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"Bidder 70" • Environmental activist Tim Dechristopher (shown here with his attorney, Pat Shea) and his act of civil disobedience are covered in this documentary.
The year in Utah film: Redford sets sail, Comic Con rules
First Published Dec 28 2013 01:01 am • Last Updated Dec 30 2013 08:44 am

Utah’s best-known movie star had a big year in 2013, and it could get even bigger in 2014.

Robert Redford — the actor, director, producer, activist and founder of the Utah-based Sundance Institute — got the best reviews of his career for the movie "All Is Lost." The movie, written and directed by J.C. Chandor, stars Redford as a solitary sailor whose boat hits a wayward container box in the Indian Ocean. With only his wits and his courage, Redford’s nameless character must fight storms and setbacks in an attempt to get help.

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Redford’s mostly wordless performance received raves, a Best Actor honor from the New York Film Critics Circle and a Golden Globe nomination. He is likely to get an Oscar nomination, the first time he’s been so honored for his acting since "The Sting" in 1973.

He also was the honoree at a gala tribute hosted by Utah Gov. Gary Herbert — a crossing of the aisle for two men usually at opposite ends of the political spectrum.

Other big film moments in Utah in 2013:

A crowd for Comic Con » The lure of movie stars, TV performers and comic-book legends proved irresistible for thousands who attended the first Salt Lake City Comic Con in September. Somewhere between 70,000 and 80,000 attended the three-day event, straining the Salt Palace space to the point where the fire marshal was keeping people out. Stars such as William Shatner, Henry Winkler, Adam West, Lou Ferrigno and the granddaddy of them all — Marvel Comics founder Stan Lee — were the big draws. But the real fun was the attendees themselves, many of them devising the most elaborate costumes of their favorite TV, movie, comic-book and video-game characters. Organizers are planning to do it again next September and have another event, Fan XPerience, set for April.

Big bombs, shot here » It’s not the red rocks’ fault for the movies that get made in them, but two of this summer’s biggest flops — the Disney-produced update of "The Lone Ranger," starring Johnny Depp as Tonto, and the ponderous futuristic survival drama "After Earth," starring Will Smith and his son Jaden — were partly filmed in Utah.

Little movie that could » It’s been a while since a Mormon-themed movie didn’t disappoint at the box office and with critics, but "The Saratov Approach" pulled it off. A thoughtful, well-paced drama about two LDS missionaries kidnapped in Russia, the independently distributed movie got good notices and earned (according to the website Box Office Mojo) an estimated $1.4 million in theaters since its October opening.

Out of prison, on the screen » On April 21, environmental activist Tim DeChristopher finished his nearly two-year prison term for monkeywrenching a 2008 BLM auction of oil and gas leases. The next night, he made his first public appearance at the Utah premiere of "Bidder 70," a documentary about his case. The movie by Colorado filmmakers Beth and George Gage chronicled not only the many delays in his court case, but DeChristopher’s philosophy and his coming to terms with his imminent incarceration.

Starving artist » Utah filmmaker Richard Dutcher made a point of showing how serious he was about finishing his next movie, the comedy "The Boys at the Bar." To drum up publicity for a crowd-sourcing campaign to fund the movie’s post-production, Dutcher announced in May he would go on a three-week hunger strike. He made it 12 days before health issues made it necessary to quit the fast. The crowd-sourcing campaign was a success, raising the $30,000 goal and then some.

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