The Sun Valley Spiritual Film Festival's mission is to celebrate the spiritual elements in our lives through "the illuminating power of film," co-director Mary Gervase said at a gathering north of Ketchum Tuesday night.
The latter part of her statement was conceived by the late Mila Riggio, who was a board member of the nonprofit organization. Riggio's spirit was with the other board members and friends who met to hear about the film lineup for the coming festival, to be held Sept. 13 through Sept. 16.
"Mila was an incredible part of this festival," Gervase said. "She spearheaded the marketing from day one. She was such a creative force. Her spirit ebbed and flowed."
This year's will be the third annual festival, which is fully community supported. In 2005, 15 films were screened. Last year, 130 films were submitted and 30 screened. This year there were more than 280 submitted, with at least 25 to be shown at the Sun Valley Opera House and the Liberty Theatre in Hailey.
Movies to be shown were made in Israel, Denmark, Italy, Turkey, Canada, the Philippines, Russia, India and the United Kingdom. There are at least five from the United States. Two of the movies will have their world premieres.
"We judge on the quality of the filmmaking, the story, the production value, audience value and alignment with our mission," Gervase said.
Her partner in the festival, Claudio Ruben, could not attend the party.
"Story is everything," documentary filmmaker Steve Crisman said at the gathering. "Without story, you have nothing to share. If you touch one person and you keep touching you'll probably make a difference."
Special events will include a cocktail preview party at Andrea Friesen Gallery in Ketchum, and a panel discussion on forgiveness. The cocktail party, to be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13, will feature the photography and presence of Dave Edwards, an expert on Mongolia.
Special speakers will include Crisman, philosophy professor Karma Lekshe Tosomo, and filmmaker and priest Father Frank Disiderio.
Festival passes costing $108 will include access to panel presentations and the cocktail preview party. Passes will be available at Chapter One Bookstore in Ketchum, starting Monday, Aug. 20, or by calling 788-9729. There will be individual passes available for each screening as well.
Films are available also for sponsorship. Call Gervase at 788-9729 for more information or visit svspiritualfilmfestival.org.