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Sundance Kids takes flight with first documentary for young movie-goers

Published January 23, 2016 3:42 pm
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The Sundance Kids program is back for a third year, and in 2016 it has matured, offering its first documentary to young moviegoers.

"The Eagle Huntress," recommended for ages 12 and older, is the true story of Aisholpan Nurgaiv, a 13-year-old nomadic Mongolian girl who battles to become the first female to hunt with a golden eagle in 2,000 years.

"We are absolutely ready for it," said Patrick Hubley, artistic director for the Utah Film Center, which organizes the youth section of the annual Sundance Film Festival, which kicks off Thursday, Jan. 21.

"We have been showing documentaries as part of our [Utah Film Center] Tumbleweeds program and kids really react positively to films about peers their same age," he said.

Utah filmmaker Geralyn White Dreyfous is the executive producer of "The Eagle Huntress," and her company, Impact Partners, helped fund the project.

Sundance Kids was launched in 2014 — and named after festival founder and original "Sundance Kid" Robert Redford — as a way to attract a new generation to independent film. During its inaugural year, the program offered two films, including a foreign language entry. Last year, it expanded to three films, the same number for 2016.

Hubley said from the beginning Sundance Kids has been popular, with most screenings selling out. "Attendance is really strong and the program is well-supported," he said.

In addition to "The Eagle Huntress," this year's program includes "Little Gangster," a film from the Netherlands recommended for those 10 and older; and "Snowtime!," an animated film out of Canada for those 5 and older.

"Little Gangster" follows Rik Boskamp, who wants a life where he's not constantly bullied. When he and his father move, the people in their new town think his dad is a Mafia boss, and everybody treats them with respect — until a bully from Rikkie's past turns up. Filmed in Dutch with English subtitles; headphones with a reader are available for young children.

In "Snowtime!," the kids in a small village have a massive snowball fight to amuse themselves during their winter break from school. But what starts out as youthful fun deteriorates into a conflict, and the children learn the importance of love and friendship.

In addition to these movies, there are several films in the regular Sundance programs that would be appropriate for junior-high- and high-school-age children to see, according to the Utah Film Commission.

"A mix of documentaries and narrative films, these films provide an excellent opportunity for young people to see things from a new perspective," film commissioner Virginia Pearce said in a news release.

The commission's list:

"Life, Animated" (U.S. Documentary) • An autistic boy who could not speak for years slowly emerges from his isolation by immersing himself in Disney animated movies and begins to reconnect with the world in this emotional coming-of-age story.

"How to Let Go of the World (and Love all the Things Climate Can't Change)" (U.S. Documentary) • Do we have a chance to stop the most destructive consequences of climate change? Academy Award-nominated director Josh Fox travels to 12 countries on six continents to explore what must go — and all the things that climate can't change.

"Notes on Blindness" (New Frontier) • After losing his sight, John Hull knew that not understanding blindness would destroy him. In 1983, he began to keep an audio diary. His recordings represent a unique testimony and document his discovery of "a world beyond sight."

"Sonita" (World Cinema Documentary) • The story of an Afghan teen who used rap to escape a forced marriage, with a Utah twist. An intimate portrait of creativity and womanhood, "Sonita" highlights a rarely seen society through the lens of an artist who is defining the next generation.

"The Fits" (NEXT) • An 11-year-old tomboy trains as a boxer with her brother in Cincinnati's West End but becomes fascinated by the dance drill team that also practices there. Drawn to their strength and confidence, Toni eventually joins the group, but her desire for acceptance becomes complicated.

kathys@sltrib.com —

How to be a Sundance Kid

Organizers of the Sundance Film Festival offer a program specifically for young moviegoers.

The Eagle Huntress • For ages 12 and over. Screens Sunday, Jan. 24, 11:30 a.m., Prospector Square Theatre, Park City; Sunday, Jan. 24, 6 p.m., Salt Lake City Library Theatre, Salt Lake City; and Saturday, Jan. 30, 3:30 p.m., Redstone Cinema 1, Park City.

Little Gangster • Recommended for ages 10 and over. Screens Saturday, Jan. 23, 3 p.m., Salt Lake City Library Theatre, Salt Lake City; Sunday, Jan. 24, 12:30 p.m., Redstone Cinema 1, Park City; and Saturday, Jan. 30, 12:30 p.m., Redstone Cinema 1, Park City.

Snowtime! • Recommended for ages 5 and over. Screens Saturday, Jan. 23, noon, Salt Lake City Library Theatre, Salt Lake City; Sunday, Jan. 24, 3:30 p.m., Redstone Cinema 1, Park City; and Saturday, Jan. 30, 1 p.m., Redstone Cinema 2, Park City.

Details • www.sundance.org/festivals/sundance-film-festival/program

The 2016 Sundance Film Festival.

Where • Park City and venues in Salt Lake City, Ogden and the Sundance resort

When • Jan. 21-31

Tickets • $20 per screening. Box offices are in the Gateway Center, 136 Heber Ave., Park City, and in Trolley Square, 600 East and 600 South, Salt Lake City.

Wait-list information • Register at ewaitlist.sundance.org and download the app to your smartphone or tablet; waitlist tickets are $20, cash only.

Program guide • sundance.org/festivals/sundance-film-festival

All the news • Keep up with the Salt Lake Tribune's full Sundance coverage at sltrib.com/entertainment/sundance






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