Utah Valley Event Calendar 

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The Annual LDS Film Fest…

Mar. 4 - Mar. 7

The LDS Film Festival enjoys strong support from thousands of visitors each year and from the LDS and local filmmaking community. Each year, the festival highlights a wide variety of different films and filmmakers. Besides the high quality of the programming, attendees also enjoy the vibrant festival atmosphere with dozens of filmmakers sharing their experience in a casual and friendly setting. In its first ten years, the LDS Film Festival has screened approximately 200 feature films and special screenings, 300 short films, and 400 24-hour marathon films, with a total attendance of close to 43,000 visitors.  "We couldn't be happier with the lineup of films this year," says festival director Christian Vuissa, who started the LDS Film Festival in 2001, while still a film student at Brigham Young University. "With Freetown and The Cokeville Miracle we have the perfect bookends for the most exciting year in our history." Both films will be released theatrically later this year and have their premiere at the LDS Film Festival. African Missionary Story of Survival Freetown tells the true story of a group of Liberian missionaries who attempt to flee the widespread violence in their country and escape to Freetown in Sierra Leone. "When I first announced Freetown last year at the LDS Film Festival, I had no idea of the powerful experiences that this film would provide. I'm thrilled to now have audiences share in this significant journey," says director Garrett Batty. Freetown was produced by Adam Abel (Saints and Soldiers, Forever Strong) and entirely filmed on location in Africa. The film will be released in theaters on April 8, 2015, and is distributed by Purdie Distribution, who also distributed The Saratov Approach and Meet the Mormons. "Freetown is an important and brave film. The type of film that should be seen by everyone," says Brandon Purdie, head of Purdie Distribution. Miracle of Wyoming Elementary School Bombing The Cokeville Miracle also retells a gritty true story, set in 1986 Cokeville, Wyoming, where a mad man and his wife took over the elementary school and held everyone hostage with guns and a bomb. Two hours later, the bomb went off with over one hundred children and teachers within feet of the explosion, but only two deaths associated with the incident occurred: the two intruders.  The Cokeville Miracle was picked up for distribution by Excel Entertainment and will be released in theaters in June. "The film is a testament to the power of prayer and God's awareness of our lives. Fans of 17 Miracles and Ephraim's Rescue will find the same inspiration and emotional connection to this movie, while being able to share it beyond their circle of LDS friends due to its modern sensibilities," says Arthur VanWagenen, director of Excel Entertainment.  After two successful pioneer movies, T.C. Christensen is excited to delve into a more contemporary story. "If you are sick to death of my pioneer films, here's something you can come to and I promise, you will not see one handcart or one ugly cow," he jokes. LDS Film Festival Perfect Venue for Premieres Both Batty and Christensen have shown their previous films at the LDS Film Festival. "I am excited and honored to have the LDS Film Festival be our first screening and to show it on closing night," says Christensen. "As both a filmmaker and an audience member, I look forward to the variety of stories showcased at the LDS Film Festival each year," adds Batty.  Festival director Vuissa holds both filmmakers in high regard. "T.C. and Garrett have emerged as two of the finest filmmakers around. They are currently defining the LDS film genre and produce deeply inspiring films for our audience." Tickets for both Freetown and The Cokeville Miracle can be purchased directly at the Scera Center for the Arts in Orem, Utah, on their website or by phone at 801-225-ARTS. Orson Scott Card, Studio C, and Other Highlights Other highlights of the LDS Film Festival include a series of presentations titled From Book to Screen with presentations by Orson Scott Card (Ender's Game), Jerusha Hess (Austenland) and other writers and filmmakers on Friday, March 6.  The cast of BYUtv's comedy show Studio C talks exclusively about their new season of sketches on Saturday, March 7. Several short film programs showcase films by young LDS Filmmakers, including the Academy Award nominated short documentary White Earth by J. Christian Jensen. Another staple event of the LDS Film Festival is the 24-Hour Filmmaking Marathon, which takes place a week prior to the festival. Small groups receive a theme and dialogue line and then write, shoot, and edit a film within 24 hours. All films will be shown during the festival, and the winning films receive cash awards. The 24-Hour Filmmaking Marathon has launched several careers. Previous winners include Jared and Jerusha Hess (Napoleon Dynamite) and this year's opening night film director Garrett Batty, who now is one of the most prominent flag bearers of LDS filmmaking. Kick off this year is on Friday, February 20, at 10AM at the Scera Center for the Arts in Orem. Everyone is welcome to participate. For more information on the 24-Hour Filmmaking Marathon, click below:  The entire festival program will be revealed by February 18 on the festival's website.  The LDS Film Festival is independently organized and not affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  

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