Park City Film examines prejudices in the 1960s with ‘Green Book’
8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 8, and Saturday, Feb. 9; 6 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 10 Park City Library’s Jim Santy Auditorium, 1255 Park Ave. $8 for general admission; $7 for students and senior citizens parkcityfilm.org
Although Sundance and Slamdance have wrapped their festivals in Park City for the year, film lovers still can catch screenings of acclaimed movies with Park City Film.
The nonprofit will start up its weekend screenings with Peter Farrelly’s 2019 Golden Globe-winning biopic, “Green Book,” which will screen from Friday to Sunday at the Park City Library’s Jim Santy Auditorium.
The film is about Tony Lip, a working-class Italian-American bouncer, played by Viggo Mortensen, and Dr. Don Shirley, an African-American classical pianist portrayed by Mahershala Ali.
The movie gets its title from a travel guide known as “The Green Book,” which was first published by New York City mailman Victor Hugo Green in 1936, and was revised through 1966.
The book listed places that were safe for black people to visit while visiting the American South.
“It included restaurants, hotels to gas stations,” said Katharine Wang, Park City Film executive director. “It’s horrifying to think it was so bad at the time that there were certain parts of the country where it wasn’t safe for a non-white person.”
In the film, Shirley realizes his travels are still dangerous with the guide, so he hires Lip, a white bouncer from the Bronx.
“Tony is this stereotypical tough guy that drives Don around and a protects him,” Wang said.
Lip is a man of his time and not aware of race relations, according to Wang.
“The film is about them developing a mutual respect and understanding of each other,” she said. “Tony got to experience what it was like to be black in America in the 1960s, which also opened his eyes to his own prejudices. He also realized how harmful these prejudices were.”
Wang had her eye on screening “Green Book” since its release last November.
“We talked with our booker, and said if we could get this film, we would like to show it when (Park City Film) started up after Sundance,” she said. “We really wanted to bring in a film that people want to see, certainly, something that is considered one of the best pictures of the year fit that bill nicely.”
“Green Book” has been nominated for five Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Original Screenplay and Best Film Editing.
It has already won Golden Globes for Best Picture, Best Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor.“When we get to award season, and there is a game to be played,” she said. “We look at the whole scoop of our season and try to program the highest quality of films and the best films we can get throughout the year.”
Since Park City Film is a small arthouse theatre organization, the staff and programmers have to guess which of these films will be nominated for awards and book them before the nominations come out.
“We do this because we get blocked out from booking these films if we can’t get them in advance,” she said. “Since Sundance was so late this year, we really only had a couple of weeks to show the films that we think will win Best Picture, and ‘Green Book’ is one of them.”
Wang looks forward to hearing the discourse around the film after local audiences have a chance to see it.
“It surely brings to light a dark time in our country’s history,” she said. “Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali are such great actors, and the interplay between them brings the film to life, and makes the story believable.”
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