This year’s Filmmakers Showcase features more female voices than in the past
What: 14th annual Filmmakers Showcase
When: 7 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 21
Where: Park City Library Jim Santy Auditorium, 1255 Park Ave.
Filmmakers Showcase films, run times and filmmakers
“Breakup Melody,” 2 minutes, Alex Tremblay
“Dot,” 2:29 minuntes, Mia Cutler and Lindsay Miller
“Dutch’s Dino,” 1:09 minutes, Nan Chalat Noaker
“Hunting Season,” 59 seconds, Nan Chalat Noaker
“Ken’s Cash,” 59 seconds, Nan Chalat Noaker
“Kraeft,” 6:59 minutes, Kelsie Moore, director, DP, editor; Doug Fabrizio, director; Elaine Clark, producer
“Lithium,” 6:42 minutes Taylor Rees
“Melita,” 2:54 minutes, Miriam Albert-Sobrino and Sonia Albert-Sobrino
“Palimpsest,” 6:43 minues, Jan Andrews
“Paper Trails,” 15:56 minutes, Heather Moser, director; Whitney Palmer, actor
“Preservation for Tomorrow,” 7:10, Gracie Cier
“Reenactress,” 9:53, R.J. Hardman
“Reverie,” 5:05, Claire Wiley
“Sad Words of Tongue and Pen,” 10 minutes, Paige Sparks
“Sanctuary,” 4 minutes, Carol Dalrymple and Dane Christensen
“Temazcal,” 16:02 minutes, José L.C. Manzo
“The Wreath,” 25:35, Shawn Saunders and Alexander Woods
Special virtual reality short which can be seen before/after the main program
• “Stages,” 3:37 minutes, Angela Rosales Challis
Jill Orschel, curator and organizer of the Filmmakers Showcase, which will be held Thursday, Nov. 21 at the Park City Library’s Jim Santy Auditorium, said this year’s roster of filmmakers, actors and subjects is composed of 24 people, of which 17 are women, more than any showcase in the past.
“That wasn’t by design, or anything. I just cast a wide net throughout Utah, and the program develops from whatever comes in,” Orschel said
This year’s lineup will feature 18 films that range in length from 59 seconds to nearly 20 minutes, and the genres include documentary, narrative and experimental, according to Orschel.
The evening will start with a virtual reality work called “Sanctuary” by award-winning documentary filmmaker Carol Dalrymple, according to Orschel.
“As people arrive, we will give them headsets to experience the VR before we start the screenings in the auditorium,” she said. “It’s not a demo, like we had a couple of years ago. It’s an actual four-minute film.”
“Sanctuary” was inspired by a 12-year-old girl who came out as gay during a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints testimony meeting in 2017.
“She was stopped mid-sentence by one of her local church leaders, and it was caught on a video that went viral,” Orschel said.
Dalrymple decided to give the girl, known only as Savannah, a chance to finish what she was going to say. So she took a 360-degree camera and a crew and filmed the girl’s full statement, Orschel said.
“What she says is powerful, and the experience of the VR is powerful for viewers,” she said. “The viewers are put in the middle of the church. So when they look around, they are in the congregation. I’m so proud to have the piece in the showcase.”
“Sanctuary” will also be available to experience during the showcase’s post-screening reception, according to Orschel.
On a more humorous side of filmmaking, the evening will also include a documentary called “Reenactress,” by J. R. Hardman, Sundance Institute’s manager of operations for artists.
“J.R. moved here from the Deep South, where she participates in Civil War reenactments,” Orschel said. “Most of these reenactments are done by males, but there is a group of women who dress up as soldiers and do these portrayals.”
The documentary, while humorous at times, examines the challenges these women face, including ridicule from the men while they act out the historical battles, according to Orschel.
Another documentary that is yet untitled is by Paige Sparks, who spotlights her grandmother.
“The grandmother is a sweet woman, and in the film, she recounts how her husband abused her, which she hasn’t talked about before,” Orschel said. “She also tells why she chose to stay with her husband. And what audiences will see is this real nuanced mindset that goes beyond her being a victim or feeling trapped in the situation, because it will start to understand why she stayed.”
Stories such as the ones Sparks’ grandmother and Savannah tell are surfacing because women are starting to be heard, Orschel said.
“With the #MeToo movement and things like that, women have been emboldened to tell their stories, and people are listening,” she said.
As a filmmaker herself, Orschel has found that films in any genre — documentary, experimental, narrative and animation — by women go deeper into the human experience, she said.
“There are traditional hero stories about the good guy slaying the dragon, but us females are slaying the dragons with,” she said. “Sometimes the purpose of a film isn’t to shoot, tackle and beat the dragons. It can also be about centering oneself.”
Returning female filmmakers who have shown at past showcases include the Also Sisters (Miriam and Sonia), Nan Chalat-Noaker of Nanimation Studios, Kelsie Moore from RadioWest, Bolivia-born Angela Rosales Challis and Park City High School junior Mia Cutler.
“These filmmakers have upped their games in recent years and are putting out well-crafted stories that require a lot of hard work and tenacity,” Orschel said.
Orschel is grateful that the Utah Film Commission has come on board as the Filmmakers Showcase lead sponsor.
“They are also working to support local filmmakers, because they see the importance of the unique stories these smaller, grassroots films tell,” she said.
The Utah Film Commission, which is part of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, supports Utah as a filmmaking destination, and also promotes any filmmaking that takes place in the state, said Derek Mellus, Utah Film Commission production manager.
“We do that by working with organizations like the Filmmakers Showcase, because what Jill does is bring attention to the talent in the state and the work they do,” Mellus said. “The showcase illustrates just how much work and quality is being produced in the state by other filmmakers.”
Having filmmakers see each others’ works is not only important to the community at large, but also the local filmmaking community, Mellus said.
“I think everybody feeds off of each others’ abilities and inspires them to make more stuff,” he said. “Also, a filmmaker may see an actor in one film and want to cast that person in their film.”
Mellus respects Orschel as a filmmaker, but also a festival curator.
“There is a large amount of work that goes into the hours it takes watching and weeding through the films to come up with a program,” he said.
Over the years, Mellus has seen a growth in the filmmaking talent behind films that have screened in the showcase.
“I coordinate a short-film festival called the Fear No Film Festival with the Utah Arts Festival, and there are many films I’ve seen in the showcase that I just had to program for my festival,” he said.
Orschel is also grateful for her partnership with Park City Film, one of the sponsors for the Filmmakers Showcase.
“They started the Made in Utah program, which we are part of, and that is starting to take off in a wonderful way,” she said. “As a filmmaker, it’s exciting to have organizations such as Park City Film reach out in a grassroots level to helping underrepresented voices, such as female filmmakers, get their stories out.”
Orschel said filmmaking has become more competitive in the past few years because of wider accessibility to cameras and editing software and programming, due to technological advances.
“The content and creator pool is enormous,” she said. “It’s hard to stand out, and the resources that are available to filmmakers is few and far in-between and very competitive.”
This is why Orschel continues curating the showcase.
“Being a filmmaker myself, it’s wonderful and important to have the gatekeepers, such as programmers and exhibitors, support filmmakers and filmmaking and encourage networking opportunities,” she said. “This is what the filmmakers’ showcase has always been about. We want to gather filmmakers, film lovers and film supporters together under one roof to get inspired by great art and storytelling.”
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