Park City Film Series continues February screenings
The Sundance and Slamdance film festivals are over, but art house film screenings will continue thanks to the Park City Film Series.
Park City Film Series Executive Director Katharine Wang said the remaining February screenings will not only entertain audiences who venture to see them in the the Jim Santy Auditorium over the next three weekends, but also challenge them.
"They are the types of screenings that we don’t normally do," Wang said during a Park Record interview. "So, we are excited to see how the audience likes them."
The schedule is as follows:
Amy Berg’s documentary, "Janis: Little Girl Blue," zeroes in on the late rock-singer Janis Joplin, who passed away on Oct. 4, 1970, at the age of 27.
"What’s amazing to me is that there has never been a full-length documentary about her until last year," Wang said. "There are many music documentaries, which seems to be the thing to do, but there hasn’t been one about Janis before."
Joplin broke the rules and paved the way for other female singers to become singularly strong voices in rock music, according to Wang.
"She grew up in a small conservative town in Texas and didn’t really fit in, but found herself and literally found her voice with [Big Brother and the Holding Company] in San Francisco, before exploding at the Monterey Pop Festival," Wang said. "Amy Berg does a great job of presenting the story of Janis’ life, without overemphasizing any one part."
The film uses Joplin’s own words, historical footage and interviews with former lovers, bandmates and her brother and sister.
"Cat Power, who is from Georgia, reads some of Janis’ personal letters, and just hearing that southern accent, puts things in perspective," Wang said. "It’s almost as if we are hearing Janis’ voice from the grave."
The screening is underwritten by Riffs Acoustic Music.
"It’s our local music shop, of course," Wang said. "We’re thankful to Larry Hart and his team over there to make this possible."
The following weekend, Feb. 19-21, will feature Jafar Panahi’s "Taxi."
"Jafar Panahi is one of the most notable Iranian filmmakers of our time," Wang said. "He has actually been banned in 2010 by the Iranian government from making films, because he was examining the social injustices and political situations in that country."
But that hasn’t stopped him, and "Taxi" is Panahi’s third film since the ban was announced, according to Wang.
"The premise is he is a taxi driver and has mounted a camera on his dashboard," she said. "The story is told through a series of people he picks up."
Wang said the film is staged, but at times it’s hard to tell.
"You don’t know if he has made any prearrangements to pick up these people that are in the film," she said. "Because each of the characters come in and give little vignettes of what modern-day life is about."
At one point, Panahi picks up his niece, who is also a filmmaker.
"She is making a film for school and they talk about the restrictions that she has to follow, which, of course, ties into the restrictions that he has had to follow, albeit not very closely," Wang said. "This is a really interesting social commentary, but also is about what it takes to make a film. Do you have to have a lot of equipment, and even a script to make something that’s compelling? Or can you just be curious and be open to the dialogues that may [take place]."
"Taxi" premiered at the Telluride Film Festival and won the Golden Bear Award at the Berlin Film Festival.
The Park City Film Series has a special program planned for the final weekend of February, which comes just before the airing of the 88th Academy Awards on Sunday, Feb. 28.
"We are going to screen Oscar-nominated shorts, as we have done in the past few years," Wang said.
Wang feels shorts are the gems of filmmaking.
"To be able to tell a story well in a limited period of time is an incredible art," she said. "Unfortunately, they often don’t get played on the big screen. So, this is a great way to show these films."
Friday’s screenings will include live action shorts.
The subjects include everything from an Afghan-American woman who is an interpreter who has to deliver a baby, because the patient is the wife of an observant Muslim who won’t let another man touch his wife’s baby, to a film about an Orthodox Jewish family whose car breaks down in front of a Catholic church, Wang said.
"This happens on the Sabbath, so the Jewish family can’t use the phone, but the Catholic nuns have taken a vow of silence," she said with a laugh.
Saturday’s shorts are documentaries.
One is about collecting the bodies that have succumbed to the Ebola virus in Liberia.
Another is about filmmaker Claude Lanzmann, who made the Holocaust documentary "Shoah" in 1985.
"The film is about how Claude collected the material for his film," Wang said. "He was a barber in New York and many of his clients were Holocaust survivors."
The last short is about a Pakistani girl who survives being shot in the head by her father because she eloped with the man she loved.
"They are a little dark this year," Wang said.
Sunday night’s shorts are animated films, but they aren’t for children.
"These are definitely PG- to R-rated films," Wang said.
There is one about a young Hindi boy who wants to watch cartoons but has to pray instead.
Two of the shorts are actually hand-drawn animation.
"The World of Tomorrow" is a science fiction piece about a girl who is given a tour of the future by a clone.
"The last one is about Spartan soldiers fighting to the death," Wang said. "This one is more on the R-rated side. There is some nudity and lots of blood."
Since there are so many animated shorts, a couple will be screened on the other nights as well, according to Wang.
For more information about the Park City Film Series, visit http://www.parkcityfilmseries.com.
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The Slamdance Film Festival announced the Narrative and Documentary Feature Film Competition programs, as well as the lineup for its returning Breakouts section, for it’s 26th year that will take place Jan. 24-30, 2020 in Park City.