Park City Film series will celebrate Utah filmmaking
Ryan Summerlin January 25, 2013
Next weekend, when the Sundance and Slamdance crowds have gone, there will still be a great opportunity to see films, when the Park City Film Series resumes.
Adding some special flavor to the series will be the second annual Made in Utah Film Weekend, which will feature films that have been made by Utahns or filmed in Utah that will run Friday, Feb. 1, through Sunday, Feb. 3, in the Jim Santy Auditorium, said Katharine Wang, executive director of the Park City Film Series.
"While it’s great having Sundance where films from all over the world are brought to Park City, there are also some great films that have been shot in Utah that we would like to show," Wang said during an interview. "Utah has a long and storied history with film, and it’s not all red rocks, the Mormon Church and westerns."
The three films that will be screened this year are Gregg Godfrey’s 2012 documentary "Nitro Circus" on Feb. 1, Ryan Little’s 2012 feature "Saints & Soldiers: Airborne Creed" on Feb. 2, and Ronald Donaldson’s "The World’s Fastest Indian," a 2005 biopic about New Zealander Burt Munro, who set the land-speed record on the Bonneville Salt Flats on a 1920 Indian motorcycle in 1967.
"We wanted to show some contemporary films," Wang explained. "As I said, Utah has a long history with film, but because it’s more difficult to get people to come to see older films, we wanted to show some recent ones."
"Nitro Circus" was an obvious choice, because not only was it released in 2012, but also it was an adrenaline-sport movie that would appeal to younger audiences, she said.
"Saints and Solders: Airborne Creed," which is the second film of the "Saints and Soldiers" franchise, was also released in 2012, and did quite well at the box office, but it also has that connection with local filmmakers," Wang said. "While it wasn’t entirely shot in Utah, the film’s producer Adam Abel and director Ryan Little attended the Brigham Young University film school."
In addition, KPCW’s general manager Larry Warren worked with Little on the first "Saints and Soldiers" film in 2003, when he was working at KUTV, Ch. 2, Wang said.
"As for ‘The World’s Fastest Indian,’ we wanted to show an older film," she explained. "As we looked through the list, this film popped up, and I had seen it and loved it."
Wang and the Park City Film Series board tossed the idea of screening it and felt it was a great story.
"It was also released in 2005, which seems like ancient history, now," Wang said with a laugh. "So, we decided it was the one to show."
The film series will present a question-and-answer session after each screening.
"After ‘Nitro Circus," Gregg Godfrey will be here and he will be joined by one of the actors in the film, and the post-screening session for ‘Saints and Soldiers: Airborne Creed’ will feature Little and Abel and be moderated by Larry."
Wang decided to have a moderator to help with the pacing.
"It’s always awful when you have great talent on the panel, but the questions don’t flow because sometimes people are either shy, or don’t know how to articulate them," she said. "So, to have someone up there to get the conversation going is important."
Unfortunately, Sir Anthony Hopkins, who plays Munro in "The World’s Fastest Indian," wasn’t available for the Q & A. So, Sue Kapis, director of operations at Park City Chamber/Bureau and the film commissioner with the Park City Film Commission, will talk about the different location shots in the film, beyond the Salt Flats, and provide some context, Wang said.
"Sue’s job with the film commission is to scout out locations that the filmmakers are looking for and pull together a package to draw them into the state," she said. "They are also on site when the filming starts to help the filmmakers. So, I’m sure she has some interesting stories."
The Made in Utah Film Weekend is not a film festival, per se, but more of an event with a curated collection of films.
"It’s different for us to screen a different film each night, but since the purpose was to showcase the Utah in different ways, it made sense to do it through multiple films," Wang said. "Also, we just didn’t want to focus on the art of film, although that’s a definite aspect of showing films with the Park City Film Series. We wanted the films to be entertaining."
The whole idea for the weekend stems from one of the film series’ executive board members, Matias Alvarez, a filmmaker and producer at Salty Pictures, Inc.
He is also involved with the Utah Film Commission (UFC), the underwriter of the weekend screenings, Wang said.
"The mandate for the UFC is to bring companies to Utah to do location filming with added tax incentives," she said. "Not only to they direct filmmakers to Monument Valley, Park City and other locations, they also promote the talent we have in Utah, including filmmakers, studios and actors.
"So, when filmmakers come to shoot in Utah, they don’t need to go to Los Angeles or New York to recruit talent, because we have the whole complement and resources here," Wang said. "We also want to inspire new filmmakers from our younger audiences and let them know there are resources available here to be successful in the film industry."
The Park City Film Series will present the "Made in Utah Film Weekend," which will run Friday, Feb. 1, through Sunday, Feb. 3, at the Jim Santy Auditorium at the Park City Library and Education Center, 1255 Park Ave. Friday’s screenings will begin at 8 p.m. and Sunday’s film will start at 6 p.m. Tickets are $7 for adults, $6 for students and senior citizens. For more information, visit www.parkcityfilmseries.com.