The Sun Valley Film Festival is still evolving, after its third incarnation, March 16-20, and the most intriguing question is, will the state of Idaho become a more intimate, accessible festival environment for those who have previously attended South by Southwest in Austin, Texas.
For the fifty or so films, unspooled at the historic ski resort alongside Idaho's picturesque Sawtooth Mountains, was preceded by a burgeoning Family of Women Film Festival, March 7-10. And after skiing, hiking and taking in films at Sun Valley, one need only wait a couple days to take in the Tree Fort Music Festival, March 20-23 in downtown Boise. The capital city plays host, astoundingly, to 350 different music acts. But similar to SXSW, there are other components, including its own Treefort Film Fest, Storyfort (literary), Hackfort (tech), and events pertaining to comedy, skating and yoga.
Back in Sun Valley, the resort itself, as well as Ketchum, a pleasing twenty-minute walk, and Hailey, ten miles down the road, provided the venues for films and programs. A Screenwriters Lab was hosted by Academy Award® nominees Melisa Wallack and Craig Borten, screenwriters of Dallas Buyers Club. SVFF and Boise State University co-presented Coffee Talks and among those presenting were producers Ron Yerxa (Nebraska, Election, Cold Mountain) and Jim Burke (The Descendants, Cedar Rapids, The Savages).
As for the film slate at SVFF, the programming is eclectic and one has a sense that its identity is open to change. This year, in addition to works-in-progress, the National Geographic Channel shared upcoming hours, notably Miracle on the Hudson, a gripping account of the emergency landing of the US Airways jet on that river, and the phenomenal rescue of all on board. It is told through the eyes of certain passengers, a flight controller, flight attendant and the co-pilot, who recalled renowned Captain Sullenberger's ironic but controlled statement prior to impact with the water was, "Any other ideas?"
While foreign film programming certainly could be broadened at SVFF, there was much pleasure to be had in viewing Tu Seras Un Homme (You'll Be a Man) from France. Benoit Cohen's beautifully shot and carefully crafted story tells of the relationship between a ten-year-old boy, neglected by his parents for different reasons, and the outrageous, fun-loving but slightly irresponsible twenty year old boy-man who comes to take care of him.
Winning the Audience Award at SVFF was Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon, comedic star Mike Myers's acknowledged "love letter" documentary for manager Gordon, whose self-effacing and calm demeanor is in stark contrast to his previously wild show biz life. The film reveals, among other utterly insane stories, how Gordon first arrived in Hollywood with LSD for sale and none other than Jimi Hendrix, upon meeting him at the Landmark Hotel, where Janis Joplin was staying, declared, "You're Jewish? You should be a manager." Gordon went on to manage everyone from Alice Cooper to Michael Douglas and create the world of celebrity chefs.
Thus, the snow-dusted beauty of Idaho can boast of not only natural splendor outdoors, but in the month of March, a morphing and eclectic variety of creative artists at various statewide locations, indoors.