Coming Soon: Grand Teton Film Festival bringing movie magic to Rexburg

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Get your popcorn ready, east Idaho! The Grand Teton Film Festival is bringing the magic of cinema to Rexburg this spring.

Debuting May 31, the festival will showcase cinematic works ranging from feature films to animation to documentaries. Along with film screenings, the family-friendly festivities will include a street fair, various filmmaking workshops and an awards ceremony recognizing the hard work of the filmmakers involved.

The festival is the brainchild of east Idaho native and Brigham Young University-Idaho graduate Steven Vest. Seeing the growth and success of the “Premiere Night” showcase Vest has been staging for student filmmakers over the years, people began suggesting he organize something bigger.

“Members of the community who’ve come to watch have said ‘Hey, why don’t you do something for the city?’” Vest said. “And I haven’t wanted to because it’s a big enough headache just to do this little Premiere Night that I haven’t wanted to take on anything big.”

But as the years have passed, the pressure on Vest to do a full-blown film festival has continued to build. In April 2018, Vest finally decided the time was right to dive in and plan his own film festival.

Steven Vest. | Courtesy photo

“I started researching other festivals,” he said. “I looked into their operations and their structures, how much they charge, film categories and kind of learning everything I could.”

This festival will unfold over two days and hold events at multiple venues. It will feature 47 films from all over the world, including Iran, Mexico, New Zealand and Ireland, as well as films from throughout the United States. Each film was screened in advance for profanity, nudity and other objectionable material. Vest said the films are appropriate for audiences of all ages.

Vest said that an event on this scale would be impossible without the help and support of the city of Rexburg.

“The main reason we’re in Rexburg is because the city of Rexburg got behind us 100 percent,” Vest said. “They’re letting use their venues, they’re helping us out with so many of the activities. We decided to base the festival in Rexburg is because this where we’ve gotten the most support.”

Another reason Vest decided to stage the festival in Rexburg is because the area is rich in talent but lacking in opportunities for filmmakers to present their work.

“I’ve talked to many people, even the Film Office in Boise, and they’ve said that this is something this area has needed for a long time,” he said. “The film community in east Idaho seems to by pretty underrepresented. There’s a large group of people here in Rexburg that love to make movies and don’t have any platform for screening those other than putting them on Facebook or YouTube. We saw that as a void we could fill.”

The Grand Teton Film Festival gives these local filmmakers a platform to have real live audiences see their films. It also gives them a chance to expand their knowledge of the filmmaking process. Vest has arranged a series of workshops covering directing, cinematography, acting, video journalism and musical scores.

These workshops will be taught by industry professionals including Emmy-nominated Director and cinematographer Lars Lindstrom, accomplished director Craig Clyde and Local News 8 anchor Jay Hildebrandt.

The festival will culminate in an awards ceremony emceed by Hildebrandt on the night of Saturday, June 1. Following the awards show, pianist and composer William Joseph will play a concert, joined by several members of several local choirs and orchestra to close the festival out with a bang.

William Joseph | EastIdahoNews.com

The ultimate goals of the Grand Teton Film Festival stretch beyond putting a spotlight on the local filmmaking scene. Vest wants the festival to become a signature cultural event for the area, one the whole family can enjoy.

“We want this to be a prominent summer activity, something as fun as the Melaleuca Freedom Celebration, that everyone looks forward to every year,” said Vest. “Even though our mission is to help support narrative film, we want to give people a good experience. You know, come to the festival and have fun and come back next year.

For more information, including prices for passes and individual events, visit the Grand Teton Film Festival website or its Facebook page.

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