Friday, March 23, 2012

Film festival boasts successful debut

Buhl native’s ‘Magic Valley’ sweeps awards

Express Staff Writer

Not since "Napoleon Dynamite" became a cult hit at the Sundance Film Festival in 2004 has a little quirky film by an Idaho native gotten so much attention.

"Magic Valley" stars local/Hollywood actor Scott Glenn as the sheriff of a little town full of characters who will all become linked by the death of a teenage girl.

Buhl native Jaffe Zinn wrote and directed the film, which was shot in and around his hometown for under $1 million.

It debuted at last weekend's Sun Valley Film Festival, which in its first year was able to showcase 60 films, including shorts, documentaries, full features and television shows, to standing-room-only crowds.

At the end, Zions Bank's Bryan Furlong presented the coveted Gem State Award, which was created to recognize an Idaho filmmaker whose work best reflects the beauty and diversity of Idaho. The award included a $1,000 prize.

"It was definitely an honor winning the award and to know that people from my home state appreciated the movie," Zinn said in a statement released by Zions Bank.

Festival Chair Bex Wilkinson said Zinn also won the One in a Million prize for a full-feature film made for less than $1 million.

"War Elephants," featuring locals Bob and Dr. Joyce Poole, directed, produced and written by David Hamlin, about the handful of elephants that survived war and poaching in Mozambique and their efforts at rehabituation, received the same honor.

The Vision Award, which recognizes the producers of dramatic, feature-length films, went to Heather Rae and her work on "Magic Valley."

Finally, the Sun Valley Film Festival Audience Award went to "Soda Springs" and director Michael Fiefer. The film, which stars Jay Pickett, Victoria Pratt, Michael Bowen, Patty McCormack and Tom Skerritt, was about a man's return to his hometown.

"Most of our films were sold out," Wilkinson said. "We needed to do second runs. It was amazing."

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