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Outdoor film fest celebrates indie spirit

Eat your heat out, Kevin Bacon.

The veteran actor may be famous for his roles in "Footloose" and "The River Wild," but he is no longer the king of six degrees of separation, claims Irene Cho of the Sundance Institute.

Cho and her colleagues were perusing the seven films chosen to be shown over the next seven weeks in this year’s Sundance Outdoor Film Festival beginning Friday in City Park at 9 p.m. with a free screening of "Raising Arizona."

The group tracked directors, actors, screenwriters and composers back to Sundance and found that the institute founded by Robert Redford in 1981 had closer connections to many films than Bacon, the Hollywood touchstone some say can be linked through his film work to any other talent in Tinsel Town.

"We were looking at the films and noticed so many of the films had connections to Sundance," she explained. "These were films that celebrated the spirit of independent filmmaking."

Take the film "Raising Arizona." Joel and Ethan Coen directed the comedy caper staring Nicolas Cage and Holly Hunter.

The film’s Kevin Bacon connection would take a several fancy free footsteps to make, but as Cho pointed out, the Sundance connection is simple: Before winning Best Director and Best Picture Academy Awards for "No Country for Old Men" the brothers won the Independent Spirit Award at Sundance for "Blood Simple."

Cho smiled. "You see the big blockbusters and so many of those filmmakers started out at Sundance," she said.

The film series, called Six Degrees of Sundance, is family-friendly and people are invited to show up early to City Park for trivia games and prizes. Winners receive Sundance merchandise and picnics are encouraged, Cho said.

The event is a good way for Sundance to give back to the community. "It’s a great way for people to be interactive," she said. "So many activities are outdoors-oriented and we thought this fit right in."

The event is sponsored by Zions Bank and Mountain Trails Foundation. People who ride bikes to the screenings win a free bike lights, Cho said.

Special events include a tribute to Sydney Pollack before the screening of "Tootsie" Aug. 1 and a meet-and-greet with Brigham Young University alumni Jed Cowley whose film "Loss of a Wrestling Match" will be shown in three weeks.

Six Degrees of Sundance begins Friday at 9 p.m. in City Park with "Raising Arizona."

Information:

"Raising Arizona" July 11

"Iron Giant," July 18

"Adventures of Power," July 25

"Tootsie," Aug. 1

"Moulin Rouge," Aug. 8


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