Utah County group plans family friendly film fest in Park City | ParkRecord.com

Utah County group plans family friendly film fest in Park City

Jay Hamburger THE PARK RECORD

A Utah County organization plans to hold a film festival in Park City next year that will screen family-friendly movies, a new entry to a special-events calendar that features other film festivals that few would see as affairs for the whole family.

A group called the Equity United Foundation, located in Alpine, on Monday said it would stage the Park City International Film Festival from June 8 until June 11. The organizers want the event to be held annually.

The Equity United Foundation said the festival will be based at Hotel Park City with the expectation activities will be staged at three or four other locations as well. The other venues have not been finalized.

Harrison Hodges, the managing director of the Equity United Foundation, said the organizers hope to screen approximately 50 films during the inaugural event. He wants to draw approximately 40,000 to Park City for the first festival. It would be one of the largest events in Park City, as measured by attendance, if the festival reaches those numbers.

He said nine full-time festival staffers will select the films. The festival wants to screen films that audiences will see as helping "elevate themselves personally." He said people are "screaming" for the genre.

"We believe elevating the human spirit is critical in today’s world," Hodges said, describing that organizers anticipate faith-based films will be screened.

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In a release announcing the festival, the organizers say 71 films have been submitted for consideration for the event. Domestic filmmakers and filmmakers from places like the United Kingdom, Iran, Germany, Canada and Brazil are interested, the release says. The festival will award prize money totaling $26,000, it says.

Hodges said Park City was selected as the venue based on its status as an internationally known destination. Park City ranks only behind Salt Lake City in international recognition in the state, he said. Main Street offers atmosphere and energy, Hodges said.

Park City is well known in the film industry as the host of the annual Sundance Film Festival in January, long seen as the top marketplace for independent films in the U.S. and one of the elite festivals on the world circuit. The Slamdance Film Festival, another well-regarded film festival, is held alongside Sundance each year. Sundance is the biggest special event on Park City’s calendar, putting more than $80 million into the state economy in 2015.

"We certainly respect the Sundance Film Festival," Hodges said. "They’ve done very well, if you’re talking economics."

The Park City International Film Festival almost certainly will be required to secure a permit from City Hall if the event is as large as the organizers describe. Jenny Diersen, a special events coordinator for the municipal government, said staffers received an application from the organizers that has been deemed incomplete. Diersen said staffers want to learn more about festival logistics and operations. She said City Hall will consider traffic, parking and transportation, among other issues, as it considers the application. The event could require approval by the Park City Council, Diersen said.

The possibility of the event drawing 40,000 attendees would likely be of note as City Hall considers a permit. Crowds that size could lead to traffic jams, stress the bus system, overwhelm parking lots and require additional police resources. Sundance organizers said the 2015 festival drew a little more than 46,000.

The event is scheduled at a time of year that could be intriguing to City Hall and tourism officials, though. The June dates come at a time when tourism is typically slow in Park City, a few weeks before the summer season starts in earnest around the 4th of July. An event that draws large numbers of people in June could been a boon to sectors like the lodging and restaurant industries.

The Equity United Foundation website describes the organization as "embracing light," "empowering virtue" and "inspiring life." The organization’s vision, according to the website, is: "a safe world for people of peace, who love light and life, cherish liberty and pursue happiness, while holding sacred the rights, duties and virtues that enable equity to unite and sustain society."