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Sundance Film Festival reaches out to students

Dale Thompson

Many South Summit Middle School Students weren’t in class on Wed. morning.

Instead, the teenagers flocked to Kamas Theatre for a 10 a.m. screening of the Sundance film, "Eve and the Fire Horse." Many of them got to attend as a reward for earning passing grades.

During the 2006 Sundance Film Festival movies are being shown to 5,000 students around the Wasatch Front, benefiting 35 schools.

As part of the Arts and Audiences Program, the Sundance Institute tries to engage students in the festival. They do this by inviting local schools to attend screenings, and sometimes ask film directors to address high school classes.

This year, seven short film makers at Sundance visited 23 classes at Park City High School and showed eight different shorts. These outreach activities were coordinated through the Park City Performing Arts Foundation.

Eva Rinaldi, the Associate Director of Operations for Sundance, explained they made an effort to show films that related to the students’ classes.

Bill Kahn’s 3D animation class saw three shorts including Fumi and the Bad Luck Foot. He said students are using Maya, an animation program, that the filmmakers could answer questions about.

"My kids do this as an assignment and they get to meet people who do this in real life," he said.

Kahn was excited that his students had the opportunity to see three shorts but would have liked them to see more.

"I asked everybody I could ask to get my students into the animation shorts," Kahn said, but he was unsuccessful.

The festival also reaches out to low-income students around the country. Through an application process they select a handful of students to attend Sundance screenings for free or at a discounted rate.

"It’s a way to reach out to the kids. I love the fact that we can show documentaries to kids who might not otherwise see them," said Rinaldi.

For the past four years South Summit Middle School has attended Sundance screenings. Last year they saw "Emperor’s Journey," which became, "March of the Penguins." This year they watched Julia Kwan’s, "Eve and the Fire Horse."

The movie follows two sisters as they battle a streak of bad luck by converting to Catholicism. But the younger sister, Eve, believes in the power of Chinese goddesses and thinks Jesus Christ and Buddha would have been good friends.

After seeing the film, student Elizabeth Briggs said, "I thought it was very confusing, but good. Religion is so broad and has different meanings."

Chris Domenick said, "It was good at parts," and he liked the movie, "just (for) how unique it was in the way it addressed religion."


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