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Slamdance films highlight new Santy lineup

by MATT JAMES

Slamdance films can be hard to catch. Miss one of a few film festival screenings, and you might be out of luck. But the Park City Film Series is bringing a few back. The organization will continue its Best of Slamdance Film Series this week and Dec. 8, with screenings of "Commune" and "In a Nutshell," respectively. "Commune" tells the story of a group of artists and activists who move to a ranch in the Californian wilderness in 1968, trying to live by the slogan, "free land for free people." "It was a big hit at Slamdance last year," said Frank Normile, the executive director of the Park City Film Series. Normile also noted that the film offers a good example the quality some of the Slamdance movies. "I’m happy to be, again, showing the Best of Slamdance," said Frank Normile, the executive director of the Park City Film Series. In addition to the Slamdance films, the schedule will also include a screening of "Metallica: Some Kind of Monster," which is part of the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Series, on Dec. 1. Both the Sundance and Slamdance film series are free. "The free films are working out very well for us," said Normile, "and hopefully the R.A.P. (Restaurants Arts and Parks) Tax people agree." The R.A.P. Tax provides a significant source of funding for the relatively low-budget film series. Normile also noted the 2005 Global Lens film series, which visited the Park City Film Series screen in September. "I was happy with Global Lens," he said. "The numbers were all right." The films, said Normile, offered some of the most interesting views of the Third World he had seen perspectives from within the cultures. The newest Park City Film Series calendar started with "The Constant Gardner" last weekend and continues this weekend with "Broken Flowers," a Jim Jarmusch film about a man, played by Bill Murray, who launches a trip to visit each of his past loves in search of a lost son. "[It’s] a very powerful story of a man going back into his past loves to see if he had fathered a child," said Normile. Nov. 18-20, the 2005 Sundance Film Festival film "Junebug," will screen, chronicling an intellectual Chicago art dealer’s trip to rural North Carolina to see her husband’s family. That film will be followed by another 2005 Sundance Film Festival work, "Rize." "It’s very, very electric, almost," said Normile. The movie, he said, offers a different perspective of a different world, showing a group of urban dancers in chronically-depressed Southwest Los Angeles. "You see the gang members take on this ferocious rivalry of dance," Normile said. The film, he said, illustrates the almost-complete separation between the mostly-black areas of Los Angeles and the mostly-white areas of the city, and the reality of life in the black areas of the city, from which many of the dancers come. "I think this film gets at that," Normile noted. "Metallica: Some Kind of Monster," the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Series film, plays Dec. 1 and documents a stretch of time in the lives of the members of the iconic rock band, Metallica. The following weekend, a Chinese film, "Balzac and the Chinese Seamstress" will play. Based on a book of the same name, the film is a love story set in the mountains of China telling the story of a man’s "reeducation" by the Chinese government. Normile said the film was significant for a few reasons. "The novelist somehow got to direct the version of the film in China," he said. The story, he noted, is a partially autobiographical account of director and author’s Dai Sijie’s experiences. According to Normile, the Park City Library will put together a display with an English translation of the book and a the books featured in the film. The Best of Slamdance Film "In a Nutshell" will play next in the lineup. "It’s a very, very powerful story and a great example of the kind of story Slamdance brings to our community when it’s here," said Normile. The documentary follows the life of "Nut Lady" Elizabeth Yegsa Tashjian, who, while once a regular on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show, is, at the time of the film, a ward of the state of Connecticut, confined to a nursing home against her will. The film, noted Normile, speaks to how society treats the eccentric. "Beautiful Country" will continue the month for the film series, playing Dec. 9-11. Like the 2005 Global Lens films, the work tells the international story of a Vietnamese boy with a GI father who must travel from his native country to the U.S., and while Nick Nolte and Tim Roth star in the film, Normile said it isn’t a typical movie. "It’s not really an American Hollywood film," he said. Rather, shot by a Swedish director in mostly Vietnamese (with English subtitles) the film tells its story from the perspective of one foreign to the United States. To close out the film series’ December films, "The Memory of a Killer" will screen. "This is the story of a hired assassin who is getting on in years and suffering from Alzheimer’s," said Normile. While "The Memory of a Killer," is an action film a genre the film series traditionally avoids according to Normile, the film was just too good to ignore. The movie is as much about Alzheimer’s, he said, as it is about assassins. After "The Memory of a Killer" closes on Dec. 18, the film series will go dark for Christmas and New Year’s weekends, and return for two weeks in January before the 2006 Sundance Film Festival. But on the current calendar, Normile said there should be plenty to watch. "I’m real happy with this lineup," he said, "I think it’s one of the best lineups I’ve put together." The Park City Film Series regular screenings are $5 for students and seniors and $6 for all others. 10-punch passes are available for $45. For a complete schedule or more information, visit http://www.parkcityfilmseries.com.


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