When you think of independent film festivals, the first one that comes to mind is probably the Sundance Film Festival. It makes sense; Sundance is one of the biggest and most well-known film festivals in the United States, if not the world. However, there’s another film festival that’s starting to make waves, in a good way. And it’s right here in Idaho.
The Sun Valley Film Festival is still in its infancy. The festival began in 2012, and it just completed its fourth year at the beginning of March 2015. It might not be the biggest film festival, but it’s still growing. Each year seems to have one-upped the year before. Originally a four-day event, this year the festival extended to five days to make room, and time, for everything that was happening.
And the stars keep coming. In 2013, Jodie Foster was a special guest at the Sun Valley Film Festival, and this year a legend of the film industry attended. Clint Eastwood accepted an honor from the Sun Valley Film Festival, as they kicked off their inaugural Lifetime Vision Award. The Coffee Talks panel invites movie stars, like Bill Paxton and Bruce Dern this year, to have an informal discussion, and a kind of question and answer session, with audience members. It provides a glimpse behind the scenes and sheds some light on the art of film.
That’s what really sets the Sun Valley Film Festival apart from other festivals. It provides a virtually unprecedented view behind the curtain. There are panels, events, and competitions devoted entirely to providing an insider look at the independent film industry. Not only does this provide invaluable information to aspiring independent filmmakers, but it also lets the audience experience a taste of the inner workings of film.
Perhaps that is why the Sun Valley Film Festival is gaining so much attention and respect. While other festivals, such as the Sundance Film Festival, draw big names and high-profile talent, there’s still a level of separation. In Sun Valley, they’ve invited special guests, and they provide a unique forum and opportunity that isn’t readily available anywhere else. Here, at the Sun Valley Film Festival, you are really able to interact with the actors, and Oscar-nominated screenwriters and directors. Because of this, the entire festival has a very intimate feel. It’s almost like you can take a step into the other side of the silver screen, and see just how these filmmakers, writers, directors, producers, and actors work. But more than that, they’ll actually help you and answer questions. It’s a virtually unprecedented experience, and it’s that unique experience that really makes the Sun Valley Film Festival stand out.
Many of the panels and events at the Sun Valley Film Festival are built around the idea of intimacy. These industry professionals aren’t here on a pedestal. They’re here to talk to you and to help out other independent filmmakers. It’s informal and inviting. There are even contests to get one-on-one time with screenwriters, and there’s also a work-in-progress forum.
The Sun Valley Film Festival works to pull away the barriers from film. The festival celebrates the independent film. Because that’s really what a festival is, a celebration. There are awards and prizes here, including one that provides a stipend to help an independent filmmaker shoot their film here in Idaho. This festival celebrates the culture of Idaho through film, and it provides opportunities to dive right in and learn about filmmaking from the people that are actually doing it. They even encourage Idaho students to participate by providing several contests and awards tailored exclusively toward Idaho middle and high school students. The Sun Valley Film Festival provides exceptional opportunities for any independent filmmaker, whether they are young students, learning, or established.
Idaho is a state that’s filled with beauty. And it’s not just the natural beauty of the mountains, forests, valleys, and rivers. It’s filled with the beauty of art, and the daring pioneers that are the independent filmmakers. Idaho boasts an incredibly diverse culture and history, and the Sun Valley Film Festival embraces that diversity and history. It also shows that you don’t have to be a big city like Hollywood to celebrate the art and history of film. Even a small town hidden in the Sawtooth Mountains can honor the art of film, and bring big celebrities to the beautiful state of Idaho.