By Jonathan Decker (Family therapist, film critic)
For 16 years the LDS Film Festival has been a showcase for uplifting, powerful cinema from both Latter-day Saint filmmakers and others with shared values. There’s a truly phenomenal lineup for this year’s festival (March 1-4 at the Scera Theater in Orem) including a Studio C documentary, a film in which Donny Osmond plays a terrorist, a 24-hour filmmaking festival, forums with filmmakers T.C. Christensen and Christian Vuissa, a Women in Film panel, a follow up to the child-slavery-rescuing The Abolitionists, and plenty of adventures, comedies, dramas, love stories, fantasy-adventures, and more to bask in. Here’s a quick guide. For more information visit ldsfilmfestival.org.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 1
Opening night is going to feature live music by Sidecar Judy as part of the mix and mingle between attendees, filmmakers, and actors. The opening night film will be Love Everlasting, an uplifting tale of a young man’s love for his mother as well as a troubled young woman he falls for. Note that this film appears to have a non-graphic, implied love scene between a married couple.
THURSDAY MARCH 2
Thursday the festival kicks into high gear with the 24 hour Filmmaking Marathon, in which local filmmakers have just one day to create a short film from scratch and premiere it at the festival. Previous winners have included the hilarious Warm Case, a parody of TV crime-solving shows by Telekinesis Entertainment.
Thursday also features numerous short films in special screenings and competitions. One not to miss is Hidden in the Heartland: The Great Earthquake, director Kels Goodman’s continuing series exploring archaeological evidence that the events of The Book of Mormon actually took place in areas that are now the United States.
Other screenings include Peace Officer is a hard-hitting documentary about a former Utah sheriff investigating officer-involved shootings, including a fatal incident with his son-in-law.
Hello, I Love You is about a girl roped unwittingly into a reality show in which a man proposes to almost any woman he meets.
Rounding out the day is CTU: Provo, an action-comedy in which Donny Osmond plays a villain funding terrorism in Utah, with two Jack Bauer fanboys out to save the day. Full disclosure: I am the star of this flick, and I think you’ll love it. Director Alan Seawright and I are hosting a cast panel after the show. [More movies after the jump]
FRIDAY MARCH 3
Friday sees director (and festival president) Christian Vuissa hosting a forum on LDS film, recent developments, where it’s been, and where it’s headed. Also kicking off the day is Recommended Daily Amount, in which one man eliminates caffeine and reduces sugar to the recommended amount for 30 days to see what it does emotionally, mentally, and physically with the help of experts from the University of Utah and scientists from Brigham Young University.