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Guest Blog: José talks SLFS and Queer Cinema

José (he/they/them) identifies as a queer, Mexican, immigrant, educator, and film-buff. They currently serve as the Assistant Director for Community Engagement at the Thayne Center, Salt Lake Community College, where they help connect students to the many opportunities for service and engagement through community partners, and also oversee basic needs programs like the Bruin Pantry. In their free time, José can be found ingesting copious amounts of television, throwing a dinner party for their family and friends, traveling, camping, and of course catching the latest indie flick at the Broadway. 


“Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue”

“Growing up as an undocumented, queer, brown kid in Utah has not always been rainbows and butterflies. Media representations, especially in movies, of my life experiences have been hard to come by especially when I was coming out of the closet as an undergrad at the University of Utah. I would fill the evenings in my dorm room watching queer movies I had inconspicuously rented from the Tower Theater—ok, now I’m dating myself!

This is why Salt Lake Film Society has always had such a special place in my heart; it unlocked stories of what it meant to be queer, plus it gave me a community where I could feel safe to be myself and talk about the films I love. But it would be hard to list all the impactful queer films I’ve seen with SLFS, so I’ll just choose “something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue”.

a still from the queer cinema film played at SLFS, Brokeback Mountain
Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal in the queer cinema classic, BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN

In terms of something old, in January 2006 after having wrapped up my first semester of college, I started hearing about a “controversial” film that some theaters in Salt Lake City were refusing to show. BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN (2005, dir. Ang Lee) was a pre-marriage equality film with two Hollywood stars (Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal) really going at it rough and raw—all puns intended. This immediately piqued my interest, not to mention that SLFS was proudly showing the film in their theaters.

Although I was horrified by the brutal ending which depicted a violent hate crime ultimately leading to the protagonist’s death, this was one of the first times I had seen same-sex love and sex on a big screen.  From then on, I wanted more stories that depicted something closer to my lived experiences.

A new film I look forward to experiencing again on the big screen is ROTTING IN THE SUN (2023, dir. Sebastian Silva). During its Sundance premiere which I saw at the Broadway, this film’s penis and gay sex filled scenes were all the buzz. Well, it did not disappoint! Be ready to see every kind of penis under the sun in the first 30 minutes, before making a sharp left and being delivered into a thrilling story about the cover up of an accidental murder.

Playing a frenzied domestic worker, Catalina Saavedra thrusts this film forward— I could not help but to think of my mom who has worked various housekeeping jobs in the city— and provides the perfect foil to the nihilistic, suicidal protagonist. Queer or hetero, young and old, everyone who has seen the film has been captured by its whacky charm (and hopefully SLFS is able to pick it up when it comes out in September!).

For something borrowed (again from Sundance) and something blue, I want to celebrate how far the diversity of lived experiences has come in queer cinema. TANGERINE (2015, dir. Sean Baker) and MOONLIGHT (2016, dir. Barry Jenkins) each touched my heart in different ways. TANGERINE tells a story of true friendship through the eyes of two transgendered Black and Brown sex workers in the streets of L.A. Not only was this movie completely filmed on the streets with iPhones, but Sean Baker has gone on to make extraordinary, award-nominated, indie films about people living on the edge, including THE FLORIDA PROJECT and RED ROCKET.

a still from the queer cinema movie Moonlight
Trevante Rhodes and André Holland in the Oscar-winning MOONLIGHT

With melodic, blue delivery, MOONLIGHT takes us through different stages of the protagonist’s life as he is met with violence for being his authentic self. The liberation he experiences through vulnerability against a hyper-masculine, homophobic society is a lesson that I continue to enact in different ways in my own life.

Queer cinema has come a very long way from the cliché coming of age stories with cisgender, white, male protagonists having oh so many will-they-won’t-they moments. Salt Lake Film Society creates a space and community for folx like me to feel seen and heard. The exploration of gender, sexuality, and identity through film is one with growing voices and perspectives, and I’m excited to keep coming back to the big screen as we continue to celebrate queer, trans, BiPoC independent stories for queers to come!”


Supporting and Showcasing Queer Cinema – SLFS

At Salt Lake Film Society, we are proud to exhibit a wide variety of queer cinema and stories to our Salt Lake City community, both during Pride month, and during all the other months too.

If you value these kinds of stories, and your community’s access to them, please consider supporting us! All donations received before July 15th will be matched through a generous offer from a local family foundation. Donate or join the Red Carpet Club during this matching period and see your support of SLFS and queer cinema doubled during this matching period!

To see a list of our upcoming films and events, click here.
To join our Red Carpet Club, or to learn more about RCC levels, discounts, and benefits, click here.


SLFS: Putting Classic Movies Back In Theaters

Like any engaging form of art, film is a medium that is often defined and disseminated through its most classic works. Whether defining the genre of the time and influencing works of the future, or achieving renown only in hindsight after being popularized by the next generation, “classic” movies have always existed as vital storytelling pieces for everything from entire countries, to entire generations.

At Salt Lake Film Society, repertory films and classic movies are a crucial part of our programming repertoire. While there are incredible independent films being released all the time (many of which we are lucky enough to show at the Broadway), for many people, classic movies are the driving force behind their love of film and the impactful connection they have with it. And what better way to re-experience the magic of these classics than how they were intended: on the big screen?

Keep reading to learn why seeing a classic movie on the big screen matters (or click here to view our Summer Showdown schedule of classic movies at the Broadway this summer!). And don’t forget; until July 15th, all donations will be matched through a generous offer from a local family foundation. So if you value access to independent film and things like seeing classic movies on the big screen, this is the perfect time to show us your support! Click here to see our progress so far, and make your own contribution!

What Exactly is a Classic Movie?

While there is no official definition, it’s not exactly easy to qualify what is considered a classic. It could be an Oscar-laden adventure trilogy integral to pop-culture, or a dated love story full of big-name stars during their younger years, or even a low-budget horror flick that achieves “cult” status in the modern Internet age. 

a picture of Jeff Bridges, Steve Buscemi, and John Goodman in the classic movie The Big Lebowski
Jeff Bridges, Steve Buscemi, and John Goodman in the The Big Lebowski, part of the 2023 Summer Showdown lineup

The definition of a “classic” movie is often defined less by its content or fame and more by its staying power through the years, both in our minds and our culture. It’s the iconic stories, whose themes and outcomes still feel relevant even upwards of 70 years after a film’s release. It’s the iconic performances from Hollywood legends or unknown actors announcing their skill to the world. It’s the extremes, both the extremely good and the extremely bad, that still get parodied on sketch shows and quoted between colleagues.

There is no reliable formula for making a classic movie, especially when it comes to cult classics, as they seem to become popular despite themselves, which makes their nostalgic success even more unpredictable. Even the very nature of a classic means that people won’t definitively know if it qualifies as a classic until years later, and like with any art form, ambiguity and personal taste play a big part. Similarly to how the Supreme Court defined pornography in 1964, it’s hard to describe and specifically define, but many people know it when they see it.

Capturing the Magic of Classic Movies, In Theaters

However, like any classic in any other artistic medium, watching a classic movie nowand trying to “recapture” the authentic magic and the power it brought to both initial and later audiences isn’t so easy. For example, while many of us know works of art from the Renaissance era, most of us have only seen a photo of the Mona Lisa painting or the Michaelangelo statue of David, and only in a digital era long past the widespread fame of painting and sculptures. 

Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey doing the iconic lift in the classic movie Dirty Dancing
Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey doing the iconic lift in Dirty Dancing, another classic entry in our 2023 Summer Showdown lineup

While the era of film fame is alive and well today, the power of the big screen and a packed audience in a dark theater is unfortunately much easier to miss out on. And trying to experience the authenticity of a classic film when it’s streamed to your TV in your living room is akin to appreciating the Mona Lisa through a small image on your phone.

Getting to watch (or more likely, re-watch) these cinematic milestones on the big screen, sharing in a nostalgia trip with total strangers, and for many, re-living the magic of watching a classic when it first came out (and when it wasn’t even a classic yet) can be a powerful, and even emotional experience for many people. Classic movies have always been something that we have shared with both those close to us, and with those we don’t even know. Their staying power in our society and our communicative culture has always had the capacity to bring us closer together. And SLFS is proud to offer these classic movies in theaters to our Salt Lake City community.

See Classic Movies at SLFS Summer Showdown!

If classic movies are as important to you as they are to us, come down to the Broadway on a Friday or Saturday this summer, and see a film on the big screen that will take you on a little trip down memory lane. Or if you haven’t seen some of these classics before, there is truly no better way to experience them than on the big screen! Vote for your favorite film of our summer selections with your ticket purchase to the film, or any film-specific donations you want to provide by finding the poster in the Broadway lobby, scan the QR code of your favorite film, and donate if you want to see that film win! 

And don’t forget; until July 15th, all donations will be matched through a generous offer from a local family foundation. So if you value access to independent film and things like seeing classic movies on the big screen, this is the perfect time to show us your support! Click here to see our progress so far, and make your own contribution!

To see a list of our upcoming films and events, click here.
To join our Red Carpet Club, or to learn more about RCC levels, discounts, and benefits, click here.


SLFS Guest Post: Māsima 2023 and Lauren To’omalatai

Lauren To’omalatai is a Sāmoan screenwriter, director, and film programmer from West Valley City, Utah. She served as Director of the Utah Pacific Island Film Series for four years where she organized free community screenings showcasing films by and about Pacific Islanders throughout Salt Lake County. In 2021 she co-established the Māsima Film Tour with the Salt Lake Film Society to amplify this work and bring it to a wider audience. She is a proud alumni of imagineNATIVE’s Screenwriting: Features Intensive (2021) and Visual Communications “Armed With a Camera” Fellowship (2022-2023) under which she wrote and directed her debut short film “Snack”. You can find her on Instagram, and her website.


“Growing up in West Valley City, I was always surrounded by other Sāmoans and Pacific Islanders in my community. My parents spoke Sāmoan in the home, we ate Sāmoan food, attended a Sāmoan church, and danced in Polynesian groups. I was never the only Pacific Islander in any given place. I could always identify other Pacific Islanders by the way they looked, spoke, or my favorite, that signature boisterous laughter that seemed to follow us around, especially when we gathered together. I consider myself lucky there’s been a constant tether between myself and my heritage. 

During my junior year of high school, I became obsessed with film after watching Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds. It was the spark that led me to watch other films, explore film history, and try my hand at screenwriting. This budding interest was supported by a theater in downtown Salt Lake City that showed independent and foreign cinema: the Broadway. I’d always loved to write but there was something specific about screenwriting that spoke to me.

This curiosity led me to pursue a Film Production degree after graduation. I didn’t complete the program, leaving school to get a full-time job to help support my household. I was disappointed I couldn’t finish my studies because during this time I’d become increasingly aware that although I didn’t feel like an outsider in my own community, the world of film and television had yet to catch up to the wealth of stories that Pacific Islanders had— a realization that fueled my desire to continue writing scripts, even if I wasn’t in a position to return to school. 

a photo of a screening from the Utah Pacific Island Film Series

A Utah Pacific Island Film Series community screening of the short documentary Standing Above the Clouds (2020).

A few weeks later, in March 2016, an opportunity presented itself in the form of a free film screening of a Sāmoan film. Maybe I wouldn’t be able to learn the ins and outs of filmmaking in a classroom but I could still attend this screening and hopefully find other Pacific Islanders who were as passionate about film as I was. The Utah Pacific Island Film Series, a program of Pacific Island Knowledge 2 Action Resources (PIK2AR), had an afternoon showing of My Fa’a Sāmoa directed by Ursula Ann Siataga.

This short depicted a Sāmoan family living in the Bay Area. It was the first time a piece of media directly reflected my own experiences as a first-generation Sāmoan living in the diaspora. Although set in an entirely different state, it was a powerful moment to see the same ways Sāmoan culture was made malleable and molded around the way other young Sāmoans and their families in the U.S. were living. 

At the screening I met my mentor and friend Susi Feltch-Malohifo’ou, Executive Director of PIK2AR and for the next few years volunteered at screenings and attended Pasifika inclusive Sundance events. In 2019 I became Director until February 2020 when Covid-19 halted all in-person programming. For the next year we tried our best to facilitate online screenings and discussions, but of course, the energy was different and it was this new challenge to rally folks to watch films online at a time when the whole country was growing weary of watching films at home.

During this period, I reconnected with screenwriting and started submitting to screenwriting fellowships, something I’d never done before. To date, I’ve been privileged to participate in back-to-back fellowships that have strengthened my skills as a screenwriter and filmmaker and given me the gift of connecting with other indigenous and Pasifika filmmakers. 

a photo of many people at the LA Asian Pacific Film Festival

“Armed With a Camera” Fellowship cohort at the 2022
L.A. Asian Pacific Film Festival: (L-to-R) M. Kaleipumehana Cabral, Veialu Aila-Unsworth, Peter Filimaua, Alexis Si’i, Misa Tupou, and Lauren To’omalatai

This past year has been an incredible experience for me under Visual Communications “Armed With a Camera” Fellowship where I was given financial support and mentorship to direct my first short film “Snack”. This cohort was the first in AWC’s 20 year history to be entirely Pacific Islander which serves as a reminder that often in AAPI spaces or initiatives, the PI part of that acronym is minimized or forgotten completely.

Through this fellowship, some intercommunity healing has taken place and I’m hopeful we will continue to make strides in ensuring that when AAPI is used, it actually and actively includes Pacific Islanders in a meaningful way. Snack makes its world premiere at this year’s Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival and comes full circle to screen at this year’s Māsima on closing night. 

In 2021 I was a participant in the imagineNATIVE Screenwriting Intensive where I spent the following months writing my first feature film. This would also be the inaugural year of Māsima that saw the incredible staff from the Salt Lake Film Society help us orchestrate a virtual tour complete with panel discussions and partnering with local Pacific Islander owned businesses.

I chose the name Māsima, which means “salt” in a few Pasifika dialects, referencing Salt Lake City where it was created and the salt of the ocean that connects our Pacific Islands and stories. In 2022 Māsima’s program was a larger hybrid experience of both in-person and online screenings and thanks to the generosity of Bill Imada and his team at IW Group we took an abbreviated version of Māsima to Los Angeles. 

A photo of important people from opening night of Māsima 2022 at SLFS

Opening Night of the 2022 Māsima Pacific Islands Film Tour

Filmmaking is a collaborative effort. This goes for not only what happens on-set and on the production side of things, but also what happens when your film leaves you and is shared with others. There is a lot of trust and respect when a film is shared with an audience that we would all do well to remember and I’m extremely appreciative of each and every filmmaker who has allowed us to showcase their work in all iterations of Māsima. Salt Lake County has a large population of Pacific Islanders and it’s a dream fulfilled to share Pasifika stories with the local community for a third year at Broadway. 

There is an expression in Sāmoan, Teu le Vā, which means “nurture the space” and that space is essentially the relationships that we all have in our lives. This relationship could be one that you have with another person, multiple people, or the environment around you. This is a personal favorite saying of mine that I strive to live by because the relationships that we have with our family, friends, coworkers, ourselves, and the world around us, are crucial to the ways we see, experience, create, and share art. To be an artist is to be in community and we must prioritize these relationships so trust and creativity can take root and flourish. 

A still from a film showing two Pacific Islander women

Still image from Snack, starring Luseane Pasa and Vida
Tuitamaalelagi Hafoka

The relationship that I’ve had the honor of cultivating with the incredible team at the Salt Lake Film Society is one that I value greatly and I’m grateful to be working closely with an organization that doesn’t just purport to care about diverse stories but, has made an active effort to bring those stories and storytellers to the forefront. I hope Pasifika and non-Pasifika audiences alike will attend one of our screenings down at the Broadway to see the variety of humanity and creativity that the Pacific Islander community has. 

If you can’t make it to the Broadway in May during Māsima’s run or any of the available screenings online, here’s a curated list of Pasifika films that I believe have made waves of positive change and self-expression in the ever-expanding ocean that is Pasifika cinema.”

Here is a curated list from Lauren of Pacific Island films, available on SLFS Letterboxd and below.

Loimata: The Sweetest Tears (2022) directed by Anna Marbrook 

Waru (2017) directed by Ainsley Gardiner, Casey Kaa, Renae Maihi, Awanui Simich-Pene

For My Father’s Kingdom (2021) directed by Vea Mafileʻo 

Tanna (2015) directed by Martin Butler and Bentley Dean

Whale Rider (2002) directed by Niki Caro

The Dark Horse (2014) directed by James Napier Robertson

The Dead Lands (2014) directed by Toa Fraser

Cousins (2021) directed by Briar Grace-Smith and Ainsley Gardiner

Three Wise Cousins (2016) directed by Stallone Vaiaoga-Ioasa

Boy (2010) directed by Taika Waititi

Out of State (2017) directed by Ciara Lacy

Patu! (1983) directed by Merata Mita

Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016) directed by Taika Waititi

The Orator (2011) directed by Tusi Tamasese

One Thousand Ropes (2016) directed by Tusi Tamasese

Once Were Warriors (1994) directed by Lee Tamahori

Next Goal Wins (2014) directed by Mike Brett, Steve Jamison

Waikiki (2020) directed by Christopher Kahunahana

James & Isey (2021) directed by Florian Habicht

Leitis in Waiting (2018) directed by Joe Wilson, Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, Dean Hamer

Every Day in Kaimuki (2022) directed by Alika Tengan

The Land Has Eyes (2004) directed by Vilsoni Hereniko

No. 2 (2007) directed by Toa Fraser

The Legend of Baron To’a (2020) directed by Kiel McNaughton

Merata: How Mum Decolonised the Screen (2018) directed by Hepi Mita

Kumu Hina (2014) directed by Joe Wilson and Dean Hamer 

Island Soldier (2017) directed by Nathan FItch

Ever the Land (2015) directed by Sarah Grohnert

Mele Murals (2015) directed by Tadashi Nakamura and Keoni Lee

SLFS Staff Picks: Anderson and Anderson

Since the early 1990’s, there have been few directors who have crafted more iconic films with iconic casts than Wes Anderson and Paul Thomas Anderson (no relation). Throughout the last 25 years, each director has utilized his unique style of visual storytelling, as well as an incredible amount of acting talent to deliver some of the more impressive and acclaimed works of cinematic art out there.

Salt Lake Film Society is proud to be curating a whole month of films to showcase their artistic contributions to the Salt Lake City community! So whether you are a fan of P.T’s deeply flawed characters and suspenseful long takes, or Wes’s unique visual style and sense of humorous storytelling, come down to the Broadway and relive these all-time classics on the big screen! To get you in the mood , here are some SLFS Staff favorites from both Andersons:

Anderson and Anderson SLFS Staff Picks

THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS (2001) – Jesse Sindelar, Development Manager

    • “Before I watched THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS for the first time, the friend who recommended it to me told me that the whole film culminated in one single line near the end. After being entranced by the stacked cast, every one of which brought their A-game, and following this horribly dysfunctional family to a surprisingly optimistic ending, I finally discovered what my friend had meant. In one of the last scenes, Ben Stiller’s recently widowed character finally forgives his dad, played by the perfect bastard, Gene Hackman and opens up to him with a simple “I’ve had a rough year Dad”. Not only does it exemplify the emotional growth of the whole family, but I think everyone can deeply relate to that line to some extent.”

A still of Gene Hackman and Ben Stiller from the Wes Anderson film Royal Tenenbaums

 

P.T. ANDERSON Tori Baker, President/CEO

    • “A cinefile simply cannot pick! THERE WILL BE BLOOD is a tour de force that will likely land though cinematic history much in the way CITIZEN KANE has. BOOGIE NIGHTS is so unique and original and “of the moment;” MAGNOLIA packs a punch for anyone who has experienced death intimately, or love absently. Eat that frog or drink that milkshake, either way, thank you PT for the brilliance.”

MAGNOLIA (1999) – Marcie Collett, Associate Director of Development

A still of Phillip Seymour Hoffman in the P.T. Anderson film Magnolia

    • MAGNOLIA is my third favorite movie of all time – right after EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE and BARTON FINK. It is epic, mundane, magical, ridiculous, hilarious, heart-breaking, ecstatic, mysterious, and utterly nonsensical. It is unbearably long as the intertwining, desperate characters unravel until that biblical moment. I fell in love with Philip Seymour Hoffman in 1999 after watching him in this. He is the knight who tends to the mythic, dying Fisher King – Jason Robards who was himself dying in his last role, and he compassionately leads an extraordinary cast who have gone on to star in multiple P.T. Anderson roles.

RUSHMORE (1998) – Rachel Getts, Associate Director of Digital Content

    • RUSHMORE is a coming of age story that incorporates quirk, angst, art, and the Kinks. This sophomore film represents a less stylized Wes Anderson, with an emotional depth that elevates its love-triangle premise. Bop your head to the soundtrack and remember the pain of discovering that you don’t know everything that you thought you did.  It happens to some of us at 15, and to some of us a bit later.  But you can get back up and start anew. ” 

PUNCH DRUNK LOVE (2002) – Stephen Simmons, Associate Director of Production

    • “When I was a wee kid, I was a projectionist, and every-time we built up our 35mm prints, we would have to screen the film, checking to see if the print was damaged or out of order on the reels. One night, we received cans of PUNCH DRUNK LOVE for an advanced screening. It was 2am in the morning as we screened the print. This dramedy was so unexpected, original and awkward. I never laughed so hard in an empty theater. Adam Sandler’s performance alone was worthy of an Oscar nomination. The use of red, white, and blue visuals/colors was hypnotic and carried the anxiety of the plot. When the film ended, it was 4:30 am. I went right up to the projection booth and started it up again. Didn’t leave the theater until the sun came up. That’s how much I love this film.”  

A still of Ben Stiller and Emily Watson in the PT Anderson film PUNCH LOVE DRUNK

 

Indie Movie Theaters in Salt Lake City – SLFS

We hope you enjoyed our staff selections (and nostalgia trip), and we hope you get to enjoy a bit of reminiscing yourself with our Anderson and Anderson film series! Click here to see the upcoming schedule of Anderson and Anderson films for this April.

What Non-Profit Volunteering With SLFS Means

As the home of independent film in Utah, Salt Lake Film Society has been proudly offering access to unique visual stories on the big screen for over two decades. Being a non-profit organization, SLFS relies on community members and film-fans alike to volunteer and support our front of house staff in providing a welcoming art-house cinema experience. Our volunteers come from all across the Salt Lake valley and beyond, and everything they do helps to fulfill our mission and provide you with a great experience at our theaters. 

Why Volunteers Are Important to SLFS

a photo of non-profit SLFS volunteer Celeste Blodgett
SLFS volunteer, Celeste Blodgett

From helping people purchase tickets at the door, to supporting  our Red Carpet Club events and special screenings, our volunteers play a pivotal part in helping us show the films that you know and love. We make sure to recognize the effort and involvement of every volunteer, from free movie tickets to special access to certain events and screenings. But for many SLFS volunteers, it’s not just the perks that encourage them to support our theater and mission. For some, like frequent and more-recent volunteer, Celeste Blodgett, their dedication stems from the contributions they are making to independent film in Utah as a whole.

“I love being a part of something bigger than myself, and cinema is a perfect example of that. There is a real effort on the part of SLFS to highlight voices from communities often forgotten by the box office. By putting films like these on the big screen, SLFS is providing the greater Salt Lake City community an opportunity to learn new things, feel extraordinary emotions, and cherish all sorts of stories.” Blodgett commented.

“It takes so many people to make a movie, and it takes so many people to run a theater that showcases independent film, especially in our current age of streaming and constant recycling of IP (intellectual property). Volunteering at SLFS makes me feel like I am contributing in my own small way to keeping cinema alive,” continued Blodgett.

a photo of non-profit volunteer Taylor Kelley holding her dog
SLFS volunteer, Taylor Kelley

For others, like long-time volunteer and even longer-time patron Taylor Kelley, their engagement is fueled by the cherished memories and experiences they’ve had at Broadway Centre Cinemas, and the important part they play in creating those experiences for others. 

“I enjoyed seeing movies and going to events at the Broadway even before becoming a volunteer 5 years ago. I really love being a part of the people who create the Broadway “experience”, where you can see art-house films, as well as go to special events that actually feature the actors, directors and writers [who made these films],” Kelley remarked. 

Why YOU Should Volunteer at SLFS

SLFS volunteers are key contributors to the personal experience you receive each time you come to our theater. It fills us with pride to hear volunteers talk about what their involvement means to them, because SLFS feels the same way. “As a non-profit, we are lucky to be able to utilize community volunteers,” said Amy-Beth Aste, Director of Theater Operations at SLFS.

“We’ve worked with many dedicated volunteers over the past 20 years. Volunteers have almost always been the first point of contact [at the theater], helping patrons, supporting front of house staff, and of course sharing our non-profit story everyday. Event volunteers have always been a great support for galas, opening nights, and special events, not to mention they usually get to go to fun events too!” Aste continued. 

“Where else can you receive free movie tickets doing something you love?”

Taylor Kelley, SLFS Volunteer

As much as our volunteers help us, Salt Lake Film Society takes some pride in being a good place to volunteer and offering some sweet perks. “We are a pretty fun organization to be involved with!” Aste exclaimed. “[The Broadway] is a great place to volunteer. You get to see lots of films, and if you’re someone who loves movies, you will quickly meet other people to talk to about the ones you like. Over the years, SLFS volunteers have become friends with each other, and even formed groups that go to movies together, so it’s also a great place to meet like minded people.” 

Become a Non-Profit Volunteer with SLFS Today

We are always looking for new people to join our non-profit team. But don’t just take it from us; here’s what current volunteers have to say about why YOU should consider volunteering with SLFS:

“Where else can you receive free movie tickets doing something you love? I would encourage anyone who enjoys movies and people to join our team of volunteers.” – Taylor Kelley

“You should volunteer with SLFS if you love movies and people who love movies! Volunteer to give to an outstanding organization, to get to know incredible employees and patrons, and access remarkable films of course. Volunteering connects you to your community like nothing else- get to know the cinephiles in the city and help out SLFS while you’re at it!” – Celeste Blodgett.

If you value your access to independent film, and you value the unique and underrepresented stories we offer at SLFS, consider joining our volunteer team, and playing a starring role in supporting  independent film in Salt Lake City. Click here to apply for our volunteer program today, or send an email to jessesindelar@saltlakefilmsociety.org for any questions about volunteering.

To see a list of our upcoming films and events, click here.
To join our Red Carpet Club, or to learn more about RCC levels, discounts, and benefits, click here.


SLFS Staff on Valentine’s Day: Romantic (And Potentially Comedic) Picks

Love and romantic relationships have always held a special place in the world of visual storytelling, from the earliest on-stage stories of Shakespeare, to the romantic (and romantic-comedy) films that populate the world of cinema. With Valentine’s Day, the holiday of courtship and romance, right around the corner, what better way for Salt Lake Film Society to celebrate the power of love and film (and honor Saint Valentine) than discussing our favorite romantic/romantic-comedy films? 

While these films are often more entertaining and absurd than they are true to the real-life relationships we celebrate on Valentine’s Day, the drama of romance and the often-happy endings they portray always seem to inject us with a bit of hope and optimism about our own lives, romantic or otherwise.

As Jason Sudeikis’s character remarks in the hit Apple TV series Ted Lasso, he believes in “rom-communism”. “If all those attractive people can go through some light-hearted struggles and still end up happy, then so can we! Believing in rom-communism is all about believing that everything’s gonna work out in the end.” So take a look at what the SLFS Staff picked for their favorite romantic films, and see what stories make us believe that everything will (or won’t) work out in the end.  

Our Staff Picks for This Valentine’s Day

CITY LIGHTS (1931) – Tori Baker, President/CEO

A still of Charlie Chaplin and Virginia Cherrill in City Lights, the perfect film for Valentine's Day
Charlie Chaplin and Virginia Cherrill in City Lights
  • “The last shot of City Lights is simply one of the most heartbreaking film shots of any love story. The last line “Yes, I can see now?” and its complex meaning makes the shot a masterpiece. The hilarious journey of the Tramp falling in love with a blind flower girl — who believes he’s a wealthy patron — is a “must” in the staple of unusual romance stories. This one takes us on a journey that both affirms the best of humanity, and also slaps us with the complexities of our social strata in America.”

ADDICTED TO LOVE (1997)Stephen Simmons, Associate Director of Production

  • “‘90’s Roms Coms are my guilty pleasure (my runner up was HIGH FIDELITY). The one that stands out most is ADDICTED TO LOVE. Meg Ryan and Matthew Broderick are the perfect anti-heroes in this neurotic love story. Have you ever had your heart broken? Have you ever wanted to get revenge? This playful and hilarious black comedy pushes the boundaries of what one might do for love (or lack of). This is one of those films that is a comfort if you are down in the dumps. or just got dumped. If you have any symptoms of a broken heart, this might be your Valentine’s cure.”

IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT (1934) – Rachel Getts, Associate Director of Digital Content

  • “IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT has everything: Enemies to lovers? Check. Rich vs. poor? Check. Witty sexy banter? Check. This ’30s classic has just the right mixture of humor and romance.  Gable and Colbert are such a killer pairing.  From their first meeting it is without a doubt that these two are made for each other-if they could just get out of their own way.  A must-watch every year.” 

DOUBLE INDEMNITY (1944) – Marcie Collett, Associate Director of Development

  • “I actually love watching romances fail more than succeed, especially if a woman is mostly in charge, as Barbara Stanwyck is in DOUBLE INDEMNITY, or Joan Crawford in MILDRED PIERCE, or Bette Davis in THE LITTLE FOXES. I do enjoy the romantic success of Marilyn Monroe and Tony Curtis in SOME LIKE IT HOT, but really I’m happy for Jack Lemmon as he finds the most understanding lover who in the end tells him, “Nobody’s perfect.” Also Cher and Nicholas Cage in MOONSTRUCK have the most iconic romantic slap and line, “Snap out of it!” Finally, I just love Kyle in TERMINATOR when he says “I came across time for you, Sarah. I love you. I always have.”

HITCH (2005) – Jesse Sindelar, Development Manager

A still of Will Smith and Kevin James in the movie Hitch, a film perfect for Valentine's Day
Will Smith and Kevin James in Hitch
  • “For many film fans, the “rom-com” is a guilty pleasure, a bit of corny junk food to supplement the larger film palette. When it comes to HITCH though, for me there’s no guilt involved. It has all the rom-com tropes executed to stylish perfection: beautiful and charming people who struggle to make it work as they learn more about each other, slight miscommunications that hold the entire plot together, quality physical comedy between Will Smith and Kevin James, and a happy, heartfelt ending that makes all the corn and self-sabotaging failures worth it. This film makes you actually believe that love is right around the corner if you just try hard enough, or if you give a well-timed and passionate monologue full of emotional truths and clever metaphors. Plus, seeing Will Smith drunk on Benadryl is a wish I never knew I had.”

ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND (2004) – Susan Tive, Head of Philanthropy 

  • “Charlie Kaufman and Michel Gondry teamed up to create one of my favorite romantic comedies. Released in 2004, Eternal Sunshine stars Jim Carey and Kate Winslet playing Joel and Clementine, lovers who break up and attempt to make that final by erasing each other from their memories through a new scientific procedure. While they hope that a spotless mind will eliminate the past and thus the painful moments of their relationship, the film shows us that love, and its associated moments and memories become essential parts of who we are and that what connects us to one another remains indelible whether we choose to pay attention to it or not.”

Art House Films in Salt Lake City – SLFS

At Salt Lake Film Society, we love a good story on the big screen, whether it’s a love story or not. The emotion that films make us feel sits at the heart of what makes us human, and love is one of the most powerful emotions of them all. While these staff selections might not all have the happy endings or light-hearted, positive emotions you want out of a love story, we hope they offer some interesting insight into the wide variety of romantic (and romantically-comedic) films out there, and maybe even provide a good movie to watch for your Valentine’s Day celebration.

Find some Valentine’s Day cards for your favorite movie-goer from SLFS here.


To see a list of our upcoming films and events, click here.
To join our Red Carpet Club, or to learn more about RCC levels, discounts, and benefits, click here.


SLFS Staff: The Crowd, The Audience, and White Noise

At Salt Lake Film Society, we take a lot of pride in providing access to the movie theater experience. For many films and visual stories, the very nature of their production and exhibition is designed to be watched on the big screen, shared in a movie theater with others. In our blog this week, we hear from Landon Adams, Theater Manager at Broadway Centre Cinemas, and how his experience watching White Noise was enhanced through the movie theater experience.


“Watching a film in a theater is a profound sensory experience. We become entranced by both the screen in front of us, and the audience surrounding us. In Noah Baumbach’s White Noise, characters speak of the supermarket as a spiritual haven, a temple broadcasting soothing psychic data composed of words, images, colors and sounds. The cinema’s function is the very same. 

Adams, standing in front of the White Noise poster and posing somewhat similarly to Jack Gladney (Adam Driver)

The plot of the film concerns the exploits of the blended Gladney family. The main protagonist, J.A.K. Gladney (played by Adam Driver), is a professor of Hitler studies, who in an early scene waxes poetically to a group of wide-eyed college students about the allure of the crowd. They hang onto his every word on topics ranging from “deathward” plots, to mob mentality and the power of the collective. Their awe feeds into Jack’s sense of immortality in an unwitting ritual that summons the dark cloud of Jack’s tentative demise and sets the wheels of our story in motion.

It’s in the aforementioned lecture that Jack, pointing out into the lecture hall, singles out a terrified student as a member of the future dead. We see this moment in a POV shot, from the viewpoint of the student. Jack Gladney points directly into the camera, pointing at both the student, and projected overhead on a 45 foot screen, pointing into the theater at us. If we were watching this on TV, we might miss that throughout the film Jack is aware of us, speaks to us, asking us in states between wakefulness and dreaming, “Who are you?” So attuned to the crowd, he senses us even when alone in his room in the dead of night.

For the duration of the movie we are invited into various crowded scenes: An overstuffed home, a bustling campus, evacuation camps, supermarkets, even roadways; traffic stretching out past the horizon toward infinity. The characters’ relation to these crowds is ever-shifting. Sometimes they are leaders, sometimes members. They often look to these crowds to measure themselves and source how they should feel, or how they should act. They find comfort in crowds, a sense of subconscious immortality borne out of an esoteric reinforcement, the comfort from “the collective”.

The film opens with a monologue over a montage of car crash stunts. The monologue asserts that these crashes are a highlight reel, representing innovation and optimism. This opening contextualizes what happens later in the film while Jack is driving down the highway. In the midst of a crisis our cast witnesses an accident, or at least the children do. When it happens, Jack is looking away.

Again we see the action as a POV shot, this time inhabiting the viewpoint of Jack’s children. A car rushes into the frame, overturning in a blink-and-you-miss-it moment, and when it occurs, Jack is looking away, into the camera, as if watching for  our reaction, to determine from us, the audience, how he should feel.

A still from the film White Noise, a movie shown at the Broadway theater in SLC
A variety of shots in White Noise achieve their true visual and communicative power only when seen on a 45-foot screen in a dark room with strangers.

The movie theater provides a communal experience, often complex and of multi-dimensions. We gather under the flashing lights of the big screen and allow ourselves to sink into the story, letting our  worries fall away across a paltry runtime. Sharing this with an audience makes the spell all the more potent. The people surrounding us help transform the experience by virtue of their presence and individual experiences.

It’s these fellow movie-goers, these crowds of eager enthusiasts, who  breathe life into a film, and ground us in the experience. It’s our physical presence with others that creates and completes this unwitting ritual, just as in the film. Acting as kindred travelers on the cinematic highway, we escape down reality’s off-ramp toward the open-road comfort of the surreal, where together we are immortal beneath the silver screen of the theater.”


Thank You And a Happy New Year From SLFS

2022 Is Nearly Gone, But The Memories Live On

Hello independent film fanatics, and congratulations on making it through another year! As we all worked our hardest to make it through the days, months, and year of 2022 whole, many of us found support and solace in film, and the incredible visual stories that we are engaged in. Whether exploring the multiverse to appreciate the true value of life and kindness in Everything Everywhere All at Once, or enjoying a quirky couple’s love for volcanoes and each other in Fire of Love, or learning more about those who are hearing-impaired and the beautiful burden of family in CODA, we have screened many beautiful and breathtaking stories at the Broadway in 2022.

EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE
FIRE OF LOVE
CODA
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Perhaps you got one of the last tickets to a Rocky Horror Picture Show accompanied by live performers, or maybe you were the only one in the theater to see a captivating, foreign independent film on a Tuesday afternoon; Salt Lake Film Society is proud and privileged to exhibit all kinds of incredible stories for the Salt Lake City community, all supported by dedicated patrons like you.

Supporting Independent Film in 2023 With SLFS

If you’ve enjoyed your experiences at the Broadway, and if you value the type and quality of films you see with SLFS, please consider supporting us! Join the Red Carpet Club, or make a donation online right now at SLFS.org, or at the theater the next time you see a film; even better, make a donation before Sunday and reduce your taxable income for the coming year! Every dollar supports our mission to exhibit, engage, and educate the Salt Lake City community through independent film. We couldn’t do it without you.

a photo of some the SLFS staff and board in their office in downtown Salt Lake City

 

Some the SLFS staff and board members at the SLFS office

From our Salt Lake Film Society family to yours, thank you for engaging with diverse stories and supporting independent cinema in Salt Lake City, and we look forward to seeing you all in 2023!


SLFS Staff: Holiday Picks 2022

In Salt Lake City, the holiday season is a time of joy, compassion, and nostalgia. Whether you are spending time with family and friends, or  enjoying the snowy slopes and warm drinks, this time of year is about loving traditions and memories as well as making new ones. Whether it’s the holiday movie you watched every year as a family, or going out to your local theater on Christmas Day, film has a special place in many of our hearts during this festive period. 

At Salt Lake Film Society, our staff also have a special place for movies in their hearts during the holiday season. From all-time holiday classics, to obscure independent films, to the never-ending debate on whether or not Die Hard is a Christmas movie, our love of film and cinema doesn’t take time off for the holidays. Check out the wide variety of picks and preferences that SLFS  staff enjoy during this time of year and who knows, maybe you will find a new title to add to your family holiday movie tradition!

TOKYO GODFATHERS (2003)Tori Baker, President/CEO

    • “Consider starting a tradition of viewing the masterwork Tokyo Godfathers, a tale that will take you on a sentimental journey that might just also break your heart in the best way possible—the way that makes you want to pursue more understanding of humanity and it’s complexities.”

AUNTIE MAME (1958) – Marcie Collett, Associate Director of Development

    • “During holidays – or whenever I’m in need of inspiration on abundance and fabulousness – I treat myself to Rosalind Russell in Auntie Mame. Mame’s memoir is Live, Live, Live!, and her motto is: “Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving.”

a still of gremlins caroling from the holiday movie Gremlins
GREMLINS (1984) is actually a Christmas movie, complete with Gremlin carolers!

GREMLINS (1984) – Rachel Getts, Associate Director of Digital Content 

    • “A classic funny alternative holiday movie that doesn’t take itself too seriously.  The gremlin bar scene alone is a bizarre surreal hilarious mess. Wouldn’t change a thing.”

SCROOGED (1988) – Stephen Simmons, Associate Director of Production

    • “I watch this film every year. It never gets old. It’s got everything. The cast is a 90’s comedy dream team. It’s spooky, sarcastic and filled with Christmas spirit(s). The speech Frank Cross (Murray) gives at the end makes me tear up…..every damn time.”

CAROL (2015) – Ally Lantz, Theater Operations Manager

    • “One of my favorite films that is altogether beautiful and heartbreaking (and also happens to have a Christmas road trip involved). In other words, be sad, do gay, and Merry Christmas.”

A PISTOL FOR RINGO (1965) – Landon Adams, Theater Operations Manager

    • “Have you ever watched a spaghetti western and thought “This would be improved with a Christmas theme?” Well A PISTOL FOR RINGO exists anyway. It opens with two men meeting in the center of town at high noon, hands near their gun belts. One moves fast, offering his hand: “Merry Christmas, Jack”.”

RECKLESS (1995) – Brandon Suisse,  Associate Director of Development

    • “A bizarre and largely forgotten dark comedy for anyone who has ever been overwhelmed by the relentless giddiness of the holiday season. While the satire may not feel scalding (or coherent) enough for some, it ultimately arrives somewhere that’s unexpectedly un-pessimistic. This unpolished gem of a movie is a must-see for Grinches everywhere–if you can find a copy.”

IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE (1946) – Jesse Sindelar, Development Manager

    • “An established holiday tradition for many, it’s also the blueprint for most holiday movie storylines: not appreciating what you have until it’s gone. I’ve cried at the end of every watch, and I’ll keep on crying in the future. Merry Christmas you wonderful old Building and Loan!”

SLEEPER (1973) – Susan Tive, Head of Development

    • “As a child, my Jewish family’s Christmas tradition was dinner at a Chinese restaurant followed by a movie. In 1973, it was SLEEPER, Woody Allen’s dystopian comedy which became for me one of those cinematic treasures I summon again and again and when I do, I’m still a kid too young to get the punchlines but not yet too old to delight in the memories of my parents’ laughter.” 

THE FAMILY STONE (2005) – Amy Beth Aste, Head of Theater Operations

    • “The actors alone make me nostalgic, Sarah Jessica Parker, Diane Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Dermot Mulroney, Luke Wilson, Claire Danes, Craig T. Nelson, Paul Schneider, all actors I loved in the 90’s! They come together in one story of a family that deserves your suspension of disbelief and will make you laugh, cry, and want to learn sign language.”

TANGERINE (2015) – Daniel de Santiago,  Front of House Staff

    • “My love for this holiday film goes not just towards its hilarious dialogue, but how the film was captured. Sean Baker is amazing in how he documents his scenes, they feel more like a documentary then a scripted film, it’s excellent directing. Plus, the first line in this film is “Merry Christmas B***H”.”

POLAR EXPRESS (2014) – Sophie Nielsen,  Front of House Staff

    • “All aboard, and hold on TIGHTLY! I make my family watch POLAR EXPRESS every Christmas. Everything about it is magical: the scenery, the music, the friendship, the actual magic, and the fact that they only had to hire one voice actor (Tom Hanks).”

a still of Olivia Hussey in Black Christmas, a holiday slasher from 1974
Olivia Hussey in Black Christmas (1974)

 

BLACK CHRISTMAS (1974) – Patrick Charles, Theater Operations Manager

    • “An amazing proto-slasher movie directed by Bob Clark that mixes tons of laughs with extremely dark Christmas-themed mayhem. Clark would go on to direct, A CHRISTMAS STORY, which is quite similar to BLACK CHRISTMAS, minus the obscene phone calls and murders.” 

 

A CHRISTMAS CAROL (1984) – Guy Wheatley, Head Projectionist

    • “When it comes to epitomizing the character, George C. Scott *is* Ebenezer Scrooge. You believe his every caustic remark about Christmas, and his redemption is the most poignantly reminiscent of Scott’s own career. This Christmas Carol is the only Dickens you need.”

JUST FRIENDS (2005) – Abby Derrick,  Front of House Staff

    • “Reminds me of long winter nights spent with my sisters. Every Christmas Eve, we’d stay up all night watching this over and over, the jokes getting funnier with every watch. It’s the perfectly funny movie to ring in the new year.”

MIXED NUTS (1994) – Zoey Wiltsey, Event Manager

    • “For me, the holiday season doesn’t really start until I’ve watched Mixed Nuts. It’s been a tradition since early adolescence. I love Nora Ephron’s dark sense of humor and I find the 90’s sensibilities very comforting around this time of year.”

Holiday Films at SLFS

We hope the variety of seasonal movies and personal experiences shared by our staff add some cinematic perspective to your holiday season (and maybe even some inspiration for the next holiday movie night!).

At Salt Lake Film Society, we can’t think of a better present for the people you love then the gift of cinema. Consider sharing and supporting access to quality independent film this holiday season, with a gift membership to our Red Carpet Club!



Find this holiday list on Letterboxd! We have curated lists from SLFS Staff there, including the films mentioned in this post, here.

SLFS Staff: The Unique Passage of Time in a Movie Theater

At Salt Lake Film Society, we believe that the visual stories of film are at their best on the big screen. Whether it’s the dark room, the imposing visuals, or the access to movie theater popcorn, the unique experience of watching a movie in a movie theater is not lost on our patrons, or our staff members. In our blog this week, we hear from Ally Lantz, Theater Manager at Broadway Centre Cinemas, on the amplified experience of watching her favorite director, Celine Sciamma, on the big screen.


“Why do we enjoy spending our time watching movies at a movie theater? While it’s a seemingly simple question, there are a wide variety of answers depending on who you ask. For some, it might be the popcorn and snacks, while for others it might be the communal and social viewing experience. For myself, I like watching in a theater because I enjoy being immersed in the pace of a film. Watching at home, time is beholden to our control and to our terms. You can pause and disrupt the film experience at any moment.

But in a theater you must entirely relinquish your control of time. You allow yourself to be swept up in the story’s passage of time, often experiencing time in a different way. If you are lucky, you will find yourself leaving the cinema feeling as though you have just emerged from a cocoon, where the film’s relatively brief runtime has materialized into an epic cinematic journey. 

Sciamma in The Movie Theater

This unique passage of time is why I love watching films in a theater, and is no better exemplified than through the work of Celine Sciamma, a favorite of mine. Sciamma manipulates time in the service of elevating the emotional weight of her stories. Earlier this year, she released a new film, Petite Maman, which follows an 8-year-old named Nelly after her beloved grandmother passed away. She helps her parents clean out her mother’s childhood home and what follows is a tender meditation on grief and familial relationships. 

a photo of SLFS Staff member Ally Lantz standing next to a movie theater poster for Petite Maman
Lantz standing next to the Petite Maman poster at the Broadway

Petite Maman is a film that has led me to months of decryption and contemplation. If you asked me how long a movie should be to fully explore the complex thematic content typical of Sciamma, I would say you would need something akin to a 3-hour narrative. Yet Sciamma manifests a layered epic within a brief 72 minutes.

The young girls’ interactions occur beyond the sphere of chronological time, but these characters are not in stasis, and the full weight of emotion that the more traditional passage of time would imply is still communicated effortlessly. I saw this film at our own Broadway Centre Cinemas and even with an unusually short runtime, I drifted into a sort of limbo; where literal time passage was irrelevant, it felt like days or even weeks had gone by.

The Passage of Time in Portrait of a Lady on Fire

In another Sciamma film, Portrait of a Lady on Fire, there are only a few indicators that time has passed at all, in reality and in the story. The clearest is the presence or absence of the Mother character, and upon her departure, our two female leads find themselves suspended in a timeless bubble. Within this space the characters are free to indulge in infatuation, their mutual experience undisturbed and their love permitted to develop.

When the Mother returns, this bubble suddenly bursts, and with a twisted urgency, it all begins to move too quickly. Time starts running out, and our characters become aware of the impending and unavoidable conclusion. We watch their experiences begin to transform into memories, which are altered by the emotions and complexity of their circumstances.

still of Celine Sciamma, Noémie Merlant and Adèle Haenel on the set of Portrait of a Lady on Fire
Noémie Merlant, Adèle Haenel, and director Celine Sciamma on the set of Portrait of a Lady On Fire

This memory of mine was made possible by the insulated and attentive nature of the movie theater viewing experience (and the following dream-like state). If I had not experienced the story within the controlled theatrical environment, the impact of Sciamma’s story and the connection I felt to it would not have been possible.

If you look at Portrait of a Lady on Fire as a story told from the memory of Marianne, one of the two main characters, the intent behind the malleability of time is clear. It is her memory that alters time and the pace of this story, blending moments and experiences into the physical passage of time itself. I remember walking out of the theater after watching this film, feeling like I had just emerged from an emotional fever dream.

The experience of watching Celine Sciamma’s films has been described as “unwrapping a present from someone who loves you”; tender and intimate, and occupying not just the linear flow of moment to moment, but the space of memory and feeling. The best way to immerse yourself in this playful rendering of time is to give yourself fully to the experience. The spell may be broken if you hit pause, so please next time Sciamma or any of your favorite filmmakers releases a film, head to your nearest cinema (like Broadway Centre Cinemas). These films are made to be seen in theaters and being in one is a part of the experience you will not want to miss out on.”


To see a list of our upcoming films and events, click here.
To join our Red Carpet Club, or to learn more about RCC levels, discounts, and benefits, click here.