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Sundance resurrects 2006 documentaries

Dan Bischoff, Of the Record staff
A still from the movie So Much So Fast. The film follows Stephen Heywood as he fights ALS (Lou Gehrig s disease).
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The roaring crowds of the Sundance Film Festival are yet to invade Park City.

When it does, the 10-day movie smorgasbord is hardly enough time for locals to watch more than 100 independent films.

That’s why they bring some back, with directors and all.

"We want to bring back to the community films that were screened before," said Jill Miller, the managing director for the Sundance Institute. "We realize it’s hard to get tickets and we want to bring these back and try to capture the same experience."

Every first Thursday of the month through June 7, excluding February, the Sundance Institute Documentary series will present a free screening at the Jim Santy Auditorium, 1255 Park Ave., at 7 p.m., in association with the Park City Film Series.

All of the films in this series are films that were screened at the 2006 film festival.

"We try to select a number of the films that were supported by the Sundance Film Documentary Fund, a fund that was originally donated to films with a social conscience," Miller said.

Following each film, the filmmaker, critics, subjects of the film and the audience will have to opportunity to participate in an open discussion. This will benefit both the consumer and the filmmakers.

"This is a great opportunity to bring the filmmaker back and show their film and participate in a dialogue with the community," Miller said. "One of the core goals of our organization is to continue to support filmmakers and provide a platform for their work."

This may be the only time Parkites will have a chance to see these documentaries.

"We select films that may not have theatrical distribution," Miller said. "Many of the films are films you may never get a chance to see again."

Although free, this series creates a win-win for both the audience and the producers.

"This is a great way to support the filmmakers by bringing these movies to the community," Miller said. "It’s a benefit to the community and is hugely valuable to the filmmaker."

Each screening will also include a student outreach program in conjunction with the Park City Performing Arts Foundation (PCPAF).

The filmmakers will meet with various classrooms and discuss the process of making their films and the social ideologies of the documentary topics. Miller said they will teach dialogue writing, instruction on filming or whatever is appropriate for the subject matter.

"The filmmakers really like those kinds of things," Miller said. "To talk about filmmaking is a real exciting opportunity. Because they have been here, they are really excited to come back and interact with the community on a more personal level without the chaos, and energy of the festival."

Some of the documentaries will showcase controversial topics and the subject will often be the topic of discussion in the classrooms, according to Miller.

"They are such engaging stories and they will be interested in the subject," Miller said. "It’s incredibly powerful and it’s very eye-opening about how our system works."

The collaboration with the PCPAF has been a long term partnership with Sundance, and Miller foresees that continuing.

"They (PCPAF) are fantastic in terms of making that (student) connection," Miller said.

Miller also credits Frank Normile and the Park City Film Series for making the Documentary Series successful in its fifth year.

"The Park City Film Series have been incredibly supportive and a as a result of that, we’ve had fantastic attendance," Miller said. "This program is successful because three different organizations are really working together to achieve this goal."

The lineup of Documentaries, provided by the Sundance Institute:

Nov. 2, "The Trials of Darryl Hunt" – Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg.

This depiction of the wrongful conviction of a black man for a white woman’s rape and murder offers a provocative, haunting examination of a fear-based, racially biased community and the failure of the criminal-justice system.

Dec 7, "So Much So Fast" – Steven Ascher and Jeanne Jordan.

When Stephen Heywood discovers he has ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), his brother Jamie becomes obsessed with finding a cure, and Stephen and Wendy, the woman who loves him, face some tough decisions.

Jan. 4,

"Clear Cut: The Story of Philomath, Oregon" Peter Richardson.

This articulate documentary profiles a rural Oregon timber town that is torn apart when a rift between conservative and liberal attitudes in the school district threatens a college scholarship that has sent every local high school graduate to college for the last 40 years.

March 1, "The World According to Sesame Street" Linda Goldstein-Knowlton and Linda Hawkins Costigan.

This dynamic documentary offers a behind-the-scenes look at the unexpected ups and downs of adapting the most-watched children’s television show for audiences in some of the world’s political hotspots by incorporating locally relevant themes.

April 5, "DeNadie" – Tin Dirdamal

Maria, a Central American immigrant forced to leave her family to search for a better life, crosses Mexico on her way to the United States and encounters a nightmare. Winner of the Documentary World Cinema Audience Award. Filming with Kimball Art Center

May 3, "This Film Is Not Yet Rated" Kirby Dick

The independent film community has constantly debated the role of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) over the past several years. The issues of piracy, ratings, and the unequal treatment of independent filmmakers (as opposed to the member companies of the MPAA) are all at the forefront of this ongoing discussion.

*due to mature content , viewer discretion is advised

June 7, "Black Gold – Marc Francis and Nick Francis

"Black Gold" is a cinematic journey that explores the world of coffee and trade, from its beginnings with the struggling Ethiopian bean grower all the way to your coffee cup.

Admission to all screenings is free and open to the public. For more information, call 615-8291 or log onto http://www.parkcityfilmseries.com.


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