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Cerebral lineup starts 2006 for film series

MATT JAMES Of the Record staff

While the preparations begin for the 2006 Sundance Film Festival, the Park City Film Series is resuming its regular season. After its annual holiday break, the organization will return to the Jim Santy Auditorium this weekend with its screening of George Clooney’s "Good Night, and Good Luck."

The common element of the new calendar, according to Park City Film Series executive director Frank Normile, is the intelligence of the films.

"They’re all very, very cerebral films," he said.

A few also have a bit of a political bent. That will be on display from the start, when the Santy screen lights up again on Thursday, Jan. 5, when the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Series presents its sneak-peek screening of a 2006 Sundance Film Festival with the World Documentary Competition film, "Angry Monk: Reflections on Tibet." The film focuses on the late Tibetan monk Gendun Choephel and his influence on the current Tibetan culture. The film will begin at 7 p.m.; it is free and open to the public.

From there, the film series will running for two weeks until the film festival with "Good Night, and Good Luck," followed by a smaller, less well known film, "Paradise Now."

The first piece chronicles CBS anchor Edward R. Murrow’s confrontation of Senator Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s.

Normile noted some significant Oscar talk surrounding the film and the relevant perspective it provides on the current American media.

Meanwhile, he said "Paradise Now" provides a view of one of the subjects of the contemporary media. The film follows two young Palestinian men who agree to become suicide bombers as they navigate what might be the last 48 hours of their lives.

That film will close the film series for a pair of weeks as Sundance comes to town, with the series reopening on Friday, Feb. 3 with "The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio," a film about a 1950s and ’60s suburban housewife who, through clever intelligence, helps support her family by winning jingle contests from companies.

"’The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio," Julianne Moore could get an Oscar nod for that one," said Normile.

While the film made virtually no noise in the box office, he noted, it still offers quality.

"It came and went, but it’s good," said Normile. "That’s a really good film that not many people know about."

Following "The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio," the 2005 Sundance Film Festival film "The Squid and the Whale" will play. The film, for which Noah Baumbach won the directing and screenwriting awards at the festival, tells the semi-autobiographical story of two brothers coping with their parents’ divorce. Normile said it was a shoo-in for several Oscar nominations, and already, the Golden Globe Awards have nominated the film for the Best Musical or Comedy, award, with stars Jeff Daniels and Laura Linney each nominated in their respective acting categories.

Feb. 17-19, "Pride and Prejudice" will play, presenting the latest version of Jane Austen’s iconic Victorian novel with a cast including Keira Knightley.

The next weekend, the 2005 Sundance Film Festival documentary "New York Doll" will screen with its portrait of the late Arthur "Killer" Kane, the bassist for the seminal punk rockers, The New York Dolls, and his story of religious conversion.

Another ’05 Sundance doc will open up March, when Werner Herzog’s "Grizzly Man" plays as a part of the Documentary Film Series on March 2. That film tells the story of grizzly bear researcher Tim Treadwell, who tried to live among the bears until he was killed by them.

"Ushpizin," a Jewish comedy shot entirely in accordance with Jewish law about an orthodox man living in Jerusalem, will run that weekend, with another film, "Plagues and Pleasure on the Salton Sea" playing on the following Thursday, March 9, as part of the Best of Slamdance film series. That film examines a community of eccentric living in the southeastern corner of California along the Salton Sea, and exactly how they got there.

March 10-12, "Darwin’s Nightmare" will close out the current film series calendar. A documentary about the introduction of Nile Perch to Lake Victoria, the film tells a tale of an ecological disaster committed upon the land.

"We have a real ecological bent to this, with ‘Grizzly Man,’ ‘Plagues and Pleasures on the Salton Sea,’ and ‘Darwin’s Nightmare,’" said Normile. "All of those are ecological issues."

Normile also talked a bit about the film series’ plans for the coming year, beyond the fist few weeks in March. "Capote" will be showing, he said, and some other events will occur.

"The film series is going to do two things, which we’ve been working on for a while," he said.

The first is a filmmaking contest, called the New Reel Project, which Normile said would likely take place May 12-14. The local filmmaking event will include a category for student filmmakers, whose movies will show on Friday, and another category for adult filmmakers, which will run on Saturday. Awards in both categories will be given on Sunday.

Normile said the film series was accepting films from Summit County residents to screen in the contest.

"What it’s going to do is promote filmmaking in the community," he said.

There will be a $600 award for first place in each category, with $300 for the second-place finisher and $100 for the third-place entry, he added.

The second new program Normile talked about has an educational bent.

"There’s something the film series has been thinking about for a long time," he said. "It’s called Third Thursdays."

The free film series, he said, would feature older, more noted films with an acknowledged educational component. They films would play for free the third Thursday of each month on April 20, May 18 and June 15 at 7 p.m.

But while the snow still flies, the film series will focus on its current calendar.

"It’s real nice, real eclectic," Normile said.

And with lots of films to make a viewer think, he said it fit perfectly with the film series’ aims and ideals. Because while the local commercial theatre will likely have all the big studio flicks; it might not have all the smaller independent movies.

"Cerebral films are really well serving our public," he said. "Because there’s a lot of fluff out there."

For more information about the Park City Film Series or the films screening there and for a complete schedule, visit http://www.parkcityfilmseries.com .


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