LDS Film Festival comes to SCERA this week

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Wednesday marks the start of the 13th annual LDS Film Festival at the SCERA Center Theatre in Orem, which will continue through Saturday night.

Frances explores the world of insects in the film "Frances and the Bugs," one of the movies Family Films Competition that will be featured on Saturday at the LDS Film Festival. (Photo Courtesy of the LDS Film Festival.)
Frances explores the world of insects in the film “Frances and the Bugs,” one of the movies Family Films Competition that will be featured on Saturday at the LDS Film Festival. (Photo Courtesy of the LDS Film Festival.)

Headed by Christian Vuissa, the film festival’s president and founder, and a BYU media arts graduate, the festival is an opportunity for students to showcase their work and connect with big names for future job and networking opportunities.

“The filmmakers of ‘The Saratov Approach’ won the festival a few years ago, which shows that (the festival) can really launch your career,” Vuissa said, referring to the successful film about LDS missionaries held hostage in Russia.

Kels Goodman, organizer of the LDS Film Festival, also spoke about the value of the event for aspiring theatre and media arts students.

“Our objective is to bring important people who make decisions to help advance careers,” Goodman said.

This year, the LDS Film Festival will feature prominent guests such as the screenwriter for “Star Trek 3” and the filmmakers of “The Saratov Approach” in a panel discussion Saturday morning.

Goodman pointed out the advantage of students getting involved with the festival early on. He encouraged students to submit their work this year to be considered for entrance to the 2015 festival.

Because the festival is relatively new, many who submit their work will have a chance to showcase it to an audience.

“(The festival) is at its prime point right now because we are getting the attention of contributors who may offer a chance for work and real deals,” Goodman said, “whereas at Sundance, the deals have already been made.”

The festival offers something for everyone — amateur filmmakers and casual moviegoers alike — from documentary films about homosexual members of the LDS Church to romantic comedies to hilarious shorts from the 24-hour film competition.

A trademark feature of the festival is the 24-hour Filmmaking Marathon, in which filmmakers, actors and directors come together to create, shoot and edit an entertaining short film within 24 hours. The films are then screened on Thursday.

One of BYU’s own, advertising professor Kevin Kelly, will also be featured at the festival in the special screening of “The Kelly Film Family.”

This year, the festival will feature the new Family Film Competition, which includes “homemade” films, less than five minutes each. Kelly’s family film will help promote the new category.

“I have nine kids and they are all filmmakers, either in school or professionally, so we are compiling the short films we made to encourage families to make films,” Kelly said. “You will either love each other or hate each other doing it, but you’ll certainly create good memories.”

Although it is called the LDS Film Festival, only about 20 percent of the films are actually LDS films. The majority aren’t even LDS-themed, according to Goodman.

A few of the highlights to look out for will be the feature film “Wayward,” the modern story of the prodigal son; “The Left Field: Live at the Wagner,” a movie about stand-up clean comedy of some BYU alumni; and the Short Film Competition, which features nine films with themes as varied as the world’s oldest intern to a close-quartered bed and breakfast in the San Francisco Bay.

Tickets for all events are available at 801-225-ARTS, online at scera.org or at the door. More information can also be found at ldsfilmfestival.org.

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