Series of Screenings Push New Tolton Film Forward

A number of screenings of the Father Augustine Tolton short film, Across, have brought fresh interest to the project. Writer/Director Christopher Foley traveled to Birmingham, Louisville, Indianapolis and Tolton’s home-town of Quincy, Illinois to show the movie and share the full story of the first African American Catholic priest. All of the screenings were well-attended, with Quincy having to expand to four start-times to accommodate everyone. Local news coverage brought additional attention to the events.

The showings coincided with the final week of the Crowd-Investing initiative that the filmmakers set-up to obtain the development money for the feature film. With the interest gained at the events, the $107,000 goal was surpassed well before the August 15 deadline. Foley said that the next stage for the production is to attach a well-known actor to the project before raising the rest of the film’s budget.

“It was wonderful to meet so many people who were eager to hear Father Tolton’s story,” said Foley. “It gave us all a little hint of how big of an impact the full movie will have.” Each screening of the 36-minute short film was followed by a historical presentation about Tolton’s life and the process to have him canonized a saint by the Vatican.

In June, Pope Francis raised the priest - who lived from 1854 to 1897 - to ‘Venerable,’ which is just two steps from sainthood. That publicity led EWTN to obtain the rights to broadcast the short film on December 18, along with a live interview with Foley and the postulator for Tolton’s canonization, Bishop Joseph Perry.

The Quincy screening was especially important to Foley because it was where Tolton spent most of his life. Additionally, Foley’s college roommate, Father Joseph Portzer is the new pastor of St.Rose parish, where the showing was held. Foley told the crowd that there was still much work to do to finish the feature film, but felt they had a tremendous start. “If God wants this film to move forward, as it seems He does, “ said Portzer, “each obstacle will yield to prayer and work.”