Wednesday, August 10, 2011

‘Phantom Wolves of Sun Valley’ premieres at nexStage

Wolf documentary explores a sensitive issue

Express Staff Writer

A new documentary by DeSiree’ Fawn explores the heated controversy of wolves living in Idaho. Courtesy graphic

When DeSiree' Fawn and her mother were in line ordering food at Perry's in Ketchum, they heard an argument about the elk population and wolves. It was at that moment that Fawn decided she was going to make a documentary film about the controversy over the reintroduction of wolves in the West and focus on the first state-sanctioned wolf hunt that took place around the Wood River Valley during fall 2009.

"I wanted to do it because I wanted to learn about it," she said. "It ended up sparking something deeper within me. It was not just a surface project."

Fawn said the wolf issue symbolizes a cultural conflict.

"I grew up on a ranch near Carey and moved to Sun Valley," she said. "I'm the fifth generation of a ranching family in the valley with deep ranching roots. I've lived in two different worlds."

The film has been accepted at numerous film festivals around the nation, and will screen at the nexStage Theatre in Ketchum today, Aug. 10, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10, available at Chapter One Bookstore in Ketchum. A reception before the film screening will take place from 6:30-7:30 p.m. at the nexStage.

Fawn said she completed "The Phantom Wolves of Sun Valley" in under two years while earning her master's degree in media studies at The New School in New York City.

"The Phantom Wolves of Sun Valley" received an award of merit from The Accolade competition, a national competition that recognizes outstanding work in film, video and television. The film includes footage by local cinematographer Bob Poole, but for the most part, Fawn shot and edited the film.

"This film has all parts of my world," she said. "It's about my own education."

The documentary covers every aspect of the wolf controversy, from wolf haters to wolf lovers, all of whom reside or visit the Wood River Valley. Fawn explores the subject matter in a juxtaposing point of view where there is no right and wrong, only a look at all sides of the issue.

In addition, Fawn carefully constructs the story of those for and those against wolves through many beautiful images of Idaho, including views shot from flying over mountaintops, snowy streams and elk herds passing through valleys.

A poignant point discussed by an official at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife office in Montana is a description of how people and wolves have always had a strong spiritual bond from the earliest times of man, and it is this way throughout the world.

Sabina Dana Plasse:

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