Diocese of Nashville to Host Special Screening of 'Across'

Across, the short film about the boyhood of America’s first black priest, will be shown to the public at Nashville’s Catholic Pastoral Center on February 17. Admission is FREE. The screening, which begins at 2pm, is part of the diocese’s commemoration of Black History Month, and will feature a discussion panel following the film. Deacon William Hill, an expert on the history of Catholicism in the black community of Middle Tennessee, will be joined on the panel by the movie’s director, Christopher Foley. and lead actress, Nina Hibbler-Webster.

Joan Watson, the event’s organizer, feels that the story of Father Tolton - who suffered persecution for both his race and his religion - is a beacon in the long Civil Rights struggle in America. In Rome, Tolton’s cause for sainthood has advanced through the first few stages. There is a strong possibility that he will be named ‘Venerable’ this calendar year.

Across has already picked up a number of laurels at film festivals. It was filmed in the Nashville area, and features a talented cast, headlined by Hibber-Webster as Martha Tolton and Jaylon Gordon as young Gus Tolton.

Guests are encourage to RSVP on the facebook event page.

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Across to Close Out Tennessee's Franklin Fest November 4th

The short film Across will be shown at the Franklin International Independent Film Festival on Sunday, November 4th at 3pm. The screening is part of the closing block of shorts for FIIFF, the burgeoning cinema event which takes place 20 minutes south of Nashville.

The movie, which tells the story of the childhood of America’s first black priest, was produced in Middle Tennessee, and locals will recognize a number of historic landmarks. “Technically, this is our Tennessee premiere,” said director Christopher Foley. “Although we had a private event for the filmmakers earlier this year, this is the first time we have shown the project to the public here in Nashville. We are honored to be chosen by Franklin Fest, and we hope to have a great turnout.”

Those interested are encouraged to pre-purchase tickets at FIIFF.org, by clicking on Tickets, selecting Single Film Blocks, and chosing the very last option - SU-1-3 Film Block. You can also share the facebook event page.

Although it is a self-contained 1/2 hour short film, Across is also the first chapter in a proposed feature film about Father Augustine Tolton. Tolton - in addition to being an important figure in the pre-history of the Civil Rights movement - is currently being considered for canonization to sainthood by the Catholic Church.

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Franklin, TN Festival Taps 'Across' for Fall Screening

The Franklin International Independent Film Festival has chosen Across as an official selection in their 2018 line-up.  The event, which takes place just a few miles from where the majority of the film was shot, will start on November 1.  The festival runs for four days, but the screening time for the period drama has yet to be announced.

"This is exciting!" said Director Christopher Foley, "So many of our cast and crew live right in Franklin.  The overwhelming majority of us are within 30 minutes.  We hope to have a big turn-out from all around Middle Tennessee at this awesome event."

The producers chose the Nashville area for their shoot due to the gorgeous natural settings and the historic buildings from the Civil War era.  On top of that, the area is home to a growing pool of talented actors and crew members.  As the capital of not only Country Music, but Christian Music, Middle Tennessee has seen the burgeoning Faith-based film community take notice - and take root - in the rapidly expanding region.

Across is the short film about the boyhood of Father Augustine Tolton, America's first black priest.  The producers are in the process of turning the short film into a full 2-hour feature.

Keep updated on all the news from Across on their facebook page.

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Good News for 'Across' from San Francisco and Nashville

'Across,' the short film about the boyhood of the first African-American priest, has been named an official selection at the 20th Annual San Francisco Black Film Festival.  The screening will be the West Coast premiere for the movie and will occur sometime between June 14th and 17th.  The official schedule should be announced soon on the festival's website.

  "I lived in California for a decade," said director Christopher Foley, "and I am psyched for us to be a part of this renowned event.  It's an honor for our whole team."

'Across' has had an excellent week.  Just 5 days ago, the feature film project (based on the short) was one of only 10 stories chosen in Nashville Film Festival's 'Pitch, Round Three.'  Foley presented the story for a packed theater that included legendary film critic Leonard Maltin and executives from Netflix and other major studios.


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'Across' Accepted at Two Nashville Film Marketing Events

Across: The Father Tolton Movie has been accepted into BOTH of Nashville's biggest Film Marketing events.  The first is Film-Com, a Financing, Packaging and Distribution Market, that takes place June 19-22 in Music City.  Film-Com is not a festival per se, but a business convention for filmmakers to connect and create.  Across will be an "Official Selection" at the gathering, and it's poster and contact info will be available to all the attendees on the Film-Com website for an entire year.

"I am so happy to be a part of Film-Com," said Writer/Director Christopher Foley.  "This market has special significance to us because it was an event that was near and dear to Matt's heart."  Producer Matthew Cameron attended Film-Com before he ever lived in Nashville, and cited it's friendly atmosphere as one of the main reasons he decided to move to Middle Tennessee.  Cameron passed away during post production of the Across short film, and the movie - as well as the effort to flip it into a full feature film - is dedicated to his memory.

Across has also made it to Round Two of "The Pitch" at May's Nashville Film Festival.  Like Film-Com, "The Pitch" is an opportunity for filmmakers to bring their feature film project to the attention of producers and collaborators from around the country.

The Across team hopes to establish many relationships at both events in their effort to bring Father Tolton, the first African American priest, to the attention of a wider audience.

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Hero of 'Across' Takes Next Step Toward Sainthood

Exciting news from Chicago this week came in the form of an announcement about the true-life hero of Across.  Father Augustine Tolton has passed the next stage on his road to Sainthood.  The "positio" or historical account of his life has been unanimously approved by the historical and theological commission in the Vatican.  This crucial stage makes it very likely "Father Gus" will be named Venerable next February.  After that, the commission will look for proof of actual miracles associated with Tolton in order to name him "Beatified" - the final stage before Canonization.

Christopher Foley, the writer/director of Across, the film about Tolton's life, was ecstatic.  "Father Gus is a true American hero, and every step he makes in this process will bring him to the attention of more and more people.  We cannot wait to share his story to all who seek him out."  Across is currently a short film about Tolton's boyhood attempt to escape slavery.  However, the filmmakers are in the process of flipping the short into a 2-hour feature, in order to reach a wider audience. 

More details about this story can be found on the Diocese of Chicago's website - CLICK HERE>

A photograph of Father Tolton looks over the actor playing him, Jaylon Gordon and Director Christopher Foley

A photograph of Father Tolton looks over the actor playing him, Jaylon Gordon and Director Christopher Foley

'Across' Selected for World Music & International Film Festival

The World Music & International Film Festival has officially selected 'Across' for their 10th annual celebration and competition next January.  The short film about America's first black priest was also nominated in FIVE individual categories:

  • Best Director (Christopher Foley)
  • Best Cinematography (Logen Christopher)
  • Best Actor (Dan Michael)
  • Best Young Actor (Jaylon Gordon)
  • Best Costume Design (Yoshie Lewis)

WMIFF is a unique celebration of movies and music that takes place each year on a cruise ship.  The 2019 edition will be departing from Tampa, Florida on January 26.  For more information about the festival, click here.

Across' Facebook page blew up with congratulatory comments when the news went out earlier today.  The team behind the historic drama are proud to be a part of WMIFF.


Catholic Family News Promotes 'Across' at Annual Conference

Director Christopher Foley spoke about Across: The Father Tolton Movie to a full house at the Catholic Family News conference last week.  The annual gathering took place in the Chicago area, which was also the site of Tolton's apostolate in the last part of the 19th century.  In conjunction with the the conference, CFN published an article in the April edition introducing their readership to both 'Father Gus' himself and the film.

Foley took questions about the plan to turn the project into a feature-length movie.  He explained how Tolton suffered much in his quest to become the first African-American priest.  "His courageous example is a shining example to people of all races and all times," Foley remarked.

Foley was introduced to the article's author, Susan Vennari, through her 90-year-old mother, Joan Hoffsommer.  The director and his wife had been driving Mrs. Hoffsommer to church each week as she suffered through a debilitating leg infection.  At his suggestion, she had decided to pray for Father Tolton's intercession to restore her health.  She recovered so quickly that she decided to write her story down for the committee who is considering Tolton for sainthood.


Red Carpet Premiere Celebrates "Across"

Cast and crew gathered last night to celebrate the completion of the short film, "Across."  Loud applause erupted from the Theater of Watkins College and tears were shed for the touching period drama.

The night opened with some music by The Long Goners, including the first live performance of the movie's theme, "North Star."  The film's collaborators gathered on a red carpet in front of the new official poster.  Director Christopher Foley thanked his hard working team, with special mention of his wife Mary Beth and his co-producer, Matthew Cameron, who passed away after filming was completed last fall.

"Across" is now preparing to enter film festivals while actively looking for investors to turn the short into a feature film.

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