Sundance Film Festival is not the only festival that happens in winter in Utah.
For 12 years, LDS filmmakers have gathered together to show their work and share their experiences with audiences and other filmmakers. The LDS Film Festival started Wednesday and will continue for three days, ending with a closing ceremony Saturday night. There will be a short-film competition, feature films and documentaries presented at the festival.
Movies like “Napoleon Dynamite,” “Saints and Soldiers,” “The Best Two Years” and “17 Miracles” have all been premiered at the LDS Film Festival. For those creating movies, it is another opportunity to show their work to a large audience. There are also workshops and Q&A sessions that will be running in between the movies.
Marlin Sharp, producer at Jeeprassic Productions, movie fan and a constant visitor of the LDS Film Festival, decided to help spread the word about this year’s event.
“Anyone who is interested in film can produce a film and send it in into the festival, and if it’s good you can have it shown at the festival,” Sharp said.
The festival serves as a very first step for many starting filmmakers. Many people start with submitting short films.
“Some of them are so good that filmmakers turn them into full feature films,” Sharp said.
That’s what happened with the “Napoleon Dynamite;” it was originally made as a short film and presented at the festival.
Christian Vuissa, the president and founder of the LDS Film Festival, is in charge of the event and makes sure films presented are of a good quality and that everything runs smoothly. Once a BYU student majoring in film, now Vuissa works in the film industry and produces movies. The idea for the festival came to Vuissa when he was still at BYU.
“I saw a lot of talented filmmakers around me,” Vuissa said. “I just wanted to bring all the filmmakers and films together once a year, show their work to public, (and) present what’s happening right now within the LDS community.”
Vuissa will present his new movie “Silent Night” at the festival. The movie, shot in Austria, tells a story about Joseph Mohr, who wrote the lyrics of the popular Christmas carol.
Directors and screenwriters submitted movies of different genres from all over the world. Among others there will be “The Mine” – the first ever LDS suspense/horror movie.
Director and screenwriter Jeff Chamberlain has been in the movie industry for 35 years. The idea for the movie came to him because he saw the need of that kind of movies in the LDS community.
“I wanted to make it because of the challenge it presented,” Chamberlain said. “The Hollywood uses horror films to send negative messages and they reach young audiences for the most part. When young audiences want to see a horror movie they have to go see what Hollywood produces for them. It is unfortunate that there is no real alternatives.The challenge was not to resort to the (Hollywood) formula.”
The movie will premiere Friday evening at SCERA Center. There will be a discussion with Chamberlain and one of the cast member Saturday afternoon.
More information about the festival, schedule and ticket price can be found here.