The Hollywood film industry has long used Utah for stunning movie backdrops. Think of the classic Southern Utah desert scenes in the opening of the third Indiana Jones installment or the wide open Utah roads where Thelma and Louise tried to escape the law.  Remember the Utah County streets that Kevin Bacon dances all over in Footloose or the music ringing through the halls of Salt Lake City's East High School in High School Musical? But wait, these are all just locations used for Hollywood blockbusters. In the independent film scene, Utah has a very different face.  

Utah is not just the host to film locations or to one of the most recognized film festivals in the world. It is also the place local talent calls home. The world stage and screens at this year's Sundance Film Festival will include the faces of people you might have seen on a Salt Lake or Park City street.   

Among the anticipated national and international films are these local flicks featuring local talent that should not be missed.  


Shannon Hale, author of Austenland

1. Salt Lake City filmmaker Jerusha Hess introduces Austenland, a film adaptation of Daybreak resident and author Shannon Hale's book. The story follows a group of modern Austenites in their thirties who immerse themselves in the victorian world of Jane Austen while on vacation.  Hess and Hale's comedic writing rivals Austen's in depicting the ups and downs of human relationships.  

Screenings

Jan. 18, 12:15 p.m.
Eccles Theatre, Park City

Jan. 19 at 8:30 a.m.
Egyptian Theatre, Park City

Jan. 21 at 6:30 p.m.
Peery's Egyptian Theater, Ogden

Jan. 22, 8:30 p.m.
The MARC, Park City

Jan. 24, 12 p.m.
Egyptian Theatre, Park City

Jan. 26, 3:30 p.m.
Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, SLC


Austenland, photo Giles Keyte

2. Director Lucy Walker also presents a local story through her documentary, The Crash Reel.  The film follows snowboarder Kevin Pearce's recovery from a traumatic brain injury that occurred while training in Park City in 2009.  This intimate story depicts the intense process of physical and mental recovery Pearce experienced and the high stakes of extreme-action sports.

Screenings

Jan. 18, 6:30 p.m.
Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, SLC

Jan. 18, 9:30 p.m.
Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, SLC

Jan. 19, 2:30 p.m.
The MARC, Park City

Jan. 21, 9 a.m.
Yarrow Hotel Theatre, Park City

Jan. 22. 9 p.m.
Salt Lake City Library Theatre, SLC

Jan. 25, 6:30 p.m.
Peery's Egyptian Theater, Ogden

Jan. 26, 5:15 p.m.
The MARC, Park City


The Crash Reel, photo by Adam Moran

The Sundance Film Festival begins Thursday.  Check the festival's website for ticket information.