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Wydaho Film Festival aims to capture the Western spirit

Arts & Entertainment

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VICTOR — In its second year, the creators of the Wydaho Film Festival look toward independent films to celebrate the lives that define adventure and courage.

Hosted over two nights, the festival will kick off on Aug. 12 at Highpoint Cider north of Victor with doors opening at 6:30 p.m. for happy hour followed by raffles and five independent short films. The festival will pick back up again on Aug. 13 at Victor City Park with gates opening at 5:30 p.m. and seven films slated that evening.

“Our goal and mission of the festival (are) to take adventure and storytelling and ask, ‘What can we learn?’” said festival co-founder Phil Mollenkof. “This isn’t just about being physically adventurous, but asks how adventure and the story of adventure can teach us about breaking barriers in our own lives.”

The films will take the viewers on that very quest to find stories of adventure that work to challenge our own hurdles in life. And the lineup isn’t just for those river cowboys or cliff-hanging mountain guides. The stories selected and announced this week offer a wide breadth of audience appeal with many of the films featuring the stories of local people.

“We are highlighting stories that have happened here and the people in these stories who have ties here in these mountains,” said Mollenkof.

Some of these characters will include Jackson-based Exum Mountain Guide Zahan Billamoria in “Ascend: Reframing Disability in the Outdoors”; Oliver White, the famed fly fishing guide and co-owner of the South Fork Lodge in Swan Valley in “A Thousand Casts”; and the story of the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort’s pursuit of a mountain bike trail that supports adaptive and non-adaptive riders in “Digging for Answers.”

White is scheduled to speak at Saturday’s festival event.

This year the festival will support the nonprofit Teton Valley Foundation through its raffle prizes at Aug. 13’s events, which will also include a variety of food for sale, live music and lawn games.

The festival host is Chris Kugelman, an Emmy Award winning producer whose career in factual television and film spans the cable series “Deadliest Catch” to Teton Gravity Research’s film “Far Out.”

Tickets are on sale now at www.wydahofilmfest.com.

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