Eye-opening documentaries, shorts; Moab International Film Festival

MOAB – Tickets are now available for the Moab International Film Festival, scheduled for this weekend among the stunning red rock scenery and friendly climate of Southern Utah.

Poster for "Bidder 70"
Poster for “Bidder 70”

Most screenings will take place at Star Hall and the Backyard Theater throughout Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Some are free and others have a minimal cost. Festival all-access passes can also be purchased. A full schedule and details can be found here.

The film festival is a Utah nonprofit organization whose mission is to showcase stellar independent films of cultural and educational value for filmgoers to enjoy. They aim to share uniquely powerful stories, concepts and ideas from around the world and further independent films that have a positive effect on society.

Final selections have been made and the lineup of films includes several award-winning and highly acclaimed feature documentaries, a myriad of shorts and many other new and unexpected treasures.

“King: A Filmed Record … Montgomery to Memphis”

Associate producer in charge of production Richard Kaplan will introduce “King: A Filmed Record… Montgomery to Memphis,” an Academy Award-nominated 1970 documentary film that the Philadelphia Bulletin once referred to as “perhaps the most important film documentary ever made.” It was originally screened as a one-night-only charity benefit event. Selected by the Library of Congress for the National Film Registry, it was recently featured on NPR’s “Democracy Now! with Amy Goodman” after its digital debut.

The film covers the eight-year period leading up to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s 1963 March on Washington and his legendary “I Have a Dream” speech; from his roots in the church to his rise as a leader for all human rights. The two-part, three-hour film consists almost entirely of newsreel footage, with the exception of cameo appearances from Hollywood stars including Paul Newman, Burt Lancaster, Anthony Quinn, Clarence Williams III, Joanne Woodward, Harry Belafonte, Ruby Dee, Ben Gazzara, Charlton Heston and James Earl Jones.

The screening will be held Saturday at 7 p.m. at Star Hall. A guided question-and-answer session with Kaplan will follow. Because festival organizers feel the film is of great educational value, a separate free screening has been arranged for Grand County High School students.

“The New Black”

“The New Black” is a hot new film that screened at the Los Angeles Film Festival in June, won the Audience Award at AFI Docs and is on IndieWire’s list of “The 50 Indie Films We Want to See in 2013.” The documentary tells the story of how the African-American community is grappling with gay rights issues in light of the recent gay marriage movement and the continuing fight over civil rights. The film documents activists, families and clergy on both sides of the campaign to legalize gay marriage, examines homophobia in the black community’s institutional pillar, the church and reveals the Christian right wing’s strategy of exploiting this phenomenon in order to pursue an anti-gay political agenda.

“The New Black” takes viewers into the pews, onto the streets and provides a seat at the kitchen table as it tells the story of the historic fight to win marriage equality in Maryland and charts the evolution of this divisive issue within the black community.

The film is being presented in harmony with Moab Gay Adventure Week, one of many events leading into the Moab Pride Festival. The screening will take place Sunday at 7 p.m. at Star Hall.

Poster for "The New Black"
Poster for “The New Black”

“This film can help bring people together despite how they feel about marriage equality,” said Nathan Wynn, director of administrative affairs for the Moab International Film Festival. “Rather than separate the divide, this film brings people together.”

“The Ghost Army”

War, deception and art come together in Rick Beyer’s new documentary “The Ghost Army,” the astonishing true story of the American G.I.s — many of whom would go on to have illustrious careers in art, design and fashion — who tricked the enemy with rubber tanks, sound effects and carefully crafted illusions during World War II. From coast to coast, the critics agree; the New York Times called it “remarkable,” with “fresh details and a compelling narrative,” while the Los Angeles Times praised it as “fascinating, detailed and oddly delightful.

In June 1944, a secret U.S. Army unit went into action in Normandy. The weapons they deployed were decidedly unusual: Hundreds of inflatable tanks and a one-of-a-kind collection of sound effects records. Their mission was to use bluff, deception and trickery to save lives. Many were artists, some of whom would become world-famous, including a budding fashion designer named Bill Blass. They painted and sketched their way across Europe, creating a unique visual record of their journey. The story of what these men accomplished was kept quiet by the Pentagon for more than 40 years.

“The Ghost Army” will be screened Friday at 7:30 pm at Star Hall.

“Bidder 70“

“Bidder 70“ centers on an extraordinary, ingenious and effective act of civil disobedience demanding government and industry accountability. In 2008, University of Utah economics student Tim DeChristopher committed an act which would redefine patriotism in our time, igniting a spirit of civil disobedience in the name of climate justice. Follow DeChristopher, aka “Bidder 70,” on his journey from college student to incarcerated felon. Redefine justice for yourself. Choose your side.

Gage Productions has granted the Moab International Film Festival permission to also screen seldom-seen additional footage, which was made after the release of “Bidder 70.” The film will be screened Friday at 5 p.m. at Star Hall. The screening will be followed by a question-and-answer session with acclaimed documentary filmmakers Beth and George Gage and Peaceful Uprising founder Ashley Anderson.

“We Can’t Eat Gold”

“We Can’t Eat Gold” is a timely documentary from Joshua Tucker. Living off the land, Alaska natives defend the world’s largest salmon runs from the impacts of the world’s largest gold mine, the proposed Pebble Mine, which President Obama and the EPA will rule on permitting later this year. Watch families fish for their survival as the film opens a space for tribal elders and youth to share their ways of life, now threatened by the continual march of industrialization. The screening will be held Saturday at 5 p.m. at Star Hall.

Poster for "The Ghost Army"
Poster for “The Ghost Army”

“High Ground”

Winner of the Cadillac Audience Award at Vail, the People’s Choice Award at the Boulder International Film Festival and the Audience Award for Best Documentary at the Newport Beach Film Festival, “High Ground” follows 11 veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan who join an expedition to climb the 20,000-foot Himalayan giant Mt. Lobuche. With blind adventurer Erik Weihenmayer and a team of Everest summiters as their guides, they set out on an emotional and gripping climb to reach the top in an attempt to heal the many wounds of the longest war in U.S. history.

Representing nearly every branch of the military, the veterans, and the Gold Star mom who joins their trek, bring humor and deep emotion to this hero’s journey, all captured with breathtaking, vertigo-inducing cinematography by three-time Emmy winning director Michael Brown. “High Ground” will be screened Sunday at 1:30 p.m. at Star Hall.

“City Lax: An Urban Lacrosse Story”

Filmmakers Gabriela Cowperthwaite and Tor Myhren follow a group of pre-teens from Denver’s inner city as they find a hint of salvation from their violent neighborhoods and troubled young lives in the most unlikely sport, lacrosse. From the moment the kids discover what a lacrosse stick is to the heart-stopping finale at the state championships, the documentary takes viewers on an unforgettable journey. The screening will be held Saturday at 11 a.m. at Star Hall.

In addition to feature-length films, several short films will be screened during the festival. Short film selections include “Animation Hotline,” which screened at the Cannes Film Festival, “Treibjagd,” a German feature about a young woman’s coming-of-age hunting journey, “Crackdown!”, a comedic look at raising chickens in Toronto, “Gelati E Granite,” a film about a man and his simple life serving gelato in Italy and “Under the Acorn Tree,” a music video with nostalgic qualities.

Thanks primarily to the help of the Canyonlands Film Society, the festival will host free outdoor screenings of family-friendly films with broad appeal. These films will be shown Friday and Saturday nights starting at 8 p.m. at the Backyard Theater. Highlights include animation, shorts and “Lady B’s First Winter,” a documentary that follows an avalanche rescue dog’s training, from puppy to adulthood, with the Telluride Ski Patrol.

From the obscure, “London Memory Multiplicity,” a 25-minute Bergsonian psychological experimental film, and other oddity shorts will be featured on Sunday.

Poster for “King: A Filmed Record... Montgomery to Memphis”
Poster for “King: A Filmed Record… Montgomery to Memphis”

In response to community request, the festival has sought out films with family-friendly appeal. One of particular interest for all ages is “Fear of Flying,” a story about a bird who is afraid of flying and winner of multiple awards, including Best Animation at the LA Shorts Fest and Glasgow Short Film Festival. It will be presented in a free outdoor screening.

“Why We Climb” is expected to pique local interest. As the title implies, it presents an explanation for those who have never rock climbed and a kindred connection for those who know exactly why they climb.

“(This is) a cinematic and refreshing look at climbing from a purist’s introspective eye view and with a camera,” Wynn said. “I think Moabites will like it.”

Aside from the films, local restaurant/bars Eddie McStiff’s and Frankie D’s will host musicians, including the Slickrock Allstars and Darrel Draper, every night of the festival. For more information on any aspect of the film festival, please call 435-261-2393 or visit http://www.moabfilmfestival.org/

Event details and contact information
Date: Sept. 20-22
Time: All day
Location: Moab
Admission: Varies; see website
Contact: Moab International Film Festival – 435-261-2393

Submitted by: Moab International Film Festival

Email: news@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

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