Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Action traction

2nd annual Sun Valley Film Festival grows

Express Staff Writer

The swimming pool at Sun Valley Resort is just one of the places good ideas have brewed. Photo courtesy of Sun Valley Resort

    As the crowds of film devotees begin to queue up around town to catch one of seven world premieres, witness an axis-tilting indie doc, jockey for a spot next to Jodie Foster over coffee or celebrate spring skiing with a concert with Willie’s boy Lukas, the question isn’t why to attend the second annual Sun Valley Film Festival starting Thursday, it’s why didn’t this happen years ago?
    I mean really, way back in the 1930s, you had trainloads of celebs being bussed up here to provide the glitterati on the snow, you had expert skiers to polish the runs and you had the future settlers who, liking the combination, either stayed or vowed to keep coming back.
    The valley has always been a place of odd juxtapositions. When the Union Pacific stopped in Shoshone and unloaded passengers from its luxury Hollywood cars and loaded them into buses for the rest of the journey, many tourists found themselves rubbing elbows with celebrity. Anyone who has been here more than a year knows that they still do.
    Whether in the pool at the Sun Valley Resort, ski lifts on Baldy or over a burger at Grumpys, idle time here is rarely quiet. Instead, it is spent in perpetual conversation.   
    And in these unlikely mixes, year after year, commonalities were found among the people with stories and those with verve, those with money and those with power.
    Just like cowboys and skiers found their way to getting along with each other through a mutual passion for ski joring, so have those with a love for the area often found that they shared an affinity for movies, which are one of the true American pastimes that can embrace the spectrum of folks and unite them in escape.
    So it made sense when film crews started using the area as a backdrop for their movies, starting with “I Met Him in Paris” (1937) starring Claudette Colbert followed by “Sun Valley Serenade” (1939) starring Sonja Henie. Then there was “How To Marry a Millionaire” (1953) starring Marilyn Monroe, Betty Grable and Lauren Bacall, and “The Tall Men” (1956) starring Clark Gable and Jane Russell. Marilyn came back to shoot “Bus Stop” (1956) and heartthrob Frankie Avalon traded in the sand for a “Ski Party” (1965).  Not long after shooting “Pale Rider” in 1985, Clint Eastwood bought a home here. “Town and Country” (2001) starred Warren Beatty and Goldie Hawn.
    And after years of bouncing the idea around, finally, last year, the Sun Valley Film Festival was launched with the valley as a weigh station for films and visions of Sundance and Tribeca, red carpets and star-filled parties coming to mind.
    This year, between Thursday, March 14, and Sunday, March 17, there will be more than 90 film, TV and video screenings, seven world premieres, 43 feature films, two TV premieres, 20 short films, 14 student films and 15 music videos.
    Of those, four films are Gem-state born. Two entries are from Hemingway Elementary School teacher Scott Slonim’s fifth-grade students: “Skating Partners,” directed by Antonia Avery, Savanna Rush, Sascha Leidecker and Emma MacGuffie, and written by Leidecker, MacGuffie, Murphy Kendall,  Avery and Savanna Rush, and “Time Travelling Kids,” directed and written by Kendall, Leidecker, MacGuffie and Chris Pedersen.
    “Starring Adam West” is the fan-driven effort to see resident celebrity Adam West earn his Hollywood star on the Walk of Fame. Mother and daughter Hemingways share screen time in two films this week: Mama Mariel Hemingway discusses her life beyond her roots in the documentary “Running From Crazy” and 21-year-old Dree Hemingway stars in the full-length feature film “Starlet,” which is already getting her great advance press.
    The mysterious landscapes that captivate some while terrifying others have shaped several of the films being shown this year. Any mother who has driven through the craterous roadways alone with babies knows the thoughts that run wild. In “Craters of the Moon,” a young couple on a cross-country road trip lose their way in a blizzard and wind up stranded in the middle of nowhere. “Nowhere,” they call it! Why would anyone look twice at a red Mustang parked like a cherry on a chocolate chip ice cream scoop? Anyway, as the days pass, their relationship slowly deteriorates, leading to the film’s chilling climax.
    Anyone who lives here year-round knows it doesn’t take a lot to unleash crazy, barren landscapes notwithstanding.
    There are a ton of films to choose from, some likely to make it big when they leave here, some launching careers like that of Buhl native Jaffe Zinn, who used local resident and actor Scott Glenn in his film “Magic Valley” and took home the Zions Bank Gem State Award, which carried a $1,000 prize. He’s back this year with a “work in progress” film, “Children,” about two young women who take a mysterious camping trip through the rugged mountains of southern Idaho that soon begins to test their friendship and sanity.
    Readers can narrow their pool of film choices by visiting the festival website, where they can see trailers for most films and fill their basket with pre-purchased seats.
    Still, on a personal note, anyone who got all tingly over the cop in “Bridesmaids,” played by Chris O’Dowd, won’t want to miss his turn in “The Sapphires,” but if he comes to town, I’m playing my press card, ladies.

‘Stargazing’ freebies:

Thursday, March 14
    “Celeste and Jesse Forever,” starring Rashida Jones and Andy Samberg. nexStage Theatre, Main Street, Ketchum, 11 a.m.

Friday, March 15
    Coffee Talk with Steven Gaghan, Academy Award-winning writer. nexStage Theatre, Main Street, Ketchum, 10 a.m.

Saturday, March 16
    Coffee Talk with the directors and cast members of the festival’s “Work in Progress” slate. nexStage Theatre, Main Street, 10 a.m.
    Screening of National Geographic WILD’s “Kingdom of the Oceans,” as headliner for Family Film Fest, which includes premieres suited for the entire family. 12:30-2 p.m., the Liberty Theatre, Main Street, Hailey.
    Lukas Nelson and the Promise of the Real. River Run Free Outdoor Concert Series, 3:30-6 p.m. Free.

Sunday, March 17
    Coffee talk with Academy Award-winning actress Jodie Foster.

Special opps:

Thursday, March 14
    Screenwriter’s Lab, hosted by Independent Spirit Award nominee Will McCormack, and a Wyoming whiskey reception. Three submissions have been selected with the winning script to be selected by “Traffic” screenwriter and Academy Award-winner Stephen Gaghan. The winner will witness his or her work come to life during a live table read and it will be scored by renowned film score composer Pete Snell, 1-4 p.m., $25.
Saturday, March 16
    “Pale Rider” for Zions Bank Hollywood Heritage Screening. Sun Valley Opera House, 2:30 p.m., $10 without festival pass.

Sounds and sips:

Thursday, March 14
    Red Bull and Pabst Opening Night Party. Live music with El Stash. The Casino, Main Street, Ketchum, 10 p.m., $5 at the door for non-festival pass holders.
Saturday, March 16
    Lukas Nelson and the Promise of the Real. River Run Free Outdoor Concert Series, 3:30-6 p.m. Free.
    The SVFF/Lionsgate Main Event. With Finn Riggins opening for Boise indie rock legends Built to Spill. Whiskey Jacques’, Main Street, Ketchum, 10 p.m., $20 online, $25 at the door for non-festival pass holders.

Sunday, March 17
    Alaska Airlines Après Ski-Closing Ceremony. Jodie Foster will present the Vision Award, nexStage Theatre, Main Street, Ketchum, 6:30 p.m. Priority seating to pass holders and invited guests.

Inside info:
- All coffee talks and freebies are first come, first served.
- Plan on arriving at least 15 minutes in advance of screenings. There often will be seats available at sold-out shows on standby. These are cash-only, $10 seats.
- Remember to check
for up-to-date events.
- HQ is at 251 N. Washington Ave., Suite B, in Ketchum.


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