And action! Park City Film Series starts its 17th season
The Park City Film Series celebrates 17 years as an official nonprofit this season and Executive Director Katharine Wang is ready to start the screenings.
“You see the leaves changing and you know it’s time for the Film Series,” Wang told The Park Record. “It’s also the second full season that we’ll be back in the renovated Jim Santy Auditorium, and this is all exciting for us.”
The September lineup will feature films and documentaries that were hits at the 2015 and 2016 Sundance Film Festivals, Wang said.
“People loved them and we had a lot of requests for us to put them in the Film Series,” she said. “As you know, we are subject to the times when films are ready for distribution and available to the public, but it so happened that these films lined up and were available to us during this window.”
First out of the gates this weekend will be Whit Stillman’s “Love & Friendship.”
The film is based on the unfinished novel by Jane Austen and was a critical hit at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.
It’s an intelligent, engaging and comedic story that takes place among the lush landscape and lifestyle of 18th century England, according to Wang.
“It stars Kate Beckinsale and Chloe Sevigny and is a hilarious Jane Austen comedy that is very much about the wits,” she said. “Kate plays Lady Susan Vernon, a recently widowed woman who has her eye on the prize of trying to find a new husband in the 1800s.”
She is also looking for a husband for her daughter, Frederica, played by Morfydd Clark.
“This is really one of the funnier and more clever Jane Austen films,” Wang said. “It’s about people who are engaged in their own world and how seriously they take it.”
“Love & Friendship,” which will run through Sunday, Sept. 11, will be followed by Taikas Waititi’s “Hunt for the Wilderpeople,” which will be screened from Sept. 16 to Sept. 18.
This is another fantastic film by New Zealand filmmaker Waititi, who did the vampire dark comedy “What We Do in the Shadows” last year, Wang said.
“His films are simply wonderful to watch,” she said. “You see he has such a joy in making the films and getting the best out of the actors.”
In “Hunt for the Wilderpeople,” Waititi gets actors Sam Neill and Julian Dennison to not take themselves too seriously.
“That means there is a levity there when the situation gets too serious to bear,” Wang explained. “And he does that in an incredible way.”
Dennison plays Ricky, the foster son of Neill’s character Hec.
“He is a young and amazing actor who can totally hold his own and his character Ricky has been in foster care all of his life,” Wang said. “His careworker is at her wits’ end and places him in care of a couple who live in rural New Zealand.”
When everything finally clicks in place, the Earth falls out from under Ricky and he ends up on the run with Hec, and the film is about them trying to survive in the bush and dodging a manhunt.
“The way Taikas approaches this film is that there is a seriousness to it, but there is also a charm,” Wang said. “It will have you laugh and cry.”
The first documentary of the season will be Louise Osmond’s “Dark Horse” that will be screened Sept. 23 to Sept. 25.
“It won the 2015 Sundance Film Festival Audience Award and is about a small mining village in Wales where a barmaid and her husband decided to breed and raise a racehorse,” Wang said. “It’s a fantastic story about how they recruit neighbors from a working-men’s club, decide to compete in the ‘sport of kings’ and they exceeded their expectations.”
In the middle of the weekend, on Sept. 24, the Park City Film Series will celebrate Art House Theater Day, where Art House Theatres across the country will celebrate what is best about independent theaters and advocates of the cinema arts.
“In this day and age of technology, everyone seems to be so isolated and increasingly experiencing movies by themselves,” Wang said. “The Art House Theater is where the community can come together and engage in dialog and be entertained and provoked by these stories the filmmakers are bringing to us.
‘“Dark Horse’ is a good fit for this celebration, because it’s all about community and bringing people together in unexpected ways,” she said.
In addition to “Dark Horse,” The Park City Film Series will celebrate Art House Theater Day with a 4 p.m. screening of Stephane Aubier and Vincent Patar’s animated double feature of “Return to School” and “The Christmas Log” from the “A Town Called Panic (Panique Aug Village)” series.
The cost is $5, but there will be free popcorn, Wang said.
“These are two zany and slapstick shorts that are done with stop-motion animation and they have a ‘Mr. Bill’ feel to it, but they aren’t clay,” she said. “They are plastic figurines.”
In ‘The Christmas Log’ two characters burn the Yulelog and have to replace it so Santa Claus will give them presents.
“Return to School” features the same two characters, who this time have an assignment to get to the moon. They find out that the answer is a pig. So they have to figure out how to get into pigs’ minds to figure that out.
“We will show the films in English and then in French, with subtitles, because we wanted to tie the films into our children’s programming — Books 2 Movies and Dual Immersion — to celebrate what we do for our younger patrons,” Wang said. “We will also have some giveaways to celebrate going back to school.”
The two films that will round out the month are a special screening of Vicki Abeles’ “Beyond Measure” and Matt Ross’ “Captain Fantastic.”
“Beyond Measure,” which is the first free REEL Community Screening of the season, will be on Sept. 29, and the Park City Film Series is partnering with Park City Day School, Park City Education Foundation, the Park City School District, Weilenmann School of Discovery and the Picabo Street Academy.
“Beyond Measure” is philosophically a sequel to Greg Whiteley’s “Most Likely to Succeed,” according to Wang.
“However, rather than looking at why kids aren’t succeeding in school, this film looks at what is right about the education system,” she said. “It looks at how different schools across the country implement project-based learning.”
There will be a post-screening discussion.
“The panel will feature an educational expert from outside our community to give us a more global perspective,” Wang said. “We’re in the process of scheduling the discussion.”
“Captain Fantastic,” which was another favorite of this year’s Sundance Film Festival, will run from Sept. 30 to Oct. 2.
Viggo Mortensen portrays a dedicated father of six children who all live in the forest of the Pacific Northwest. They are eventually forced to leave their home and face a world that challenges his ideas of what it means to be a parent as well as brings into question everything he’s taught his children.
“We had a lot of requests to bring this one back,” Wang said. “You can see why because Viggo is such a fantastic actor and the story really gets into that concept of protecting your children and doing what’s best for them, and facing that conflict of engaging the real world and still staying true to yourself.”
These films just scratch the surface of the Park City Film Series’ new season.
“We’re already working on October and November, and we’re excited to come back and deepen the work we do within the community,” Wang said.
The Park City Film Series will kick off its 2016-17 season with Whit Stillman’s “Love & Friendship,” at the Park City Library’s Jim Santy Auditorium, 1255 Park Ave., on Friday, Sept. 9, at 8 p.m. The film, rated PG, will be screened Saturday, Sept. 10, at 8 p.m. and on Sunday, Sept. 11, at 6 p.m. Tickets are $8 for adults and $7 for students and senior citizens. For more information, visit http://www.parkcityfilmseries.com.
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Sundance schedules 11 screenings for its 2019 summer series, and the public can vote on one.