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Best Screenplay Award

Best Screenplay Award

Christopher Bessette holds his Best Screenplay award at CIFF 2019. Pictured from left: Jason Barbeck, festival director; Christopher Bessette, series creator, executive producer, Prophets & Kings; Lana King, executive producer, Prophets & Kings; and Rafael Kalamat, festival director. (CIFF PHOTO)

Excerpt from Niagara College Canada Press Release, posted September 19, 2019 by Julie Greco in Development and Alumni Relations

Niagara College prof, alum hailed ‘one of the finest biblical screenwriters of our time’

Christopher Bessette is on a winning streak.

The multi-award-winning filmmaker, author, and part-time faculty member at Niagara College – as well as an alumnus – reeled in an award for the second consecutive year at the star- studded Canadian International Faith & Family Film Festival (CIFF) in Toronto on September 15.

Bessette won Best Screenplay for his epic television series pilot Prophets & Kings, which is being developed with Lana King, former executive of Fox Broadcasting and the Hallmark Channel. The multi-award-winning filmmaker, author, and part-time faculty member at Niagara College – as well as an alumnus – reeled in an award for the second consecutive year at the star- studded Canadian International Faith & Family Film Festival (CIFF) in Toronto on September 15. His screenplay was selected over eight other nominations in that category.

While he has earned many accolades over the course of his career, the latest CIFF award marks his first for screenwriting. Bessette noted that the award is very significant not only to him but to the Prophets & Kings project.

“When you stop to think they gave this to us at the beginning of the project, I believe the recognition illustrates this powerful story’s incredible potential,” said Bessette. “I think this is just the start of a massive wave that continues to build.”

CIFF festival directors Jason Barbeck and Rafael Kalamat applauded Bessette’s talent and achievement.

“A scholar, a gentleman and a fantastic writer. Christopher Bessette and Lana King will make a huge splash in the film market when this project surfaces,” said Barbeck. “I am so excited to see this true to life historical story take shape.”

“It goes without saying that Christopher Bessette is one of the finest biblical screenplay writers of our time,” said Kalamat. “Prophets & Kings will be known as a classic masterpiece both in faith and secular media.”

Prophets & Kings will be known as a classic masterpiece both in faith and secular media.

Prophets & Kings is based on the story of King Ahab, Queen Jezebel, the prophet Elijah and historical characters found in the biblical text of Kings I and II. Its setting: 877 BC, where kingdoms rise and fall by epic battles with horses, chariots, swordsmen and archers. Corrupt leaders rule the divided nation of Samaria having forgotten their roots and the path that led them out of slavery to the promised land.

While he began penning the series last year, the inspiration behind it was more than 40 years in the making for Bessette, who has been reading a portion of the bible every day since he was 11 years old. He began writing the script, motivated to share the story in a way that it has never been told. Knowing that it could not fit into a two-hour movie time slot, Bessette wrote it as a dramatic television series with 30 one-hour episodes and plans are currently underway to shoot the series overseas.

“I knew it had to be seen as one long story,” he said. “That’s how the digital age of streaming and binge watching television shows has come of age, and made this story right for me.”

After submitting scripts for the first two episodes to CIFF, it was announced as a nominee for Best Screenplay in August. Bessette and King also took part in a movie industry panel at the film festival along with Sam Sorbo (Let There Be Light, Miracle In East Texas), Paul Lalonde (Cloud Ten Creative Services), and other special guests. International star Graham Greene (Dances with Wolves) was recognized with a Lifetime Achievement award at the event.

It was a welcome return to CIFF for Bessette, who won Best Director at CIFF last year for his 2012 movie Trade of Innocents, which raises awareness about human trafficking, while cast member Mira Sorvino won Best Lead Actress for her starring role in the film

Since Bessette graduated from Niagara College in 1984, the long-time Thorold resident has built a career as a multiple- award-winning filmmaker, motion picture writer/director/producer. His international career in the television and film industry has led him across Canada, the U.S. and Europe, as well as to Central America, Russia and Southeast Asia. In addition to Trade of Innocents (2012), Bessette directed The Enemy God (2008), which spans 50 years of an Amazonian tribe. He wrote, directed and produced the documentary Niagara: Thunder of the Waters (2016). His novel, The Mythamohre, was published in 2013.

After submitting scripts for the first two episodes to CIFF, it was announced as a nominee for Best Screenplay in August. Bessette and King also took part in a movie industry panel at the film festival along with Sam Sorbo (Let There Be Light, Miracle In East Texas), Paul Lalonde (Cloud Ten Creative Services), and other special guests. International star Graham Greene (Dances with Wolves) was recognized with a Lifetime Achievement award at the event.

It was a welcome return to CIFF for Bessette, who won Best Director at CIFF last year for his 2012 movie Trade of Innocents, which raises awareness about human trafficking, while cast member Mira Sorvino won Best Lead Actress for her starring role in the film.

Since Bessette graduated from Niagara College in 1984, the long-time Thorold resident has built a career as a multiple- award-winning filmmaker, motion picture writer/director/producer. His international career in the television and film industry has led him across Canada, the U.S. and Europe, as well as to Central America, Russia and Southeast Asia. In addition to Trade of Innocents (2012), Bessette directed The Enemy God (2008), which spans 50 years of an Amazonian tribe. He wrote, directed and produced the documentary Niagara: Thunder of the Waters (2016). His novel, The Mythamohre, was published in 2013.

Bessette has won three Best Director awards and 10 Best Picture Awards. His work has been viewed on screens around the world. In 2012, he was nominated by Niagara College for a Premier’s Award in Creative Arts and Design.

Since 2013, he been passing on his valuable skills and experience to the next generation of film and television industry professionals at Niagara College as a part-time faculty member. He currently teaches Directing for the Screen and Dramatic Scriptwriting.

For more info about Bessette, visit christopherbessette.com.

This year marked the third annual CIFF which drew a record number of over 570 attendees, and concluded with an award ceremony to announce winners from 178 submissions, 50 official selections, 30 screenings and 14 categories. For information visit www.cifflix.com.

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Julie Greco
Communications Specialist
Office: 905 641-2252 ext. 7368
Cell: 905 328-2532
jgreco@niagaracollege.ca
Michael Wales
Manager, Communications                                                                                                                                          
Office: 905 735-2211 ext. 7773
Cell: 905 328-4101
mwales@niagaracollege.ca

Christopher Bessette

Christopher M. Bessette is  a multi-award-winning writer, director, producer. He is an author, educator, public speaker and a member of the Director’s Guild of America and the Writer’s Guild of America.Twice honored with a nomination by Niagara College Canada for the prestigious Premier’s Award for outstanding achievements in Creative Arts & Design, Bessette has garnered many accolades at film festivals worldwide, including ten Best Picture, three Best Director, and a Best Screenplay award.

Married to his college sweetheart, he is a proud father of three and grandfather of two. He makes his home in Southern Ontario, Canada living on an acreage deeded to his family by the Crown of England over 200 years ago.

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