Sun Valley Film Festival Review - The Magic of Hollywood

In the midst of modern day, Sun Valley, Idaho still has a sense of old Hollywood nostalgia from the Historic Sun Valley Lodge to the vintage Liberty Theatre. Sun Valley used to be the stomping grounds of Hollywood’s elite from the Hemingway’s, the Kennedy’s, and even tinsel town’s very own, Marilyn Monroe. Today Sun Valley is still frequented by many business execs, celebrities, professional athletes, and the like. The presence of old Hollywood charm was brought back to Idaho during the second annual Sun Valley Film Festival.

Mariel Hemingway and Elizabeth Fraley

Directors, producers, talent, and media from all over the nation arrived to Idaho to promote films, attend events, and network. The festival showcased over 30 films and documentaries, which were shown at local venues including Magic Lantern Cinemas and NexStage Theatre both in Ketchum, Idaho. Other venues for the film festival included the Sun Valley Opera House in Sun Valley, Idaho and the Liberty Theatre in Hailey, Idaho. The Sun Valley Lodge was also hot spot during the festival with many celebrity guests. The Sun Valley Film Festival’s Headquarters also featured local Idaho wine and hor d’ oeuvres for pass holders and was conveniently located at 251 North Washington Avenue in Ketchum. With a variety of events and a multitude of quality films, the Sun Valley Film Festival was a pleasant success.

Sun Valley Film Festival Headquarters

At the Jodie Foster Coffee Talk, I had the pleasure ofmeeting representative Christopher Albert, VPof Global Communications from National Geographic along with Mayu Mishina, Senior writer and Publications Managerof The African Wildlife Foundation. The two were present to launch a campaign known as the Wild to Inspire short film competition. The goal of this competition was to inspirit participation of both local Idaho filmmakers and filmmakers from across the country. The winner of the short film competition will receive an all expense trip to the Sun Valley Film Festival in 2014 and a trip to Tanzania, Africa. Some of the popular films that National Geographic brought to the Sun Valley Film Festival included Nat Geo’s The Wild West and Kingdom of the Oceans. Although National Geographic and The African Wildlife Foundation made their presence at the Sun Valley Film Festival, many celebrities were present at the festival events.


Zions Bank, was a sponsor at this year’s festival and hosted the Hollywood Heritage event at the Sun Valley Lodge. During the event, I caught up with actor Will McCormack. Will informed me that he has been involved in several Hollywood projects including 2003’s Christmas classic Elf opposite Will Ferrell. McCormack has also starred in the 2012 movie Celeste & Jesse with the talented, Roshida Jones. Will has been involved in television shows such as CSI and The Office. At the Sun Valley Film Festival, Will McCormack hosted the Screen Writers Lab where he answered questions and gave insight to both filmmakers across the country and to local Idaho filmmakers. Will said that he was glad to be a part of the Sun Valley Film Festival and hopes to continue his involvement with Idaho filmmakers through Sun Valley Film Festival in the future. Although Will McCormack was in attendance other A-listers included featured celebrity guest, Jodie Foster.

Zions Bank Hollywood Heritage Event with Will McCormack

One of the most highly anticipated guests of the festival was Jodie Foster. During our interview, Jodie said that she has been coming to Idaho for years to escape the madness of Los Angeles. Jodie loves Sun Valley because it is a sanctuary of pristine beauty. It is Foster’s Shangri la. Jodie said her career is more focused on directing where a number of years ago she was solely acting, in such film hits as 1991’s Silence of the Lambs and 2002’s Panic Room. Foster is empowered by her role as a director and hopes it will inspire other women to join the ranks of the industry’s movers and shakers. During the coffee talk, Jodie also touched on her childhood. Foster began acting at age 3 and feels as though she lost a part of her childhood but is glad to be involved with what she loves, filmmaking. Foster graciously answered questions from fans, locals, filmmakers, and especially enjoyed answering children’s questions about filmmaking. Although Foster was present at the festival, both Barbara Kopple and Mariel Hemingway were also honored guests.

Coffee Talk with Jodie Foster

I spoke with New York based director Barbara Kopple, who was asked to direct and orchestrate the documentary Running From Crazy, which was filmed in Ketchum, Idaho. Koppel has directed and produced over 20 documentaries and is especially famous for documentaries, which include Shut Up & Sing (2006), Havoc (2005), Harlan County USA (1976) and American Dream (1990). Oprah Winfrey served as the executive producer of the documentary along with Erica Forstadt and Lisa Erspamer.  As I interviewed Kopple, said she felt as though she was a member of the Idaho community during filming since everyone she came across was so cordial. Koppel commented on the air quality and the beautiful presence of Idaho and the fact it was a great escape from her life in the “Big Apple”. Kopple mentioned that she would like to visit Sun Valley in the future and hopes to be a part of the Sun Valley Film Festival in 2014.

Screening of Running From Crazy

The documentary, Running From Crazy helps bring awareness not only to the legacy of the Hemingway family, but also sheds light on the need for public awareness of mental illness and suicide. The documentary, Running From Crazy, stars Idaho’s very own Mariel Hemmingway, which I had the pleasure of meeting at the House of Luxury event and Creative Coalition event at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah this past January.

Mariel Hemingway is granddaughter to the late, Nobel Prize winning writer, Ernest Hemingway. Mariel was glad to be a part of filming in Idaho as it is representative of her roots and upbringing, along with the trials and tribulations her family when faced with fame and mental illness. Mariel’s sister, Muffet Hemingway, a current resident of Sun Valley, also stars in the film. Video footage from the 80’s of Mariel’s father, the late Jack Hemingway, along with her late mother Byra Whittlesey is also present in the documentary. The late Margaux Hemingway’s presence in the documentary adds a glamorous yet turbulent, look into the life of fame and its impacts on the Hemingway family. The Hemingway legacy will forever be apart of Idaho culture.

Sun Valley Film Festival 2013

After interviewing director of the Sun Valley Film Festival, Candice Pate, I learned more about the vision for the festival in 2014. Pate said “The attendance from last year to this year has doubled. I am so pleased with the results. Next year in 2014, the festival will be March 13-16th. The Sun Valley Film Festival is putting Idaho on the map and giving it the notoriety that it so willingly deserves. Be sure to attend the third annual Sun Valley Film Festival next year in Sun Valley, Idaho to support local Idaho filmmakers and businesses. For more information visit the Sun Valley Film Festival website. See you next year at Idaho’s very own, Sun Valley Film Festival.

 Photos from Gene Chang and Sun Valley Film Festival 


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