Special to the Reporter

In April of 2005, Benjamin Wilbanks set out for Iraq with nine days notice to chronicle the progress of Christians since the capture of Saddam Hussein. The resulting documentary has been a critical success for Wilbanks who self distributes the film through his company, Malchus Media.

A Journey to Iraq follows American missionary, Tim Comer, as he makes a difficult journey through Jordan to Northern Iraq to help establish the first exclusive Christian printing press in the country. The freedom to establish this press, and for Muslims to convert to Christianity, was only recently possible with the removal of Saddam Hussein.

Iraqi Christians tell their story of being hunted, persecuted, and even shot at just for their faith in this 42-minute documentary. Halfway through the film is a harrowing corkscrew landing at Baghdad International Airport. The film ends with a group of excited, energetic Kurdish Iraqis working eagerly to get the printing press up and running - something until recently was unimaginable.

A Journey to Iraq has played at the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival, the Hollywood Liberty Film Festival and at various churches and organizations around the country. The documentary is available locally at Mill Street Coffee, and online at Amazon.com and through the film’s official Web site www.journeytoiraq.com.

Wilbanks shares this Telly Award with his co-producer, Ron Gonzalez, of Burleson, who oversaw much of the post-production of the documentary.

Founded in 1979, the Telly Awards is the premier award honoring outstanding local, regional, and cable TV commercials and programs, the finest film and video productions, and groundbreaking web commercials, videos and films. Winners represent the best work of the most respected advertising agencies, production companies, television stations, cable operators, and corporate video departments in the world. With 13,500 entries from all 50 states and around the world, this year’s competition has been one of the most competitive and successful in the long history of the Telly Awards.

Chairman of the judging panel, Richard Friley, the Emmy and Telly Award winning President of Friley Productions noted, “As judging chairman, our judges are honored to have evaluated such an incredible body of work. The diverse pool of entries represents the best of traditional and online video and was an inspiration to us all. The quality of work exceeded our expectations, even in this challenging overall market and it is a true accomplishment for our winners”