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Grand Teton Film Festival screens variety of documentaries and short films in Rexburg

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REXBURG — Cinematic storytelling in both documentary and narrative form was on display when the Paramount 5 theater in Rexburg hosted the Grand Teton Film Festival on Saturday, May 21.

The festival allowed film lovers to see a selection of feature-length and short films they might not otherwise have a chance to see. The films displayed a dizzying variety of visual storytelling techniques and evoked every emotion imaginable.

“This year, we actually had more documentaries submitted than in years past, which is great,” the festival’s organizer, Steven Vest, told EastIdahoNews.com. “They come to us from all over the place. And then we have a number of short films from film students at BYU-I, as well as from some filmmakers in Boise.”

The festival screened five feature-length documentaries:

  • ”828” – This film documents a Boise man’s attempt to ride the entirety of Iceland’s Ring Road on an electric skateboard.
  • ”Pescamare” – A beautifully shot Italian-language documentary, “Pescamare” captures daily life in a the small fishing town of Fano, Italy.
  • ”Why We Walk” – A piece following The Urban Hikers, a trio of black men who set out to raise awareness of racial and cultural differences, and their own personal struggles along the way.
  • ”Elemental: Redefining Our Relationship with Wildfire” – An examination of how wildfires spread, why they can be so deadly and how to protect homes from destruction.
  • ”No Visible Trauma” – This film digs into the violence and brutality of a very troubled police department and why police officers are so rarely held accountable for their misdeeds.

Alongside these films, the festival included a number of short narrative films and documentaries. The narratives covered a wide range of genres from science fiction to horror and supernatural suspense to romantic comedies. The documentaries addressed subjects like plastic pollution and recovering from alcoholism.

Vest said that some of the films in this year’s festival are united by several shared themes.

“I think the documentaries all share a sense of adventure and empowerment and motivation,” Vest said. “The short films kind of run the gamut but I think the overarching theme for the documentaries this year has been a lot about trying to find oneself.”

“I think (cinema) is a really powerful and emotional tool to help people become immersed in someone’s story or a political issue or a social issue,” he added. “It’s different from reading something because you get to see the emotion behind the story and see the people and how it affects them. That’s what I love about cinema: being able to immerse yourself in the picture and the story and the sound and the emotion.”

The festival is still trying to get back on its feet in the wake of COVID-19, so this year’s proceedings were scaled way back to screening the films. Vest said that he hopes to return to a full schedule, including a black-tie gala and awards show concert, next year.

“Because of COVID and because our sponsors are feeling the pinch, we’ve had to scale back our offerings to mainly concentrating on screening the films,” he said. “We know that the films and the filmmakers deserve more celebration than what we can offer right now but under the circumstances, this is the best we can do. Next year, we hope to be back on track with what we did our first year.”

Keep up with the Grand Teton Film Festival by visiting its website or Facebook page.

paramount 5 in sunshine
Photo by Adam Forsgren

Thanks to Fat Cats in Rexburg for providing screenings for movie reviews on EastIdahoNews.com.

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