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LDS Film Festival Notebook: An opportunity to see something special

By Derrick Clements daily Herald - | Mar 2, 2017

Last night, the LDS Film Festival kicked off, with today being the first full day of screenings. 

Attending a film festival that is highly local offers unique cinematic joys: Familiar Utah scenery abounds in these films, and occasionally familiar local faces as well (Donnie Osmond plays a terrorist in a movie that plays later tonight, for example).

That local quality to the films at a festival like this might make some viewers skeptical, and it’s an apprehension I can understand. After all, it can be an awkward experience for all to be stuck in a dark room with an amateur-made film, where you know that at least some of your fellow audience members were likely involved in the making of the film.

Years ago, I was in an environment similar to that, in a small theater watching a locally made film as part of a series of shorts. I don’t actually remember what the festival was (I was there to support another film’s creators), but I do remember that it was the one time I actually booed in a movie theater. 

In retrospect (and I was not a critic at the time), I could have found a more productive avenue to voice my concerns about the film, like, striking up a conversation with the creator afterward. But I was so disturbed by the footage in the film — which was excessively violent in a way that I had neither seen before or since — that the “boo” escaped my mouth before I even gave it a second thought, as soon as the credits began to roll.

My intention was actually to offer a constructive “boo.” Simply to let the filmmakers know how I felt. Which, again, in retrospect — well, I haven’t engaged in that particular style of film criticism ever since.

But the thing about festivals that are small and local like this is that anything is possible. The films might be terrible, but they might be great. Today, one of the festival films I saw was a fascinating depiction of the experience of pain (“Wild Grass”) that was baffling, original and unlike anything I have seen on a movie screen before.

Some of the films on the lineup at the festival will live and die over the course of this weekend — never to be seen again, anywhere. And while I won’t be “booing” any film, I hope that I’ll get to cheer at least one or two.

The vitality in the air in a place where original creative work is shown is an exciting thing to be a part of.

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