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Courtesy Variance Films A young football player adjusts his helmet before a game in a scene from Steve James Head Games.

Sports head injuries have been thrust into the national conversation thanks to leagues like the NFL and NHL. Their efforts to better understand concussions have made headlines across the country in recent years.

Locally, the documentary "Crash Reel," highlighting a traumatic head injury suffered by snowboarder Kevin Pearce during a competition in Park City a few years ago, has sparked conversations about how to better protect athletes.

In response to this dialogue, the Park City Film Series will be offering a free screening of "Head Games" at the Jim Santy Auditorium on Thursday, May 9, at 7 p.m.

"This year we chose 'Head Games' in part because concussions are a big deal in our community because we have so many athletes in our town," said Katy Wang, executive director of the Park City Film Series. "It became really clear to us that the health component of the documentary has resonated in our community."

The documentary, directed by Steve James, follows former football player and wrestler Chris Nowinski in his quest to shed more light on concussions and their effects. Nowinski, who wrote the book on which the documentary is based, is featured along with sports icons Bob Costas, Keith Primeau, Cindy Parlow Cone and others.

Wang said James does a good job of making the documentary about more than statistics and medical jargon.

"Steve James is an amazing documentary filmmaker," she said. "He does a fantastic job of getting the personal stories out."

After the movie is over, a Q&A session with Dr. Wain Allen will follow.


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Allen, along with Melinda Roalstad, runs the Think Head First concussion management program.

Allen said he thinks the ability to diagnose concussions had come a long way in the past few years.

"We've improved our diagnosis of concussions and I think we're in the process of treating brain injuries more coherently and consistently," he said.

He added that it's important for young athletes to understand the severity of concussions and to not be afraid to speak up if they suspect they have suffered a head injury.

"We are here to help," he said. "The best way to prevent serious injury is to properly manage the first one. Don't hide things; don't cover it up."

Both the movie and the Q&A session are free to the public.