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Local talent shares spoghtlight

What do an erotic yogi, a polygamist wife, a chaplain, a bag lady and a world-class paraplegic mountain climber have in common?

They are the subjects of dramatic shorts, comedies and documentaries featured in the fourth Park City Filmmakers Showcase being held Dec. 3 at the Jim Santy Auditorium at 7 p.m. Admission is free and anyone is invited to attend.

Jill Orschel, the event’s founder and a projectionist for the Park City Film Series, said she was impressed with the number of submissions, about 15, produced, written, directed and filmed by locals.

The event is especially important in the wake of the controversy swirling around the gay marriage ban that passed earlier in November in California and subsequent calls to boycott the state of Utah.

No one is better suited to respond to threats to stay away from Sundance than actual filmmakers in Park City, according to Orschel. "We would like to make a big statement in Utah that we are against discrimination," she said, adding that the diversity of topics covered in the showcase is testament to the town’s cosmopolitan sensibility.

Participants get to see their work on the big screen and, as importantly, share their artistic vision. "People can expect to see films by friends and neighbors they didn’t know made movies," Orschel said. "I help facilitate artists to not just sit there in the closet, but come out and share their work."

The evening mimics the format of premiers at the Sundance Film Festival with a question-and-answer session following the screenings. But unlike Sundance, the showcase is not a competition. "This is just for fun," Orschel explained. "It’s totally no pressure. Some are serious filmmakers and for others, it’s the only time they’ll ever experience showing their work of art in front of a real live audience."

The series started as a family friendly venue, but as films have wandered into adult themes, Orschel encouraged parents to find a babysitter for the evening.

Orschel’s 10-minute documentary, co-produced with Alex Fuller, chronicles the experience of a polygamist wife. It took the filmmakers three years of traveling down to Southern Utah to develop enough trust to make "Sister Wife."

"We felt like we were the sister wives and the film was the husband," Orschel joked.

The work being showcased isn’t just cinematic. Photographer Mark Maziarz will show slides of portraits he has taken of local personalities. For the project, Maziarz cobbled together a digital camera and a 100-year-old antique lens. "I’ve always liked having only the subject in focus," he explained. To achieve the effect, Maziarz pored over books on photo optics and used the striking aesthetics of Park City to inspire him. Maziarz has lived in Park City for nearly 20 years. "It’s the prettiest place I’ve ever lived," he said. "I started taking sports pictures, pictures of mountain biking and skiing, then scenes of people hanging out on Main Street and then portraits. I still feel like it’s a small town."

Although participating for the first time in the showcase, Maziarz has been in the audience in past years. "It’s eye-opening to see all the people who make movies here," he said.

Frank Normile, considered a vital catalyst for the local film scene, will be honored with an award for his contribution to local filmmaking. He is the founder of the Park City Film Series, which co-sponsors the event. "There’s a true love of cinema here," he said. "There’s an astounding amount of people who support the arts."


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