Tuesday, July 16, 2019
Sun Valley Film Festival-It’s a Wrap
Emma and Greasy had a thing going on in “The Biggest Little Farm.” Courtesy: John Chester.
Wednesday, March 20, 2019


The eighth annual Sun Valley film Festival, as they say in the industry, is a wrap.

It featured plenty of kudos for Sun Valley from filmmakers and actors. it screened at least a few new films that should be on people’s “to see” list.

And National Geographic’s Felipe DeAndrade, who takes audiences around the world on “Untamed” adventures, even got his own untamed adventure when Sun Valley Resort ski instructors took him to the top of Baldy and taught him to ski

Roy Campanelli made a powerful film about the abuse of Native Americans in Canada that lasted up until recently. COURTESY: Sun Valley Film Festival.

There were a few films that slipped under the radar that had a powerful impact on those in the audience.

  • “The Biggest Little Farm,” directed by Academy Award winning director John Chester, is a must for anyone who cares about where our food comes from –and everyone else.

    It follows Chester and his wife as they acquire a foreclosed hardpan farm an hour north of Los Angeles after being evicted from their apartment because of their dog’s barking. Within seven years of implementing old-fashioned farming methods, everything works together to make the farm beautiful and productive, from the geese that eat the snails to the hawks that keep other birds from ravaging the fruit.

    National Geographic’s 50th anniversary “Apollo: Missions to the Moon’ includes never-before-heard mission tapes. COURTESY: Sun Valley Film Festival

    It has the heart of a Lassie movie with incredible close-ups of snails and more.

  • “Indian Horse,” directed by Clint Eastwood’s longtime steady cameraman Stephen Campanelli, tells the story of an eight-year-old Ojibway Indian boy in the late 1950s who is torn from his family and placed in an abusive residential school. He is able to keep his head above all because of his passion for hockey, which could take him to the NHL—until a ghost from the past stirs up the unspoken anger in him. “You must weep,” a counselor tells him. “Your silence is killing you.”

    Campanelli, who has worked on every one of Eastwood’s films since “The Bridges of Madison County,” said the boy is a composite of real-life children who endured the Catholic schools. The 9-year-old Indian boy who stars in the movie had never acted before. But his parents agreed to let his braids be cut so that the story could be told. They donated his black locks to be used as wigs for those fighting cancer.

    “Penguins” tells their story through the eyes of Steve. COURTESY: Sun Valley Film Festival

    Campanelli, who was honored by the presence of Alynn Stewart (“Sully”) and Clint Eastwood, endowed the film with some show-stopping cinematography in the early going.

  • The world premiere of DisneyNature’s “Penguins” enchanted filmgoers with a look at Adelie penguins that they won’t soon forget. “I laughed even harder at this film than at ‘Long Shot,’ and that was billed as a comedy,” one woman told filmmaker Roy Conli.

Sun Valley Film Festival scored a coup of sorts getting “Running with Beto” into the festival the same week the former Texas Congressman announced his bid for the presidential nomination on the Democratic ticket.

Filmmaker David Modigliani said the inspiration for the movie came when his Austin, Texas, ball team played an El Paso team with a lanky centerfielder named Beto O’Rourke. Then Modigliani went along for the ride as a man who was given no chance to beat Sen. Ted Cruz nearly pulled it off.

“Running with Beto” isn’t a sit-on-the-edge-of-your-seat thriller, but it does provide an interesting look at the multi-tasking man who would be President and the colorful characters backing him. COURTESY: Sun Valley Film Festival

The doc, fueled by Tom Petty’s “Runnin’ Down a Dream,” will be broadcast on HBO May 28.  People can also arrange for home showings via the website, he said.

“The Parts You Lose,” starring Idaho native Aaron Paul is a well-written, well-directed film about a fugitive’s bond with a young deaf boy.

Other films that got thumbs up from filmgoers included “Marriane & Leonard: Words of Love,” about Leonard Cohen, and “The Parting Glass,” a thoughtful depiction of survivors’ reaction to suicide.

Rock and roll fans will enjoy “David Crosby: Remember my Name.”

Documentaries did very well—even Portuguese filmmaker Mariana van Zeller was impressed with the world premiere of “Apollo: Mission to the Moon,” which drew a full house at the Sun Valley Opera House.

And actors and filmmakers were impressed with Sun Valley.

Meg Ryan offered kudos to the Argyros Performing Arts Center, and Fisher Stevens—a Hemingway fan--did the same from the Sun Valley Opera House, wondering if Ernest Hemingway had ever seen an opera there.

DisneyNature’s Ray Conti said Sun Valley was the perfect place to stage the world premiere of DisneyNature’s “Penguins,” given its bounty of snow.

“I don’t know how there’s so much snow here because there are no clouds—ever,” said Chris Albert, of Nat Geo.

The ninth annual Sun Valley film Festival will take place march 11-15.


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