Recent Press and Praise

Jul 5, 2010

SMILE 'TIL IT HURTS to screen on Mackinac Island where Up With People began!

We are pleased to announce a unique opportunity to experience the history of Up With People on Mackinac Island, MI, August 1-2, 2010.

Few people know that Up With People began on Mackinac Island, MI. The Up With People sing-out cast sprang from hootenanny shows conducted by Moral ReArmament (MRA) beginning with a summer youth conference in 1964. The head of MRA at the time was a man named Peter Howard. J. Blanton Belk also helped organize the youth conferences. When Peter Howard died unexpectedly in 1965, Mr. Belk took over as head of MRA in the United States and continued to fashion MRA's Up With People/sing-out program. The Mission Point Resort on Mackinac Island was among the impressive properties formerly owned by Moral ReArmament. There, industrious MRA volunteers built additions to the property that still includes the great hall, a theater and state-of-the-art film studio. Mackinac College was also built on site and was operated for MRA/Up With People youth and others until 1970. Click here for background, photos and exhibits.

In the “Tower” at Mission Point Resort, there is an historical museum in which you can view a photographic history of the key leaders in Moral ReArmament, including those who started, developed and maintained Up With People through the decades. The museum’s timeline ends without a full transition to Up With People, although you can see photos of the youth conference with attendees like President Gerald R. Ford. You’ll even see a young J. Blanton Belk performing in MRA plays. Painted murals include the familiar faces of the singing trio, the Colwell Brothers.

Among other themes, SMILE ‘TIL IT HURTS documents the MRA mission to change hearts and minds, and then the transition of the Up With People program. The film includes historical and current day footage of the island property and the honest personal reflections of John & Patty Sayre. John Sayre, an Olympic gold medalist, along with his rowing partner Rusty Wailes, had prominent roles in inspiring the youth during these summer conferences and beyond. These summer youth conferences on Mackinac Island are among the unique and fascinating history of Up With People, and the Mission Point Resort and the Tower Museum are worthy of a visit. You won’t be disappointed.

To bookend screenings of SMILE ‘TIL IT HURTS at Michael Moore’s film festival in Traverse City (July 27-August 1), the Mission Point Resort is hosting a public screening on Mackinac Island on Sunday, August 1 at 7pm. SMILE ‘TIL IT HURTS will screen at the very theater where MRA and Up With People/sing-out performances were held, and where part of SMILE ‘TIL IT HURTS was filmed. To celebrate this collaborative event, Mission Point Resort is generously offering a “get-away” package that includes:

* Two night stay (double occupancy), taxes (Sunday/Monday nights)

* Luggage transportation fee from the ferry

* Breakfast each morning for two

* Tower Museum admission tickets

* SMILE ‘TIL IT HURTS admission tickets (Q&A with the Director to follow)

* Popcorn and a non-alcoholic drink during the movie

To promote the film, clips of never-before-seen archival footage that may appear in the Director’s cut will be screened at 3pm on August 1. A casual reception with the Director will begin at 5:30pm, just prior to the screening of SMILE ‘TIL IT HURTS at 7pm. The Q&A will follow the show.

The total package cost is $394. For more details or to book, contact Nikki at (248) 291-8871 or

Of course, tickets to see SMILE ‘TIL IT HURTS on August 1 @ 7pm or to the Tower Museum can be purchased separately, and there is no cost to attend the 5:30pm reception prior to the screening.

If you're interested in the Up With People, Moral ReArmament or the history of Mackinac Island in any way, this is the event to attend!!!

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