Film Festival To Highlight Mormon Film Making – Press Release 11/24/2003

DATE 11/24/2003 9:55 AM

This is part of an occasional series by the Sanpete Country Travel and Utah Heritage Highway 89 Alliance on the people and places along U.S. Highway 89.

Film Festival To Highlight Mormon Film Making

Fountain Green will host the First Annual Mormon Heritage Film Festival Aug. 26-28 2004.

The three-day festival will be held in the newly-restored Fountain Green Theater and Dance Hall. A complete schedule of juried awards, scholarships and itinerary of film events will be available Dec. 20.

The community has raised more than $600,000 in grants and in-kind contributions for the restoration project, including grants from the Utah Historical Society, a Rural Development Matching Block Grants, U.S. Forest Service, Community Impact Board and The Eccles Foundation. Numerous community fund-raising events were also held.

The project has been underway for two years.

Devon Mikkelsen, 84, of Fountain Green, remembers hooking up his dog to his hickory sleigh for a break neck ride into town to see silent film star Hoot Gibson. The first film shown at the theater was hand-cranked. Almost 100 citizens crowded around a potbelly stove in the center of the seats. Small children brought blankets and feel asleep at the front of the theater. Denise Blackham, 94, was the pianist, playing along to the black-and-white films after practicing all afternoon, following the action

with appropriate crescendo and pianissimo. “It was pure magic,” Mikkelsen says. The magic still lives. The cities and towns along U.S. Highway 89, the Heritage Highway Fountain Green, Moroni, Mt. Pleasant, Fairview, Spring City, Ephriam and Manti — all boast beautifully-restored opera houses, theaters and meeting houses.

The highway is a 250-mile corridor attracting national and international tourists. Hollywood discovered the area in the 1940s when Darryl Zanuck presented the epic film Brigham Young, starring Tyrone Power, Dean Jagger and Linda Darnell. It cost $2,000 and was heralded the epic tale of the West.

Fast forward to the new millennia and the time is ripe for a Mormon Heritage Film Festival. The festival will be formally juried by film professionals. All seven Sanpete County municipalities will participate.

“The initial festival is just the beginning of a planned year of audience-targeted events and ongoing educational curriculum, created for young school children,” said Fred Burns, event chairman. Events for children will include ongoing educational curriculum composed of script writing, music composition and community theater events.

The Mormon Heritage Film Institute will also host quarterly bus tours of Sanpete County highlighting its rich heritage. “A “future film makers” program is also in the planning stages,” says Monte Bona, a festival board member. “We are awaiting input from the local communities and interested educators and students.”

For more information Contact:

Monte Bona
Sanpete County Travel and Heritage Council
(435) 462-2502

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