Film Series will continue where the festivals end |

Film Series will continue where the festivals end

Gary Oldman, left, plays Winston Churchill, and Lily James stars as Elizabeth Layton in director Joe Wright's "Darkest Hour," that will kick off the February screenings of the Park City Film Series.
Photo by Jack English/Focus Features |

Right on the heels of the Sundance and Slamdance film festivals and just a few weeks before the 90th Academy Awards, the Park City Film Series returns to the Park City Library’s Jim Santy Auditorium starting Friday, Feb. 2.

Film Series Executive Director Katharine Wang said the nonprofit got lucky this year because all of the weekend screenings are films nominated for Academy Awards and Golden Globes.

“Since we scheduled the February screenings some months prior, it’s nice to see how we fare, and we’re pretty excited about that,” Wang said.

Kicking off the month this weekend is Joe Wright’s “Darkest Hour,” rated PG-13, that will run from Feb. 2-4.

The film is up for multiple Oscars including Best Picture and Best Actor for Gary Oldman’s portrayal of British wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill, Wang said.

“This is really a story that certainly most Americans did not really know,” she said. “There was a strong conversation of people in the British government who wanted to surrender to Hitler during World War II. So when Neville Chamberlain stepped down as England’s (Great Britain’s) Prime Minster, Churchill had to fight against this tide of opinion to surrender and give in.”

Wang first saw the film at the Telluride Film Festival last year.

“It’s an incredible testament to Churchill that he didn’t step down considering the opposition he felt from his own government,” she said. “It also shows that there are hard choices to be made and sometimes the right choice isn’t the obvious one.”

The next weekend screening through Feb. 9-11 will be Guillermo del Toro’s “The Shape of Water,” rated R.

The film has been nominated for a slew of Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actress for Sally Hawkins, Wang said.

“Guillermo del Toro makes what he calls monster movies, and he is one of my favorite filmmakers,” she said. “The interesting thing is ‘The Shape of Water’ is a love story with a monster in it.”

Hawkins plays the lead character,a deaf custodian at a Cold-War-era lab, and befriends a humanoid fish-like creature that has been taken from the Amazon.

“Scientists are doing experiments on him, and Sally’s character finds a connection with this creature and a love story unfolds,” Wang said. “There is that mysticism and fantasy that [del Toro] always puts in his films. But the way he uses them in this film is hopeful.”

Craig Gillespie’s “I, Tonya,” rated R, will screen Feb. 16-18.

“‘I, Tonya’ is our little nod to the Olympics this year,” Wang said. “It’s about the talented figure skater Tonya Harding and her rivalry with fellow skater Nancy Kerrigan.”

The film features Margot Robbie as Harding, Caitlyn Carver as her rival Nancy Kerrigan and Allison Janney as Harding’s chain-smoking mother. Robbie and Janney have been nominated for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress, respectively.

Harding gained infamy in 1994 after her alleged involvement in her ex-husband Jeff Gillooly’s apparent plan to attack Kerrigan.

“We all know about the baton to Nancy’s kneecap, but ‘I, Tonya,’ which is an irreverent and dark comedy, tells the story from Tonya’s perspective,” Wang said. “Tonya was a very talented figure skater who didn’t fit the mold. She was from a poor, working-class family and her costumes were homemade, while Nancy, on the other hand, had the beautiful costumes and looked the part.”

Luca Guadagnino’s “Call Me By Your Name,” rated R, will put the final touch on the month’s weekend screenings from Feb. 23-25.

The film, which is based on a novel by Andre Aciman, is a coming-of-age story that hits the audience on many different levels, Wang said.

“This was a film that premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, and it’s fun to bring a Sundance film back to town,” Wang said.

“Call Me By Your Name” has been nominated for Best Picture and Best Actor for Timothée Chalamet’s portrayal of Elio, who falls in love with the older Oliver, played by Armie Hammer.

“It’s a sensual and transcendent story about first love,” Wang said. “It’s about the excitement, but the danger, because it’s about two people who are different ages, and the same gender.”

In between the weekend screenings, the Park City Film Series will present a couple of free special screenings.

The first is Douglas McGrath’s “Emma,” rated PG, at 4 p.m. on Feb. 3.

This film is based on the Jane Austen novel of the same name and stars Gwyneth Paltrow and Ewan McGregor. It’s part of the Park City Film Series’ Books 2 Movies series, Wang said.

The next free screening will be Nicolas Vanier’s “Belle and Sebastian,” not rated, at 4 p.m. on Feb. 10.

“‘Belle and Sebastian’ is one of our Foreign Films for Kids screenings,” Wang said. “It will be screened in French with English subtitles.”

It’s a French film based on a novel by Cécile Aubry about a boy and his sheepdog who live on the border of Switzerland and Nazi-occupied France during World War II.

“The boy’s family is trying to protect Jewish refugees from the Nazis,” Wang said. “It’s a little intense, so we recommend the film for ages 9 and older.”

The February screenings will close with a showing of Edward Albee’s “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf,” presented by National Theatre Live and directed by James MacDonald at 3 p.m. on Feb. 24.

“This play is exquisitely done, and we selected this and ‘Emma’ to honor Women’s History Month, which is February,” Wang said. “We felt it was important to pay tribute to strong women.”

Wang said February screenings are fun to program because of the award nominations, and the types of films they can schedule.

“We always hope we pick and show films that are somewhat off the beaten track,” she said. “These are clearly not your action figure, high adventure films. So we can show a different lens on the world.”

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