‘A Midnight Clear’ honors Veterans Day and Park City | ParkRecord.com

‘A Midnight Clear’ honors Veterans Day and Park City

The cast and crew of Keith Gordon’s “A Midnight Clear” gather on the soundstage, which is now the Park City Library’s Jim Santy Auditorium stage, during a break in 1992. The front row features includes actors Frank Whalley, Kevin Dillon, Arye Gross, Ethan Hawke and Peter Berg.
Courtesy of the Park City Historical Society

What: Park City Film Made In Utah: “A Midnight Clear,” rated R

When: 7 p.m., Monday, Nov. 12

Where: Park City Library’s Jim Santy Auditorium, 1255 Park Ave.

Cost: Free

Web: parkcityfilm.org

Keith Gordon’s 1992 war drama “A Midnight Clear” is a bridge that connects Park City Film and the Park City Historical Society.

The film, which is scheduled to screen at 7 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 12, at the Park City Library’s Jim Santy Auditorium, fits with the Park City Film’s new Made In Utah program because it was one of the first films shot entirely in Park City, said Katharine Wang, Park City Film executive director.

“Over the years, we get requests from Utah-based filmmakers to show feature-length films over the course of the year,” she said. “So this year we decided to create a program where we can have a place to show independent films that were either made by Utah filmmakers, or shot here or both.”

“A Midnight Clear” also fits in with the historical society, the organization that oversees the Park City Museum, because it used historical buildings — namely the Park City Library — as sets.

“The library’s building wasn’t being used at that time,” said Sandra Morrison, Park City Museum executive director. “It was pretty much abandoned at the time.”

The building’s interior was transformed into that of a chateau in the Ardennes forest, the plot’s primary setting, according to Morrison.

“The auditorium itself became the attic,” she said.

Morrison first heard about the film a few years ago from her friend, Rick Brough, a reporter for KPCW.

“He talked about how they shot some of the scenes inside the (current) library and thought it would be fun to actually watch it in the auditorium,” Morrison said. “And Rick’s dream will happen on Monday.”

“A Midnight Clear” takes place in 1944, after a group of American soldiers led by Sgt. Will Knott, portrayed by Ethan Hawke, encounter small squad of battle-hardened Germans and strike a deal to take them prisoner and end their fighting.

The American troop, tired of war, discover that its German counterpart is are also weary of fighting. So both sides agree on an impromptu truce, which goes awry when one of the soldiers isn’t cued in on the plan.

The film also stars Peter Berg, future director of blockbusters like “Friday Night Lights” and “Lone Survivor,” Gary Sinise in his feature film debut and Kevin Dillon, who would go on to portray Johnny “Drama” in the HBO series “Entourage.”

“One of the film’s crew, Margaret Hillyard, who was the production manager, said the cast actually went to boot camp to learn how to be soldiers,” Morrison said.

Hillyard, who lived in New York at the time, fell in love with Park City and moved here after the filming, according to Morrison.

“She is one of the Park City Museum’s members now,” Morrison said. “She always tells me how cold she was when they were filming, and that makes sense because 1992 was one of the coldest winters in Park City on record.”

The idea to screen “A Midnight Clear” on the Monday observation of Veterans Day came from Randy Scott, vice chair of the Park City Historical Society board.

“He thought it made sense because it took place during World War II,” Morrison said. Veterans Day, a commemoration of all American veterans, grew out of worldwide celebrations of the Nov. 11, 1918 end of World War I.

A post-screening panel discussion, moderated by Larry Warren, former general manager of KPCW, will include the film’s producer Bill Borden and former Utah Film Commissioner Leigh von der Esch, Morrison said.

“Bill told me that out of all the films he has produced, ‘A Midnight Clear’ is his favorite,” she said.

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