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For the week of Dec. 8, 1999 through Dec. 14, 1999

Cannes, Telluride, Toronto, New York, Sundance…Sun Valley?

Locals hatch plan for Sun Valley Film Festival

Express Staff Writer

Well, it’s more than a plan. It’s a go.

After a year of research, Ketchum’s Wanda Petitclerc and Kate Wright created the Sun Valley Film Festival, probably the region’s most recently established nonprofit organization. In October of next year, an array of local and international talent will converge in Sun Valley to screen new movies and celebrate the art of acting.

It’s too early to say for sure who that talent will be, but the two festival founders said they have a long list of major actors, directors and other industry professionals who are willing to participate.

The three-day day film festival, to be held mostly at the Sun Valley Opera House, will pay tribute to the art of acting with lectures, panel discussions, a play reading with local and international actors and screenings of new films.

The "heart and soul" of the festival, Petitclerc said, will be the celebration of an acclaimed actress and actor. Their past and recent work will be the highlight of the festival. A premier screening of their latest features will begin each tribute.

Screenings will include documentaries, shorts, silent films, animation features and commercials.

A newly written play by an established playwright will be read publicly for the first time by actors. The playwright will be in attendance.

If anyone has the background and passion to pull off a film festival of this caliber here, it’s Petitclerc and Wright.

Wright helps organize the Sun Valley Writers Conference and has organized past film festivals for the Sun Valley Center for the Arts. For most of her life, Petitclerc has been immersed in Hollywood—as an acting student under director Daniel Mann and as a collaborator with her husband, screenwriter Denne Petitclerc.

And both Petitclerc and Wright are devotees of the medium. A recent interview with them could not begin until the pair had thoroughly debated the film Flawless and then checked their watches to see when they could make an afternoon showing of Being John Malkovich.

"Our goal is to educate and entertain," Wright said in the interview. "And we think it will be good for the whole valley."

Petitclerc and Wright plan to give as many people as possible an opportunity to attend festival events. Educational programming for children will be one of the hallmarks of the festival, Petitclerc said.

The choice of acting as a focus came after the two researched other major festivals and discovered that acting was always incidental to the festivals. Acting was also chosen on behalf of the talented base of actors living and working here.

"The local theater is so strong," Wright said. "It makes sense for the festival to celebrate their art."

Wright said that Company of Fools co-founder Denise Simone has joined the festival’s advisory committee and Laughing Stock director Kathy Wygle has pledged her support.

Other individuals and organizations who have pledged support, according to the festival’s website——include the Idaho State Film Commission, the Ketchum-Sun Valley Chamber of Commerce and Ketchum attorney Brian Barsotti. Variety magazine and the Sun Valley Co. are listed as festival sponsors.

Petitclerc and Wright said they will donate a portion of the festival proceeds to community theater groups to support youth programs. Another beneficiary will be the Los Angeles-based Motion Picture and Television Fund Foundation.

At the festival website, Petitclerc and Wright state their overall mission: "We plan three nights and three days of absorbing events in which young and old can forget about the world and indulge in great films…to not only pay tribute to the art of acting, but to also create an atmosphere in which the actor’s art can be seriously practiced and truly appreciated."

Look out Sundance.


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