Park City Film Series picks up where Sundance and Slamdance left off
Screenings start this weekend
Although this year’s Sundance and Slamdance film festivals are over, there are still plenty of opportunities to see independent and art-house films in Park City.
Just ask Katharine Wang, executive director of the Park City Film Series that will resume screenings this weekend at the Park City Library’s Jim Santy Auditorium.
“We have a great lineup of films, all of which we picked before the Oscar nominations went out,” Wang told The Park Record. “[Our programmer} George Dymalski did, yet again, a great job.”
The first film out of the gates showing Thursday through Sunday, Feb. 3-5 will be Barry Jenkins’ “Moonlight,” which won a Golden Globe for Best Picture and is up for eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
“‘Moonlight’ is probably one of the most talked-about films of the year,” Wang said. ”It came out at Toronto and Telluride film festivals. It just has been knocking everyone’s socks off in terms of the style of storytelling and how the particular story is told.”
The narrative, which was adapted from a three-act play, follows the story of a gay, black teen who is growing up in one of Miami’s tougher areas.
“There are universal themes that run throughout,” Wang said. “It’s about masculinity, identity, friendship, sexuality, family and human connection and the struggles that this boy faces.
“We’ve been trying to get it for months, and we’re lucky to get it as the first film coming back from Sundance,” she said.
The next film out of the gates is Pablo Larrain’s “Jackie” that will be screened Feb. 10-12.
Natalie Portman, who is nominated for Best Actress, plays Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, Wang said.
The story, which takes place before, during and after John Kennedy’s assassination, is told by Jackie’s perspective. She talks about the struggle she had standing up for herself and how she wanted her husband and herself to be remembered.
“Pablo is a Chilean filmmaker and this is his first English-language feature,” she said. “He’s an incredible storyteller. He’s unabashedly political, but there is something about that [Chilean] storytelling that is different than how Americans tell and hear stories.
“He doesn’t follow a linear trajectory and has a beautiful way of weaving in different parts of the tale to complete the picture,” Wang said. “It’s like a tapestry.”
The Park City Film Series will follow “Jackie” up with Garth Davis’ “Lion” on Feb. 17-19.
“Lion” is another Oscar-nominated film that’s also up for Best Picture, Best Actress and Actor, Wang said.
“This is another beautiful story that takes place in a different part of the world,” she said. “It’s about a young boy, Saroo, who lived in Central India with his mother and family.”
Saroo and his family are very poor and while he and his brother scavenge at a local train station, Saroo accidentally gets on a train that takes him 1,000 miles away to Calcutta.
“He arrives at a place where he can’t speak the language and can’t tell anyone where he’s from,” Wang said. “After living on the streets, he is adopted by an Australian family, whose mother is played by Nicole Kidman.”
Fast-forward to modern day, Saroo is grown up and played by Dev Patel, known for his starring role in “Slumdog Millionaire.”
“He’s kind of lost and is at a place where he thinks about his identity and uses Google Earth to find where he is from,” Wang said. “So, the second part of the story is about his journey back to India to find who he really is. It’s an incredible, moving tale.”
Oscar-nominated shorts will be screened the last weekend of February.
Animated shorts will screen Friday. Documentary shorts will screen on Saturday and live action narratives will screen Sunday.
“I love the short-film format,” Wang said. “To tell a story in less than 40 minutes is incredibly difficult to do. This is where you often see the best in class of filmmaking.”
The Park City Film Series will host a pre-film reception on Saturday night.
“You can just come and see the films, or you can come and celebrate independent
filmmaking and independent cinema with us,” Wang said.
There will be a special $30 ticket price if you want to attend the reception that will include adult beverages and snacks.
“This is really one of the only places you can see these short films,” Wang said. “They are just not available to see broadly in theaters.”
Wang did want to emphasize that the animated shorts aren’t really made for children.
“Animation is the platform, but they are not rated G,” she said.
The Park City Film Series will, however, screen two free films for children during the month.
The first will be Steve Martino’s “The Peanuts Movie” at 2 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 3, at the Summit County Library Kimball Junction Branch, and at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 4, at the Park City Library’s Jim Santy Auditorium.
“This is part of our Books 2 Movies series and the film is rated G,” Wang said. “It’s the classic story of Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the rest of the Peanuts cast.”
The second children’s film screening is a stop-motion Spanish-language film by Maria Fernanda Rivero called “Itzl y Sonia” (“The Adventures of Itzel and Sonia”).
“This film is part of our Dual Immersion Language program and we got it out of a Mexican Film Festival,” Wang said. “It’s about Itzl and his best friend, who is a frog, as they search for the Guardian of the Water after their city runs dry.”
Wang enjoys hosting Dual Language Immersion films.
“Most foreign language children’s films don’t have an access point into the U.S. market, so, it’s fun to scour the Spanish and French-language world to find films that will appeal to our audience,” she said.
“The Adventures of Itzel and Sonia” will screen at 2 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 10, at the Summit County Library Kimball Junction Branch, and at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 11, at the Park City Library at 4 p.m.
Another February special screening will be geared for adults.
“We’re brining in Nick Novacic’s documentary called ‘Decanted,’ which is all about wine making on Feb. 16,” Wang said. “The film is about the process of making wine and you hear from iconic winemakers. There is unbelievable craftsmanship and how it all works.”
Tickets are $35 and the cost includes three glasses of wine. Ticket proceeds will benefit the National Ability Center, a nonprofit that provides recreational activities for all abilities.
“The event is for ages 21 and older only and we will have a wine tasting before the film presented by Reynolds Vineyard and Italics Winery, which are showcased in the film,” Wang said. “The wine tasting will start at 6. The film will start at 7 p.m.”
Wang is excited the Park City Film Series is starting up again this month.
“I did hear a lot of people say, ‘I didn’t get tickets to that film, but it’s OK, because you’ll bring it back,” she said. “It’s nice that people make that connection with us and Sundance because of the types of films we show.”
The Park City Film Series will restart its season with a screening Barry Jenkins’ “Moonlight,” rated R, from Friday, Feb. 3, through Sunday, Feb. 5, at the Park City Library’s Jim Santy Auditorium, 1255 Park Ave. Friday’s and Saturday’s screenings will start at 8 p.m. Sunday’s screening will start at 6 p.m. Tickets are $8 for general admission and $7 for students and senior citizens. For information, visit http://www.parkcityfilmseries.com.
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