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Home-made film fest grows amidst Sundance

MATT JAMES Of the Record staff
The Park City Film Music Festival will run Jan. 24-29 on the second floor of the Main Street Mall in Park City. Photo courtesy of the Park City Film Music Festival.
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This past January, as he opened the Sundance Film Festival, Robert Redford commented on how quickly the festival’s 10 days seem to pass. Sundance itself packs the week full of films and events, and when corporate events and parties, concerts, and competing film festivals are added, the week-and-a-half seem to disappear in a fog of action too much happens to take it all in.

Among all the events, one home-grown film festival has made a home on the second floor of the Main Street Mall. That festival, The Park City Film Music Festival, is entering its third year.

Organized by local musician and Park City International Music Festival director Leslie Harlow, the Film Music Festival focuses on the role of music in the movies. The event runs from Jan. 24-29 and features both studio and independent films chosen for their music and scores. The festival also includes seminars and educational opportunities for composers, musicians and filmmakers.

Harlow, a long-time Park City resident and a part-time violist for the Utah Symphony, said she started the festival for a simple reason.

"I’ve been involved with film and television music for 30 years," she said, "and I’ve always really enjoyed it."

Harlow said she started the festival because of her interest in film music and in film. With her knowledge about the demand for screenings during Sundance, and her experience organizing other festivals, the film music festival simply seemed to make sense.

"As far as we know, this is the first film festival dedicated to film music," said Harlow.

According to Harlow, the festival will host approximately 50 films, including shorts, documentaries and features, culled from a field of more than 100 submissions. Harlow said she’s just doing that job now.

"I’m watching so many films," she said. "I’m watching films like mad."

Two or three entries are coming in each day, she noted, and the festival lineup is just beginning to take shape.

Films will run nearly continuously for the festival’s six-day run. The festival will judge its entrants in four categories, with awards for Best Use of Music in a Short, Best Use of Music in a Documentary, Best Use of Music in a Feature and Best Film on a Music Subject.

In addition to the screenings, for the second year in a row, the festival will also offer seminars and other educational opportunities.

Michael Rogers, music supervisor and writer for Film Music Magazine, will be in attendance, along with composers Kurt Bestor and Conrad Pope and sound designer James LeBrecht. Harlow said all of them would participate in a panel discussion and deliver seminars during the festival.

According to Harlow the educational part of the festival will be aimed at the Sundance crowd.

"It’s geared toward filmmakers and composers," she said.

But at the same time, she noted the festival’s potential for those locals who would like to see a movie.

"Having lived in Park City for nearly 20 years I know there are more people that want to go to films than there are films," she said. "For the general person who doesn’t have a [Sundance Film Festival] pass, it can be difficult to see many films."

However, she said, tickets to the Film Music Festival are much easier to come by screenings rarely, if ever, sell out so the event offers an alternative for those looking to see some cinema.

Harlow said the Film Music Festival fills a niche during the Sundance Film Festival.

"I think we work very well with Sundance," said Harlow. "We don’t compete. We’re really augmenting what’s going on This really expands, for everyone, what’s available."

Overall, Harlow said she’s running the Film Music Festival much as she does the Park City International Music Festival, which she organizes with her husband, Russ.

"It’s not a large number of people who work on it, but we try to be as effective as we can," said Harlow. "We try to condense things down to the most necessary things we can do."

By doing that, the Film Music Festival which is funded through the nonprofit Harlow directs, the Park City Chamber Music Society can keep its costs low and remain stable as it builds a reputation.

Currently, Harlow said she is looking for volunteers to help run the festival in January. Volunteering, she said, is a good opportunity to get involved with the Main Street scene.

For volunteers and film-goers alike, the festival offers a chance to see some excellent films, according to Harlow. The festival’s motto, "Films you can get into," reflects that.

"We had a lot of locals [last year]," said Harlow, "and this is a great opportunity for locals to see a film."

For more information about the Park City Film Music Festival, go to http://www.parkcityfilmmusicfestival.com. To volunteer for the event, send an e-mail to lharlow


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