Wednesday, December 21, 2011

New festival seeks films

Spring weekend to resemble Sundance

Express Staff Writer

Sun Valley has long been a place of deal making. From the annual union of mega-minds in the communications world of Allen and Co. to the chairlift musings that led Powder magazine to be founded here, the people and the possibilities have long been a part of the valley.

In that spirit, a group of movie buffs has laid the groundwork for a Sundance-like film festival using Bald Mountain as the backdrop and lure, and leaning on the entertainment industry ilk that vacation in Sun Valley to bring it to life.

"We are really wanting to make this a community-involved, international, independent film festival," said Bex Wilkinson, chair of the Sun Valley Film Festival, slated for March 15-18.

Thanks to Magic Lantern's Rick Kessler and Sun Valley Co., the festival has venues to show the films.

"Everyone is pitching in where they can," Wilkinson said.

Executive Director Teddy Grennan is a father of two and a happily married screenwriter living in Los Angeles. He co-wrote "Holy Cow!" for Nickelodeon, and his latest story, "The Second Act," is being produced by Ad Hominem for Fox Searchlight. Former Idaho Mountain Express Arts Editor Dana Plasse is serving as director.

Now what they need are films.

"This is a call for entries and an invitation to anyone who wants to volunteer to help with the festival," Wilkinson said.

Once on its feet, the festival will feature a variety of categories, from full-length features and documentaries to short films, children's programs and television series. The emphasis will be cutting-edge independent films, premieres and previews of web and TV programs.

For three days during the festival, the public will be invited to have coffee with visiting filmmakers and industry experts who have come to promote their films.

Two awards given at the end will be distinct to Sun Valley. The One in a Million award will honor films and their makers that were able to make a standout film on a budget of less than $1 million. The other will be the Vision Award, which will recognize producers and their filmmaking journeys.

The maiden year of the festival is being called "Bringing Vision Into Focus," Wilkinson said. A large component will be education and accessibility.

"We want people to learn from each other and to raise awareness about what it takes to make a film today," she said. "It will be a festival on the art of making film."

For more information, visit

The details:

When: March 15-18

Where: Sun Valley Opera House and Magic Lantern Cinema

What: Festival of independent filmmakers.

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