Imagination Is Sparked By Photo Inspired Film Festival Contest From Ron Howard and Canon

In August, esteemed film director Ron Howard (Who previously directed Tom in ‘Far and Away’), and Canon U.S.A. launched an exciting new photo influenced film festival contest, Long Live Imagination.  This month, the winner’s were announced.  We have nothing to do with this contest, but it sparked our imagination about the extraordinary creativity in film over the decades.

The contest asked for anyone to send in their own photos that in some way depict the 10 themes listed below.  Then TEN photos from hundreds were selected as winners of nine of the ten categories.  The tenth category, DISCOVERY, amazingly only selected ONE photo as the winner.  We’ve included below our favorite photo from each of the categories, including the single photo that won the final category.  The contest provided a definition for the theme (and we added a more formal definition in parenthesis from The Free Dictionary):

Baptismal by Ryan W.1. Setting (the surroundings in which something is set) any location or environment.


Time To Go Our Separate Ways by Daniel B.

2. Time (a non-spatial continuum in which events occur in apparently irreversible succession from the past through the present to the future) represents time of day or within history.

Tyrant by Brad W.3. Character (the combination of qualities or features that distinguishes one person, group, or thing from another) can be anyone or anything.


Come What May by Tanya M.4. Mood (a state of mind or emotion) conveys atmosphere, tone or emotion.


Memories by J.W.H.

5. Backstory (the experiences of a character or the circumstances of an event that occur before the action or narrative of a literary, cinematic, or dramatic work) a history that promotes fuller understanding of the narrative.

My Mom by Patricia W.

6. Relationship (the condition or fact of being related; connection or association) a relationship between anyone or anything.

Alli's Dreams by Debra V.

7. Goal (the purpose toward which an endeavor is directed; an objective) whatever the character is pursuing.


The Giant Chandelier by Cahill T.8. Obstacle (one that opposes, stands in the way of, or holds up progress) anyone or anything in the character’s way.


Stairwell Entity by Tom S.

9. The Unknown (not known; unfamiliar) can be anything unexpected, a twist.



Unparalleled by Jennifer H10. Discovery (the act or an instance of noticing or learning, especially by making an effort) a key and potentially pivotal item, place or truth is that uncovered.


Film buffs know these 10 items are the key ingredients to a great movie (it takes a lot more than these, but they prove the foundation of the classics). Read Syd Field or Robert McKee for more details on these ideas.  The one item that really caught our attention was the last one: DISCOVERY. Can you think of a movie that isn’t filled with one discovery after another?!

"You can't handle the truth!"

Click on the photo to watch the thrilling court room moment of DISCOVERY.

“You can’t handle the truth!”

You remember this classic Hollywood line from Aaron Sorkin’s 1992 hit military court room drama, ‘A Few Good Men.’  It’s roared in court by Col. Nathan R. Jessup (Jack Nicholson) when Lt. Daniel Kaffee (Tom Cruise) catches Jessup in a lie.  In an instant Tom’s character, a fairly inexperienced defense attorney, suddenly DISCOVERS a weakness in his witness.  We won’t spoil the twist for the fans who might not have seen this great movie yet.  But we will say, the screen shot above of that dramatic moment clearly illustrates the look of a guilty monster.  It is indeed an iconic image of complete discovery.

Once we saw all the winning imaginative photos in the Long Live Imagination contest, we here at started to think about our favorite moments of DISCOVERY in Hollywood film history (aside from the example above from ‘A Few Good Men’).  We picked five to explore and you can share in the fun below.

Warning: spoilers follow, so read at your own risk!  If you click on a movie poster below, you will see the shocking moment of discovery from each film.

For the sake of this blog post, DISCOVERY will mean a key and pivotal plot point or character revelation that is uncovered that proves to be an act or an instance of noticing or learning that uniquely defines a movie.

The Sixth Sense

The Sixth Sense (1999)- film lovers who know the ending to M. Night Shyamalan‘s modern day ghost story have played back the movie over and over again to find any continuity flaws.  Some have argued the mother should have booked another doctors appointment.  Regardless, do you recall where you were the moment Bruce Willis‘ character discovered he was dead?  Film, with it’s aesthetic of light and sound, has the ability to create a reality so like our own that we inevitably believe that ghosts are real.


Chinatown (1974)- aside from director Roman Polanski’s crime mystery being a great history lesson on how Los Angeles (and what is called ‘The Valley” in particular) developed its sustainable water source, Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway ignite the screen with a sexual tension rarely seen on film.  But when we and Jack’s character, the seen-it-all detective J.J. Gittes discover her incestuous family secret (“She’s my sister! She’s my daughter!”), the possibilities of what salacious character secrets Hollywood films could depict have never been the same.

The Usual SuspectsThe Usual Subjects (1995)- there isn’t a coffee cup whose bottom we don’t check before drinking.  Writer Christopher McQuarrie (writer/director of Tom Cruise’s upcoming action film ‘Jack Reacher‘) and high school buddy, director Bryan Singer, brought us this astonishing crime mystery that thrives on the concept of ‘discovery.’  Academy Award winning best supporting actor Kevin Spacey gives a career defining performance as the seemingly hapless ‘Verbal,’ using a torrent of words to manipulate Chazz Palminteri‘s unrelenting questioning.  But what we see and what we hear are discovered to be more intimately connected than we could have ever imagined.  Who manufactured your coffee cup?

The original 1960 'Psycho.'Psycho (1960)- no list on great filmmaking is complete without a nod to Alfred Hitchcock.  ’Psycho’ is arguably one of his best.  This movie provided two extraordinary moments of discovery.  The first was a groundbreaking movie marketing ploy (later borrowed by David Fincher for his  great thriller, ‘Se7en.’)  In casting beloved movie star Janet Leigh and giving her prominent billing on movie posters no one expected her bloody shower demise in the first 20 minutes of the film (Fincher did the opposite, by not giving any credit to his movie star serial killer).  With the audience overwhelmed by the opening shocker, they were well-prepared for the climatic moment of discovery.  Thanks to Hitchcock’s mastery of light and editing, no one knew that mother wasn’t really…well…herself!

The Godfather.The Godfather (1972)- western storytelling is built on the paradigm of good triumphing over evil.  It’s a sign of Francis Ford Coppola‘s fearless directing, combined with the Academy Award nominated performance by Al Pacino as Michael Corleone that left moviegoers breathless with an inevitable moment of discovery that arguably no film has duplicated since.  It’s a rare feat when you root for your hero to turn bad.  That’s just what this Academy Award winning best picture achieved.

Those our our top five moments of discovery (with three useful online resources below).  What are yours?  In the comments section below, post your favorite film moment.


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