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Festival begins and ends with independent spirits

If there’s a theme for this year’s Sundance Institute Outdoor Film Festival picks, it’s that these are the kind of films independent moviemakers hold dear: the ones that comb sophisticated topics with a keen eye and an unlikely sense of humor.

"Over the past nine years, we have programmed films from the Sundance Film Festival, classic westerns and musicals, as well as a series of films focused on artists and their creative environments," said Sundance Institute Managing Director Jill Miller. "The lineup of films in this year’s outdoor film festival includes work that has influenced filmmakers."

Park City’s Friday night screenings will begin July 6, with "Breaking Away," chosen by Sundance Institute Programmer Don Nein, who calls the film a "treasure of the 70s."

Set in the university town of Bloomington, Indiana, a pack of working class locals struggle with their identities, especially in light of one of their clan’s intense and unusual passion for Italian culture and cycling.

"Breaking Away" was created at a time in Hollywood when independent studios hadn’t emerged, notes Nein, when "an endearing and energetic coming-of-age story" by a big studio could garner six nominations at the Oscars. Starring a young Dennis Quaid, the film ultimately went home with an Academy Award for "Best Screenplay" in 1979.

Sundance Institute Associate Director Of Artist Relations Virginia Pearce recalls nods around the table at Nein’s suggestion of "Breaking Away."

"The reaction from all of us at Sundance who are just a whole group of film geeks was ‘I love that movie," Pearce recalls. "It had a lot of validity then and I think it still hold up as a classic."

Also in the Outdoor Film Festival mix this year is 1998’s "The Truman Show," which deals with the unreality of reality shows from the point of view of a man (played by Jim Carrey) who only realizes his "real" world is a Hollywood set when he becomes a young man and the 1964 Stanley Kubrick political satire "Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb" which manages to make the Cold War funny.

"Dr. Strangelove," was the pick of the Institute’s Director’s Lab advisor, Michael Lehmann, who most recently directed the romantic comedy "Because I Said So," featuring Diane Keaton and Mandy Moore, but whose earlier work reveals a blacker kind of comedy. In 1989, he won the Sundance Film Festival’s Grand Jury Prize for "Heathers," the morbidly funny high school saga driven by a heartthrob-jock-killer-hero Christian Slater.

The series’ topics will vary week to week, with films launched at the Sundance Film Festival and others, like " Dr. Strangelove," that pre-dated the festival or premiered nationwide at box offices.

Week three’s "Going Global" will showcase 2005 Sundance Film Festival film "Kinky Boots," about a man who aspires to rock the fashion world with a racy line of men’s footwear. Week six’s "Original Recipe" theme will showcase the blueprint for this summer’s release, "Ocean’s Thirteen:" The original Rat Pack film, "Ocean’s Eleven," made in 1960.

"Stop Making Sense," a 1984 musical documentary of a Talking Heads concert, has the distinction of being one of the earlier films by Jonathan Demme, who later joined a Sundance Film Festival as a director for the Neil Young film "Heart of Gold," in 2006.

Choosing outdoor films is a delicate balance, said Pearce.

She notes that what audiences are seeking the "innocence" of the outdoor film experience of the 1950s-style drive-in atmosphere, but a film that will please everyone and not just the family.

No film in this year’s lineup surpasses the rating of "PG-13" and most are rated "PG," and yet, they all have that Sundance stamp of wily behavior, that the cool (and, perhaps a little nerdy) independent spirits identify with.

All Sundance Institute Outdoor Film Festival screenings will take place in Park City at City Park, beginning at 9 p.m. Admission to all screenings is free. In case of rain, screenings will be held in the Park City Library at 1255 Park Avenue. Additional screenings of the festival will be held weekly at Salt Lake City’s Gallivan Center on Mondays and at Sundance Resort on Wednesdays. For details on other location’s screenings, visit www2.sundance.org .

Friday night’s Sundance Institute Outdoor Film Festival Screenings at City Park

July 6, 9 p.m.

Theme: "The Roots of Independence"

Film: "Breaking Away" (1979)(Rated: PG)

July 13, 9 p.m.

Theme: "Sign of the Times"

Film: "The Truman Show" (1998)(Rated: PG)

July 20, 9 p.m.

Theme: "Going Global"

Film: "Kinky Boots"(2005)(Rated:PG-13)

July 27, 9 p.m.

Theme: "Life on Our Planet"

Film: "Never Cry Wolf"(1983)(Rated: PG)

August 3, 9 p.m.

Theme: "Docs That Rock"

Film" "Stop Making Sense" (1984) (Rated: Not Rated)

August 10, 9 p.m.

Theme: "Original Recipe"

Film: "Ocean’s Eleven" (1960)(Rated: PG)

August 17.

Theme: "Roots of Independence"

Film: "Dr. Strangelove: Or How I learned to stop worrying and Love the Bomb"

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