Park City Film Series packs September with thought-provoking screenings | ParkRecord.com

Park City Film Series packs September with thought-provoking screenings

The Park City Film Series mission is to create community through film by presenting the best of independent feature, documentary, world and local cinema, said Executive Director Katharine Wang.

That means the nonprofit's programmers are constantly seeking films that not only entertain, but teach and give film lovers a launching pad for dialogue surrounding hot-topic issues in the world, she said.

"This is what our audience expects, especially knowing that Park City is the home of the Sundance Film Festival," Wang said. "We want to make sure the films, even the children's films, we screen are high quality and artistically well done."

The series, which screens all of its films in the Park City Library's Jim Santy Auditorium, opens its 2018-19 season this week with a special screening of "Art + Belief," a documentary still in development, local filmmaker Nathan Florence, an art teacher at Weilenmann School of Discovery.

The film is about the late gay Mormon artist Trevor Southey.

The screening will kick off the Park City Film Series' new Utah Film Series, according to Wang.

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"We keep getting 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."

The film series' official first weekend screening will be Morgan Neville's documentary "Won't You Be My Neighbor," from Sept. 7-9.

The film, which is about Fred Rogers, known for his PBS children's show "Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood," premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival.

"This is a well-received film about Fred Rogers as an individual, and also his impact on generations of children," Wang said. "If you grew up watching 'Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood,' there is a nostalgia the goes along with that, but even if you didn't grow up watching the PBS TV program, you can still connect with his messages regarding emotional intelligence, mindfulness and the grace he brought to his work. We don't see a lot of that radical kindness in this day and age."

The film series' next set of weekend screenings, from Sept. 14-16, will be Debra Granik's "Leave No Trace," another 2018 Sundance Film Festival entry.

"This film is based on the book, 'My Abandonment' by Peter Rock, who will be the guest speaker of the Friends of the Park City Library's annual luncheon in October," Wang said. "It's the story about a father and daughter who lived their lives off the grid in the woods outside of Portland, Oregon. Of course, as things go, they are 'discovered' by the authorities, who try to force them to live a more conventional lifestyle."

Tim Wardle's "Three Identical Strangers" will continue the weekend screenings on Sept. 21-23.

This documentary, which is about triplets who were separated at birth, won the U.S. Documentary Special Jury Prize at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, Wang said.

"It is a stranger than fiction story about three brothers who were separated at birth and reconnected at college," she said. "It examines the powerful tie that multiples have."

The film also includes a darker aspect, according to Wang.

"It's interesting to see the different elements of joy when they first realize they are brothers and embark on the talk-show circuit, but it's also interesting to see how they deal with some of the things they uncovered on the way as to how they grew up," she said. "There is so much more than meets the eye in this story. It's a fascinating tale."

Breaking up the series of weekend screenings is Art House Theatre Day, on Sunday, Sept. 23.

"This is when art houses across the country celebrate the art of independent cinema and connect stories with communities," Wang said.

To celebrate, the Park City Film Series will present 3:30 p.m. matinee screening of Benjamin Renner and Patrick Imkert's animated film "The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales." Admission is $5 and the price will include free popcorn.

"'Big Bad Fox' is like a 'Looney Tunes' cartoon with a French twist, and everything isn't as peaceful as it seems in a farmhouse," Wang said. "It's kind of a slapstick-y tale that is rated G and fun for families. This screening will be in English, and we'll show the film again in October in French. We would love everyone to come celebrate art house films."

Ian Cheney's "The Most Unknown" will mark the first special screening of the Park City Film Series' 2018 Reel Community Series on Thursday, Sept. 27.

"The Most Unknown" is a documentary that follows nine scientists in a variety of disciplines to different parts of the world to uncover answers to questions about life's origins and the nature of consciousness, Wang said.

"They explore topics such as dark matter and consciousness, and try to explain these things from their various disciplines to the other scientists," she said. "So the microbiologist tries to understand the physicist's findings and the psychologist's interpretation and so forth. And it's interesting how the different disciplines explain the complex topics and experience the joy of discovery."

The film is part of the Park City Film Series' STEM Education program.

"We use film to engage youth with science, technology, engineering and mathematics," Wang said. 'This screening will be followed by a panel that features science educators."

The final weekend screening of September will be Scott Gaffney's "All In," Matchstick Productions' 2018 ski film, from Sept. 27-30. Friday night's screening will feature athlete autograph sessions and free giveaways.

"All In" is a ski documentary that follows a group of women who wanted to disrupt the male-dominated ski film formula, according to Wang.

"It's not, however, about how women skiers can be just as good as men skiers," she said. "It's just about these incredible athletes who happen to be women."

The film features Angel Collinson, Michelle Parker, Tatum Monod and Elyse Saugstad, to name a few, and it was partly shot in Utah.

"You will see some great scenes from Snowbird and other scenes from all over the world," Wang said.

Wang looks forward to Park City Film Series' new season, and thinks the September screenings are a strong start.

"We packed a lot of screenings in the first month, but it wasn't just to show as many films as we could," she said. "We wanted to show films that addressed a variety of issues and told some amazing stories."

Park City Library’s Jim Santy Auditorium. Friday and Saturday’s screenings will start at 8 p.m. Sunday’s screening will start at 6 p.m. The film, which premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, is about Fred Rogers, known for his PBS children’s show “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.” For information, visit http://www.parkcityfilmseries.com.