Arts News

Salt Lake City Film Festival: An international project

Summer blockbusters like Transformers and Thor are famous for CGI graphics, huge budgets and not much plot. For Utah film-goers, finding a large selection of independent and well-made films in theaters during the summer months is nearly impossible.

But the Salt Lake City Film Festival is changing all that, said Justin Allred, director of programming for the fest.

“It started because we wanted a really local film festival during the summer and we noticed that no one had the name rights for the Salt Lake Film Festival,” Allred said.

What began as a small group of friends in 2009 pursuing an independent project has ballooned into a four-day prestigious event with an enormous collection of terrific films. With hundreds of submissions from filmmakers all over the world, it truly is becoming an international affair. This year’s festival will take place Aug. 18-21 with screenings at the Broadway Centre Cinemas, the Tower Theatre and Brewvies.

The film selection is done by a panel and there is no agenda or theme to the festival, Allred said.

“We just look for good movies. There’s no political agenda. If it’s a good movie, we don’t care what the message is,” Allred said. “We try to show films that won’t be other places, like Sundance. And every year we feature at least one LGBT film.”

The film festival will show 12 feature-length movies and around 30 shorts. While some films are family-friendly, it is an adult festival and most of the films have adult themes. The festival has featured some local films, but all submissions are held to the same high standards and although it is locally-managed, not all the films are local. The selection process does not screen out submissions that are featured in other film festivals, but it does tend to look for original and new content, Allred said.

“We never shy away from a film because of adult content,” Allred said.

The film festival is not directed by the Salt Lake Film Society, although the two groups work well together, Allred said.

This year’s selection of films has not been fully developed and released, but the lineup is going to be impressive, Allred said.

The film festival also sponsors a series of free movies throughout the year at Brewvies in Salt Lake. The HEFFE’FILM’IN (think hefeweizen beer) shows classic movies every third Thursday.

For more information about the festival and to find a full lineup after it is released, go to

Seth Bracken

Seth Bracken is the editor of QSaltLake

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