Park City Film Series will celebrate Oscar-nominated shorts
Academy Award weekend is a big deal for the Park City Film Series.
This is when the arthouse film nonprofit presents Oscar-nominated shorts screenings, said Executive Director Katharine Wang.
“Most of the Academy Award-nominated shorts aren’t shown in theaters,” Wang said. “Programming shorts screenings on a regular basis has sort of become a thing of the past, because when they are screened at film festivals, you will most likely see a collection of shorts or they will be screened before a feature.”
Wang is looking forward to the screenings that will run from March 2-4, Park City Library’s Jim Santy Auditorium, 1255 Park Ave.
“To me, the short-film format, are the gems of filmmaking,” she said. “It takes skill to tell a story, complete with a story arc and character development, in anywhere between four to 32 minutes. So to have that collection together and see these films that are really the best of the year is a unique way to experience these treasures.”
Each night will feature different collections.
Friday kicks off the weekend with animated shorts — Glen Keane’s “Dear Basketball” (U.S.A.), Florian Babikian, Vincent Bayoux, Victor Caire, Theophile Dufresne, Gabriel Grapperson and Lucas Navarro’s “Garden Party” (France), Dave Mullins’ “Lou”(U.S.A.), Ru Kuwahata and Max Porter’s “Negative Space” (France) and Jan Lachauer, Jakob Schuh and Bin-Han To’s “Revolting Rhymes” (U.K.).
“We brought in ‘Revolting Rhymes’ back in September as part of our Art House Theater Day,” Wang said. “It’s a series of stories based on Roald Dahl’s book that is sort of revisionist look at classic fairy tales like ‘Little Red Riding Hood.’”
While “Garden Party” is about a backyard habitat gone wild with a twist, “Dear Basketball” is about Kobe Bryant’s love letter to the game, Wang explained.
“We will also screen ‘Negative Space,’ is a stop-animation short about a father and a boy who are packing luggage,” Wang said. “And ‘Lou’ is about a playground bully who gets his comeuppance.”
While all of the Friday films are animated, they are not all child-friendly.
“Even ‘Revolting Rhymes’ can be a little dark,” Wang said. “So while they are not rated, we suggest the films are appropriate for older teens.”
Saturday’s collection will be documentary shorts.
“I love documentary shorts, and we are curating three of the five-nominated shorts,” Wang said.
The films will be Kate Davis’ “Traffic Stop” (U.S.A.), Frank Stiefel’s “Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405” (U.S.A.) and Elaine McMillon Sheldon’s “Heroin(e)” (U.S.A.).
“Traffic Stop” is about Breaion King, a 26-year old African American kindergarten teacher in Austin, Texas. Officer Bryan Richter stopped her for a routine traffic violation and the stop escalated.
“The stop, which was recorded on the police car’s dashcam, ended with her getting arrested after the officer dragged from her car and threw her to the ground,” Wang said. “I think it’s a timely piece, especially with the topic of race relations in our country.”
“Heaven Is a Traffic Jam on the 405” is about Mindy Alper, a visual artist who is based in Los Angeles.
“She is a brilliant artist who is represented by top-tier galleries, but also suffers from acute anxiety and depression,” Wang said. “The film is about her journey from the challenging childhood that her parents didn’t quite understand. They did, however exposed her to art that allowed her to express herself especially during the low periods of her life when she underwent electroshock therapy and stints in mental institutions. Art, which is unbelievably beautiful and heartbreaking, has kept her alive and allowed her to tell her stories.”
“Heroin(e)” is another hard-hitting documentary about a community in West Virginia whose heorin-overdose ratio is 10 times that of the whole country, Wang said.
“On one hand, the film is about the devastation of the community by the opioid epidemic,” she said. “On the other hand it’s about how the cycle is being broken by three women.”
Those women are Jan Rader, deputy chief of the Huntington Fire Department, Patricia Keller, judge of the Cabell County Drug Court and Necia Freeman, a social worker for Brown Bag Ministry.
“They are changing the trajectory of the community and inserting hope into it through their work,” Wang said.
The documentary shorts are also a good way to build community in Park City, she said.
“The reason is because these films are usually about hard-hitting topics that are both beautiful and devastating,” Wang said. “When people sit through these intense films, they will talk with each other about the films and issues.”
In addition to the documentary-short screenings, Saturday will also feature the Park City Film Series’ annual pre-film Oscar Party, an event that celebrates the art of cinema and raises money for the Park City Film Series, according to Wang.
“The night will feature a silent auction and other Oscar trivia events,” she said. “The theme is Old Hollywood glamor, and we hope people will come dressed up in fedoras and feather boas to get some photos taken.”
Silent auction items have been donated by Farasha, Flight Boutique, Knead A Massage, Montane, Mountain Town Olive Oil, Olive and Tweed, Park City Institute, Natural History Museum, Trio, Utah Symphony and Opera, Vail Resorts, Zoe’s Day Spa and Butcher’s Chop House/Boneyard Saloon & Wine Dive.
The food will be catered by Done to Your Taste, and the drinks curated by Vine Lore and Beehive Gin.
A special tickets price of $50 will include the film screening, three drink tickets, heavy appetizers and reception, Wang said.
“Regular-priced tickets will also available for just the film screening,” she said.
Sunday’s screening features five live-action shorts.
Reed Van Dyk’s “DeKalb Elementary” (U.S.A.), Derin Seale’s “The Eleven O’Clock” (Australia), Kevin Wilson Jr.’s “My Nephew Emmett” (U.S.A.), Chris Overton’s “The Silent Child” (U.K.) and Katja Benrath’s “Watu Wote/All of Us” (Germany, Kenya).
“DeKalb Elementary” is based on a true story about a 911 call when a gunman, Michael Brandon Hill, who was brandishing an AK-47, went to a Atlanta school in 2013.
He was bent on committing mass murder, Wang said.
“The man was talked down and disarmed thanks to a compassionate office worker,” Wang said. “This film is so timely and shows how one person can help avoid catastrophe through compassion.”
“The Eleven O’Clock” is the comedy of the bunch.
“It’s about a psychiatrist and a patient who thinks he’s the psychiatrist,” Wang said. “The film goes back and forth and you’re never quite sure who is the patient and who is the doctor.”
“My Nephew Emmett” is another issue-based work.
The film is about Civil Rights martyr Emmett Till, an African-American boy who was 14 years old when he was lynched in Mississippi in 1955 for looking at a white girl.
“The story of how Emmett was taken by the [lynch] mob is told by his uncle, Mose Wright.”
“The Silent Child” is also another timely piece, because films about the hearing-impaired community are gaining prominence, Wang said.
“This film is about a deaf girl whose parents tried to treat her like everyone else, but to her detriment because they never taught her sign language, and they didn’t accommodate her needs,” Wang said. “The world opens up to the girl through the compassion of a tutor that the parents hired to help her get ready for school.”
The last film of the weekend is “Watu Wote.”
‘The film takes places on the border of Kenya and Somalia and is based on the true story of a group of Muslims who protected their fellow Christian passengers on a bus that was hijacked by extremists,” Wang said.
Wang enjoys Oscar-nominated shorts and is grateful the Park City Film Series will continue to screen them.
“We couldn’t do that without our sponsors One Body Personal Training and Wagging Tails on the Trails who underwrites the program,” she said. “They have done that every year and we have appreciated what we do.”
The Park City Film Series will present screenings of Academy Award-nominated short films from Friday, March 2, to Sunday, March 4, at the Park City Library’s Jim Santy Auditorium, 1255 Park Ave. Friday and Saturday screenings will start at 8 p.m. and Sunday’s screening will start at 6 p.m. Friday’s screenings will be animated shorts. The screenings are appropriate for teens and older. Saturday films, which are documentary shorts, will also include a pre-film Oscar party at 6 p.m. Tickets for the party and screening are $50. Tickets for only the screening are also available. Sunday’s screenings are live-action shorts. Tickets are $8 for general admission and $7 for students and senior citizens. For information, visit http://www.parkcityfilmseries.com.
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