home and takes her on an outing that is both comical and touching in the episodes “Love is Here to Stay” and “Life.” American Masters: Marian Anderson: The Whole World in Her Hands (PBS) profiles the groundbreaking African American contralto and civil rights pioneer whose success opened the door for other Black performers in classical music. The docuseries 11 Minutes (Paramount Plus) immerses viewers in the 2017 mass shooting at a Las Vegas concert, highlighting the citizens and first responders who risked their lives to save others—and the healing they found in community with each other.
Facing Suicide (PBS) explores the plague of suicides afflicting the U.S., offers concrete stories of hope from those who avoided this fatal step, and destigmatizes the topic of mental health challenges so those who suffer can find the help they need. In The Gift of Peace (Hallmark Movies & Mysteries), an artist, who is angry at God after her husband’s death, journeys through grief towards healing after joining a support group in which the bereaved help ease each other’s burdens. Gratitude for family, old and new, lies at the heart of A Waltons Thanksgiving (The CW), in which a heroic and good-hearted young boy who is abused by his foster father seeks sanctuary with the loving Depression-era family.
The documentary The Best We’ve Got: The Carl Erskine Story (Ted Green Films) highlights the former Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers star’s successes on the baseball diamond, as well as his commitment to promoting racial equality and his advocacy for those with intellectual challenges after his son was born with Down syndrome. In the comedy drama A Man Called Otto (Columbia Pictures/A Sony Company), a curmudgeonly senior, bereft after the death of his wife, discovers that he still has reasons for living when he allows himself to share and receive the love of those around him. Mother Teresa: No Greater Love (Castletown Media) travels to five continents to profile Mother Teresa’s legacy of serving Christ in the poor, as well as her apostolate’s current work bringing comfort to the dying, food to the poor, hope to prisoners and addicts, and love to everyone they come in contact with.
Books for Adults
In American Sirens (Hachette Books), author Kevin Hazzard shares the largely unknown story of the African American men in 1960s and 70s Pittsburgh who became this country’s first paramedics, saved countless lives, and set the gold standard for emergency medicine around the world. Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Jon Meacham’s And There Was Light (Random House/Penguin Random House) explores the roots of Abraham Lincoln’s belief in Providence and a “transcendent moral order,” which guided his efforts to end slavery while preserving the Union against forces of racism, money, and power. Father Ed (Orbis Books) by Dawn Eden Goldstein delves into the life of Father Ed Dowling, S.J., the Jesuit priest who became Alcoholics Anonymous founder Bill Wilson’s spiritual sponsor, fostered the growth of AA among Catholics, championed civil rights and social justice issues, and tirelessly ministered to those with nervous disorders, troubled marriages, and anyone in need of help.
Following the devastating murder of her daughter by her ex-husband, Michelle D. Hord turns her attention to pursuing justice, healing her emotional wounds with God’s help, and helping others find light in the midst of their own darkness in her powerful memoir The Other Side of Yet (Atria Books/Simon & Schuster). In Sisters of Mokama (Viking/Penguin Random House), New York Times editor Jyoti Thottam reveals the never-before-told story of six Kentucky nuns who traveled to the poorest state in India to build a hospital that served everyone, regardless of caste or religion, and offered new opportunities to women there looking to pursue careers in the medical field. The memoir Wild Ride (Convergent Books/Penguin Random House) follows Hayley Arceneaux’s improbable and faith-filled journey from 10-year-old cancer patient at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, to physician’s assistant at St. Jude’s years later, to her journey into space as an astronaut on the Inspiration4 mission.
Books for Young People
In Feathers From Above by Kathleen Davis, illustrated by Martyna Nejman (Preschool and up, Kathleen Davis Books), children learn to see the feathers that show up in random places as having come from their guardian angels, who watch over them always because of God’s love. “Kindness grows friendships” is the theme at the heart of Wolves Aren’t Welcome by Cheryl Benner, illustrated by Jeffrey Ebbeler, (Kindergarten and up, Wild Iris Publishing), about Gabbaluchie, a genial wolf who has to overcome stereotypes when looking for a new place to live. Remember Us with Smiles by Grace and Gary Jansen, illustrated by Barbara Bongini (ages 6 and up, Loyola Press) celebrates the extraordinary ordinary moments of life between parents and children that create a lifetime of memories.
Inspired by author and illustrator John Parra’s childhood, Growing an Artist (ages 7 and up, A Paula Wiseman Book/Simon & Schuster) follows Juanito as he joins his Papi for a hard but satisfying day of work as a landscape architect and discovers his own artistic talents in the process. The novel-in-verse Alias Anna by Susan Hood with Greg Dawson (ages 10 and up, Harper Collins Publishers) shares the real-life story of two Ukrainian Jewish teenagers whose piano playing talents helped them outwit the Nazis, survive the Holocaust, and build new lives in the United States. The Young Adult adaptation of Adam Makos’s best-seller Devotion (Delacorte Press/Penguin Random House) details the true story of two U.S. Navy pilots during the Korean War who move beyond their different racial and economic backgrounds to become close friends that risk their lives for their country and for each other.
The Christophers, a nonprofit founded in 1945 by Maryknoll Father James Keller, is rooted in the Judeo-Christian tradition of service to God and humanity. The ancient Chinese proverb—“It’s better to light one candle than to curse the darkness”— guides its publishing, radio, and awards programs. More information about The Christophers is available at www.christophers.org. [Editors: A complete list of winners is available on request.]
Social media: #ChristopherAwards, Facebook: The Christophers / Twitter: @ChristophersInc
- Actress Bonnie Hunt on Powerful Storytelling, Facing Life’s Challenges, and Divine Intervention
- “Amber Brown” is a Gem of a Family Comedy from the Creative Heart and Mind of Bonnie Hunt
- Hallmark actress Nikki DeLoach on Moving Through Grief to Find Joy and ‘The Gift of Peace’
- Hayley Arceneaux’s Road from Cancer Patient to Astronaut (with Help from St. Jude’s)
- Author Explores Father Ed Dowling’s Ministry to Alcoholics, the Suffering, and Marginalized
- New Book Profiles Ukrainian Teenager Who Outwitted the Nazis and Survived the Holocaust
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