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Meet filmmakers telling next-gen stories at annual Davey Foundation showcase

Published May 10, 2017 9:41 am

Film • New cinematic voices receive premiere screenings through Davey Foundation.
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Since Curtis Whitear moved to New York City over a year ago, the Utah-trained filmmaker says he was continually intrigued by the conversations about the election he fell into with Uber drivers.

He submitted an idea for a film of interviews with working-class drivers to the David Ross Fetzer Foundation for Emerging Artists, which launched its first documentary grant to tell stories from the country's post-election political divide.

Selected in a national competition, Whitear earned the Salt Lake City foundation's $2,500 grant, which he used to film "Drivers & Demagogues: Post-election Uber Rides" during President Trump's first 100 days in office. Most of the interviews took place on New York City streets, while a handful were filmed during the Women's March in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21.

In the interviews, Whitear learned that many drivers, including those who are immigrants, believed in the idea of Trump as a self-made businessman. "There is something very symbolic about him that seems to be connecting with certain people," Whitear says. "Hardly anyone was as concerned about Trump as the people from my social circle, essentially."

"Drivers & Demagogues" will debut on Wednesday at Salt Lake City's Tower Theatre, one of five films to be screened at the annual Davey Foundation Film Showcase. It's part of ongoing efforts to support emerging filmmakers and playwrights in honor of David Fetzer, a 30-year-old Salt Lake actor and writer, who died suddenly in December 2012.

The foundation is thought to be one of only two grant funding sources in the country for developing short films. New this year is the documentary grant, which foundation founder Betsy Ross considers a call to action at a time when federal funding of the arts is threatened.

One of the foundation's aims is to invite storytellers into a creative community as emerging filmmakers are coached throughout their project. That'salso why the screenings are accompanied by a Film Forum panel, where grant winners give and receive advice. This year's panel, focused on taking steps toward filming a first feature, is anchored by guest filmmaker Bernardo Britto, recipient of the 2014 Sundance Short Film Jury Prize for "Yearbook." (See box for details.)

The foundation was the brainchild of Ross, Fetzer's mother, who created it along with her son's family of creative collaborators. In addition to the annual showcase, the foundation teams with Plan-B Theatre and Salt Lake Acting Company, two of the companies where Fetzer regularly acted, to workshop and produce new plays.

In a mark of its growth, this year the foundation hired Ariana Broumas Farber, a local actor and former captain in the U.S. Marines, who will assume the role of executive director.

"To toot our horn a little bit, the fact that we have made it to the beginning of year five is a big deal," Ross says. "It has been amazing, especially as I watch the young men and women that we've been able to help in their careers. To see what amazing strides they've made has been beyond my dreams."


facebook.com/ellen.weist —

David Ross Fetzer Foundation for Emerging Artists

The foundation's fourth annual Davey Foundation Film Showcase will screen short films by the foundation's 2016 grantees.

When • Wednesday, May 10, 7-10 p.m.; silent auction and social hour, 7-8 p.m.; screenings begin at 8 p.m.

Where • Tower Theatre, 876 E 900 South, Salt Lake City

Tickets • $15 ($5 students), available at thedaveyfoundation.org or at the door

Also • The public is invited to a free Filmmakers Forum panel at 3-4 p.m. Wednesday at Avrec Art House, 320 S. 300 East, Suite 201. Bernardo Britto, recipient of the 2014 Sundance Short Film Jury Prize for "Yearbook," will anchor the panel, focusing on taking steps toward filming your first feature.

Info • thedaveyfoundation.org —

Davey Foundation Film Showcase screenings

Vika Evdokimenko's "The Door" • A young Syrian boy struggles to find safety and privacy as he makes his way alone in a French refugee camp.

Laura Moss' "Fry Day" • The film, set on Jan. 24, 1989, focuses on what happens outside the Florida prison where Ted Bundy was executed. The film was selected for screenings at this year's SXSW and Tribeca film festivals.

Jackson K. Segars' "Kimchi" • An elderly Korean man reflects on his life with his granddaughter's Japanese-American boyfriend, while his family argues about his medical care.

Davey Morrison Dillard's "Pug & Wolf" • The Utah grant recipient's short is described as a "comical, surrealist story of an unlikely 'romance.' "

Curtis Whitear's "Drivers & Demagogues: Post-election Uber Rides" • The foundation's first documentary grant focuses on a randomized cross-section of New York City Uber drivers after the U.S. presidential election.






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