Park City will get a Winter Whiteout with film festival
Winter Whiteout Film Festival
When: 7 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 7
Where: Park City Library’s Jim Santy Auditorium, 1255 Park Ave.
The snow guns are firing up at Park City Mountain Resort, and that means ski season will be here in no time.
To celebrate the coming cold, Wasatch Mountain Arts’ Wasatch Mountain Film Festival is set to present the Winter Whiteout Festival at 7 p.m. on Wednesday at the Park City Library’s Jim Santy Auditorium, 1255 Park Ave.
The pair of documentary screenings include Sherpa Cinema’s “Always Above Us,” and Bjarne Salen’s “Finding the Line,” said Nate Wharton, Wasatch Mountain Arts senior community development manager.
These films originally screened at past Wasatch Mountain Film Festivals. The festival curates films that have an emotional value to the community and get people excited about the upcoming winter, Wharton said.
The night will kick off with “Always Above Us,” a 13-minute short that features mountaineer Conrad Anker who is documented ascending The Nutcracker, a new ice climb route at Hyalite Canyon in Montana.
The film is a memorial to Anker’s former climbing partner, Alex Lowe, who, along with cameraman David Bridges, got caught and died in an avalanche that barely missed Anker and fellow climber Kris Erickson during an exhibition on the south face of Shishapangma in Tibet in October of 1999, Wharton said.
“Always Above Us,” which premiered in 2015, depicts Anker’s preparation for the climb, and incorporates his and Erickson’s backstory.
“There are some interviews and footage of what Conrad did in order to complete the climb,” Wharton said. “The movie title comes when Conrad talks about how the climb is always above him when people enter the Hyalite Canyon.”
There are segments in the film where Anker has to stop the interviews due to his grief of losing his friend, according to Wharton.
“While the climb was a big one for him physically, it was also a big climb for him mentally and emotionally.”
Wharton said “Always Above Us” was a logical selection for Winter Whiteout.
“Conrad has been a big supporter of Utah and our film festival, so we brought it back,” he said.
The next film, “Finding the Line,” is the headliner of the evening. The 60-minute documentary spotlights Australian snowsport sisters Anna and Nat Segal, Wharton said.
“Anna is an Olympian and X Games slopestyle champion, and Nat is a big-mountain skier who has been on the Freeride World Tour,” he said. “This film is cool because it showcases the dichotomy of their different styles.”
While Nat is more methodical, Anna is the type who improvises according to Wharton.
“Because they are siblings, you get that banter that only sisters can give, when they push each other’s buttons,” he said.
The main theme of “Finding the Line,” which was filmed in Alaska, Canada and France, is fear.
“The film shows how these athletes use their bond to navigate how to use fear and overcome fear,” Wharton said. “It’s cool to see even these people you put up on a pedestal still battle fear and push themselves to do things out of their comfort zone. At one point Nat says she wants to be ‘brave,’ not ‘perfect.’”
The human element of these two films was one reason they were selected for Winter Whiteout, which focuses on outdoor adventure, environmental and social justice films.
“There are a lot of action films that show people cruising down the mountain and jumping off cliffs, and while we like that stuff, we really pride ourselves in finding films that have that human element behind them,” Wharton said.
The 2018 Wasatch Mountain Film Festival, which held screening last spring in Park City and Salt Lake City, received 400 submissions from more than 50 countries, he said.
“From that we narrowed the films to 73, and showcased 50 of them in one week, and put the rest on our VIP online platform,” Wharton said.
Another reason these two films were selected for Winter Whiteout was to create a program that would appeal to various interests.
“They show different sides of the outdoor community, and we wanted to create a place where climbers and skiers could enjoy these films together,” Wharton said. “When that happens, you see a synergy that you won’t usually see in other outdoor film screenings.”
A short intermission will take place between the films, and the audience will get a chance to win some outdoor gear including backpacks and tumblers from the festival sponsors.
“This is a fun part of the evening because it gets people amped to snag some cool gear,” Wharton said. “It also gets them ready for the next film.”
An hour before the screenings, Winter Whiteout will host a reception in the Park City Library’s Community Room, located across the hall from the Santy Auditorium.
“We gather some nonprofits and artists, because we want to showcase other organizations and make this a real community event,” Wharton said.
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