That’s a wrap: Sun Valley Film Festival celebrates successful third year

Screen shot 2014-03-19 at 9.28.03 AMIf you read my column two weeks ago, you know that Sun Valley geared up for a party last weekend. The third annual Sun Valley Film Festival attracted directors, actors and film buffs to Idaho. Well, the shindig has ended, the dust has settled, and the awards have been distributed. Here’s a summary of the events in press release form from Carol Waller at CW Communications:

3RD ANNUAL SUN VALLEY FILM FESTIVAL WRAPS; ‘LITTLE ACCIDENTS’ TAKES HOME THE VISION AWARD, WHILE ‘BLUE RUIN’ and ‘ANTARCTICA: A YEAR ON ICE’ PICK UP THE ONE-IN-A-MILLION AWARDS

 

Sun Valley, ID – March 17, 2014 – The 3rd annual Sun Valley Film Festival wrapped up a successful, fun-packed festival over the weekend with a jumping Saturday night awards party hosted by actor Michael Weaver and a rousing set by Nashville rockers Those Darlins entertained the crowd with the winners pogoing and moshing their way into the night. Sunday saw a final Coffee Talk with filmmaker Kevin Smith on hand to delight a packed house at the nexStage Theater, as well present an encore 20th anniversary screening of his landmark film CLERKS.

“We couldn’t be happier with this year’s festival,” said SVFF executive director Teddy Grennan, continuing, “Our pass sales doubled over last year and we had close to 150 filmmakers and other special guests in attendance. The SVFF is really earning a reputation as a special place for film artists to gather and we’ve focused on developing a film festival that is intimate, insightful, and inspiring, and people seem to really appreciate that.”

Producers Jason Berman, Anne Carey, Tom Fore, and Summer Shelton picked up the festival’s top Vision Award for LITTLE ACCIDENTS, which recognizes a producer’s ability to keep a dramatic, feature length film in focus during the journey of the project while the dramatic and documentary One-In-A-Million” awards for feature length films made for under $1,000,000 went to BLUE RUIN and ANTARCTICA: A YEAR ON ICE respectively. The festival’s Audience Award went to Mike Myers’ directorial debut, SUPERMENSCH and earlier in the week, Paula Sewell won the High Scribe screenplay competition for her animated script LE CHAT NOIR, after which a scene was performed by actors Joshua Leonard, Alison Pill, Michael Weaver, and Peter Cambor

“I am so pleased with this year’s fest,” said festival programming director Laura Mehlhaff. “The audiences came out in droves and the attending filmmakers all had a spectacular time viewing each others’ works and interacting with all the great industry guests.”

This year saw the launch of a new initiative at the SVFF in partnership with Nat Geo WILD and the African Wildlife Foundation. The 1st Annual WILD to INSPIRE prize was awarded to Dan Duran, Sam Price-Waldman, and Brendan Nahmias for WOLF MOUNTAIN. Director Dan Duran will receive an opportunity to study filmmaking and wildlife in the Maasai Steppe landscape in Tanzania, Africa with Emmy Award winning cinematographer, Bob Poole.

“The camera lens is so often the instrument by which Africa’s incredible wildlife story is told,” says African Wildlife Foundation Maasai Steppe Director John Salehe. “The Maasai Steppe is home to many well-known African species, such as elephants and lions, but the wildlife also faces a variety of threats, from poaching to conflict with humans over space and resources. We are thrilled to sponsor the winner of this year’s contest and look forward to his lens capturing the triumphs and challenges of protecting wildlife not just in Tanzania, but on a rapidly changing African continent.”

Nat Geo WILD and Sun Valley Film Festival also announced they will be doing a second competition. More details to follow in the coming months.

Other jam-packed festival programs drew locals and out-of-town guests alike, including:

Coffee Talks, where industry experts offered their insights to festival audiences each morning, featured Academy Award® nominated Producers Ron Yerxa (NEBRASKA, LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE), and Jim Burke (THE DESCENDANTS, ELECTION), Writer, actor, director Kevin Smith (CLERKS), and actor Mariel Hemingway (PERSONAL BEST, STAR 80).

• Screenwriters Lab and High Scribe Competition, featuring a rousing and informative talk by 2014 Academy Award nominees Melisa Wallack and Craig Borten (DALLAS BUYERS CLUB) and a live table read of Borten’s new pilot, “Sheriff” with actors including Scott Glenn, Mariel Hemingway, Josh Leonard, Alison Pill, Jennifer LaFleur, Peter Cambor, Jess Weixler, Michael Weaver, George Ayres, Jordan Kamp, Keith Moore and Charlotte Hemmings.

• Informal afternoon “Après Ski Bites” with Q&A sessions with filmmakers and others, including “Sons of Anarchy” creator Kurt Sutter, “Believe” show runner Jonas Pate, producer Jason Berman (LITTLE ACCIDENTS), and producer Heather Rae (I BELIEVE IN UNICORNS).

Other notable items:

• At the Awards ceremony, producer Ron Yerxa (NEBRASKA) praised the festival as being “friendly, festive, and fun,” and told the audience to “spread the word…, but do it carefully” to avoid spoiling this gem of a fest.

• The festival turned downtown Ketchum’s Starbucks into an elegant yet rustic dining hall on Friday night with a catered feast for all filmmakers and special guests, including Coppola wines and elk lasagna.

• Singer/songwriters/actors Haroula Rose and Daniel Ahearn entertained the crowd and Rose had guests crying in their elk lasagna with her rendition of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Kathy’s Song.” Rose also had a short film in the festival (for the second year in a row) and was an associate producer on FRUITVALE STATION. The pair also opened for Those Darlins, the following night.

Many attending filmmakers and guests also took full advantage of the Sun Valley area’s abundant outdoor activities, including a visit to a local hot springs.—

Jury and Full List of Awards:

Producer Caspar von Winterfeldt, director Fredrik Bond (CHARLIE COUNTRYMAN), actor Peter Cambor (“NCIS Los Angeles”), actor Michael Weaver, actress Pell James Burns (THE LINCOLN LAWYER, ZODIAC) and director William Olsson (AN AMERICAN AFFAIR).

The SVFF features a diverse list of awards, including two cash prizes designated specifically for Idaho filmmakers and one for student filmmakers under 18 years old. In addition to two audience awards (narrative and documentary), the festival’s juried awards include:

The Vision Award: Recognizes a producer’s ability to keep a dramatic, feature length film in focus during the journey of the project. Winner: LITTLE ACCIDENTS, Jason Berman, Anne Carey, Tom Fore, and Summer Shelton, producers.

The “One-In-A-Million” Awards: One narrative and one documentary for feature length films made for under $1,000,000. Winners: Jeremy Saulnier for BLUE RUIN and Anthony Powell for ANTARCTICA: A YEAR ON ICE

The Audience award: Winner: Mike Myers for SUPERMENSCH

The Gem State Award: Presented by festival sponsor Zions Bank, is a $1,000 juried prize that recognizes an Idaho filmmaker whose work best reflects the beauty and diversity of the Gem State. Winner: Andrew Garcia and Nathan Garcia for THE LIGHTHOUSE

The Gem State Junior Award: Recognizes the best short film made by an Idaho student aged 18 or younger along with a prize of $250.  Winner: Ethan Holt for THE MIND ABSENT OF SILENCE

The Hot Shot Award: Presented to the best film helmed by a student filmmaker under 18 years old along with a $500 cash reward, sponsored by the Marshall Frankel Foundation. Winner: Malone Lumarda for BLACK ROCK CREEK

The Shorty Award: Presented to the best short story film, no matter the genre or aesthetic. Winner: Elliot Thomson for LE REFUGE

The Focus Award: Celebrates the cinematographer who most brings the film’s vision into focus. Winner: Zack Spiger for RUN

Michael Deeds is the Idaho Statesman’s entertainment columnist and Scene magazine editor. His column runs Fridays and Sundays. He appears on the 6 p.m. broadcast of "Today's 6 News" on Thursdays and hosts a music show, "The Other Studio," from 9-10 p.m. Sundays on 94.9 FM The River.

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