The organization makes it its mission to showcase independent films that they deem culturally and educationally valuable to a curious audience in Moab. The lineup for the 2018 festival included films and documentaries from across the globe.
First in the lineup was American filmmaker Kip Anderson’s controversial dietary documentary What The Health, a film that exposes the alleged connection between meat, dairy and big pharma companies. The second film featured was Japanese drama Radiance, which chronicled the relationship between a woman who writes movie audio commentary for the visually-impaired — as she falls for a renowned photographer who is losing his sight.
On Saturday’s schedule was a documentary called Ethiopia Rising, which featured the remarkable story of a man’s mission to “create an Eden out of Africa’s barren landscape.” In the film, a man by the name of Abu Hawi spent several decades fighting deforestation in a land marred with war and famine, and managed to turn the tides and provide a more sustainable future for his people.
Next up on Saturday was Canada’s Unarmed Verses. This documentary chronicles a few members of an Ontario housing project as they prepare to be relocated.
Sunday kicked off with Russian comedy Superprize, a film featuring a security guard that wins a tiny smart car in a lottery. The final film of the festival was All the Wild Horses, which chronicles the Mongol Derby. The derby is said to be the world’s toughest horse race, and attempts to recreate the 1,000-kilometer Morin Urtuu postal system employed by Genghis Khan.
The festival’s managing director, Denise Felaar, and director of administrative affairs Nathan Wynn, were present at the event and spent time engaging with the Moab community discussing the impact of each film. Wynn cited a need for these types of films in our culture, saying, “The films that are currently being shown in theatres and things like that aren’t doing our society any favors. Showing these films is how you can make a change in the world without doing it all yourself. For us, it’s a voice that otherwise doesn’t get heard.”
Wynn also noted that mainstream movies are often driven by profit and marketing motives — more than being focused on the overall benefit of the people watching them.
Wynn and Felaar said they look for films that are inspiring and their aim is to present “thought-provoking content” to an audience that may otherwise miss out on a unique experience or point of view. They also noted that Moab audiences love to be informed, so part of the challenge in selecting films for this showing was finding things that the audience hadn’t already been exposed to.
When asked which film stood out the most to the them, Felaar and Wynn agreed that all the films had unique qualities that reach audiences in different ways, thus making it impossible to pick just one they could deem as their favorite.
“The two of us watched every one of these films because we have to in order to make a good choice,” Felaar said. “I won’t say I have a favorite, because all of them are just phenomenal.”
As for their next festival, the team is focusing on early promotion to maximize participation. While the turnout for this year’s festival was good, Felaar and Wynn would like to increase their numbers for next year. Wynn also noted that this was the first year they did not have guests such as directors at the showing, largely due to visa and travel complications.