Sundance: Utah under the lens

Published January 21, 2008 2:29 am
A handful of films at this year's festival have ties to the Beehive State
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This year, a number of films at the world's largest independent film festival were either shot in the Beehive State or made by filmmakers from Utah.

Could one of them become the next "Napoleon Dynamite," a Sundance smash by a local filmmaker that exploded on the pop scene? Only time will tell.

Here's a look at films in this year's Sundance Film Festival with a local connection.

Adventures of Power (Midnight)

Director Ari Gold teams up with "Entourage" actor Adrian Grenier (and yes, "Entourage" fans, that's the director's real name - the same as the Jeremy Piven character in the HBO series) for a comedic romp about the world's greatest air drummer in a small town who dreams of being a real musician.

Parts of the movie were shot in Helper and near Tooele. And one of the producers was Salt Lake City-based Don Schain, producer of the "High School Musical" films.

"We had a great crew that was willing to put up with low-budget conditions in the mountains and the rain," Gold said about shooting in the state with a Utah crew. "And [Schain] made it all happen. It's a good family to be a part of."

The Guitar (World Premiere)

It only seems natural that Amy Redford, Robert's daughter, would follow in her famous father's footsteps. She was born in Ogden and grew up at Sundance, so being around the festival atmosphere is nothing new.

Now she's a participant with her first film, "The Guitar," a drama about a dying woman who pursues her dreams in the last two months of her life.

The Loss of a Wrestling Match (Short Film Program)

Brigham Young University graduate (and now New York University film student) Jed Cowley directed this short about a wrestler preparing for the match of his life against a higher-ranked opponent.

Cowley is no stranger to film competitions. Last year, his commercial was picked by the Utah Film Commission for its Spot On Commercial Contest, to find the best television commercials that highlight filmmaking in Utah.

Cowley's winning entry, in which he showed Utah filming scenery to the sounds of classic movie scenes, also won the top prize from the state's Addy Awards for advertising.

"It was evident there was talent there that needed to be expanded," said film commission director Marshall Moore. "When we saw it, we immediately said it was superior to anything we had seen."

The Deep (Short Film Program)

Alex Haworth is a University of Utah film-studies major with his first film premiering at the festival.

"The Deep" explores the mind of an underground machinest who fixes the machines that operate a futuristic city.

Force 1 TD (Short Film Program)

Randy Krallman is another former Salt Laker who made an 11-minute story about three friends - one of whom is visually impaired - who set out to find a special pair of sneakers for his miniature guide horse.

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