Flaunt in the Field: The 7th Annual Sun Valley Film Festival Blows into Town

by Sid Feddema

 Photo by J. Merritt/Getty Images for Sun Valley Film Festival

Photo by J. Merritt/Getty Images for Sun Valley Film Festival

We skedaddled north to the blizzard-swept Rockies this weekend for the 7th annual Sun Valley Film Festival in Sun Valley, Idaho—old Hollywood’s favorite ski destination, where Gary Cooper, Marilyn Monroe, and Ernest Hemingway once rubbed mittens over whisky-heavy apres-skis. This weekend, their storied celebrity and long-standing quintessence was ornamented by new Hollywood, who followed in their swishy tracks as Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Bosworth, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Demi Moore, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Jay Duplass and many other actors and filmmakers descended into the Wood River Valley for the four day event.

The festival is in many ways the little and less braggadocious sister of Park City’s Sundance Film Festival, where Sun Valley’s intimate size snuffs egos and allows personalities, connections, and the zeal for filmmaking to flourish everywhere from get-togethers in cozy cafes to the lofty lifts of Bald Mountain. Speaking exclusively with Flaunt, Bosworth told us the enchantment of the festival, “Sun Valley is all about the cinema. It’s wonderfully intimate and remains very high end in both the quality of films presented and the festival itself,” she said, adding, ”Other festivals are sadly starting to feel that the commercial aspects are more important than the storytelling. Sun Valley has kept its integrity... the magic dust.”

 Actress Gwyneth Paltrow attends the 2018 Sun Valley Film Festival Vision Award Dinner for Gwyneth Paltrow. Photo by J. Merritt/Getty Images for Sun Valley Film Festival .

Actress Gwyneth Paltrow attends the 2018 Sun Valley Film Festival Vision Award Dinner for Gwyneth Paltrow. Photo by J. Merritt/Getty Images for Sun Valley Film Festival .

The same opinion was shared by Yahya Abdul-Mateen, winner of this year’s Rising Star Award (and the upcoming bad boy in Aquaman.) Abdul-Mateen told Flaunt, “This year at the festival I can already tell people love filmmaking in every aspect- writing, acting, cinematography, producing, and so I’m really excited to be here and meet people who are just as excited about the process as I am.” 

Some of the festival’s most talked about films were Science Fair, Angst, and NONA. The latter the project of the 2018 Pioneer Award winner, Kate Bosworth, who spoke with us about the project- “The film stars an unknown girl (Sulem Calderon) from El Salvador. I executive produced the film, and my husband, who is half Mexican, wrote, directed, shot and produced the movie,” she said. 

“It is also in Spanish- we filmed in Central America and all throughout Mexico,” Bosworth said, adding, “We are proud to have collaborated on a project that includes so much diversity - and focuses on an issue that is imperative to not only women’s rights, but civil rights - human trafficking.” 

 Photo by J. Merritt/Getty Images for Sun Valley Film Festival

Photo by J. Merritt/Getty Images for Sun Valley Film Festival

For her work on NONA, Bosworth was celebrated at Friday night’s Pioneer Party where she delivered an optimistic speech after accepting the award. Some of the festival’s other most memorable parties included a revelrous elegy in the name of ski legend and filmmaker Warren Miller— party-goers in scintillating onesies toasted a hiemal moon on the streets of Ketchum as clips from classic ski movies rolled alongside high energy dance future house music, while Saturday night’s Award Bash bestowed a performance by the angelically groovy indie rockers, Sir Sly.

But beyond the wonderment of alpine merrymaking, kick-ass films, and stupefying surroundings, the festival took time to grapple complex conversations on female representation in filmmaking and began to surmise solutions with 2018 Horizon Award, which provides mentorships and grants to emerging female directors. This year, Benita Ozoude and Giselle Bonilla accepted the award. 

 Actor Yahya Abdul-Mateen II attends the 2018 Sun Valley Film Festival Rising Star Award Reception. Photo by J. Merritt/Getty Images for Sun Valley Film Festival.

Actor Yahya Abdul-Mateen II attends the 2018 Sun Valley Film Festival Rising Star Award Reception. Photo by J. Merritt/Getty Images for Sun Valley Film Festival.

The conversation was continued with a panel that discussed the Refinery29 Shatterbox initiative to promote women in film, led by award winning filmmakers Jessica Sanders, Eva Flodstrom, and Shannon Gibson. But the bow of the festival was tied with Gwyneth Paltrow’s acceptance of this year’s SVFF Vision Award, who said at the Zion Bank’s Coffee Talk series, “It’s weird when you have so few women, so few women of color, so few men of color behind the camera. (But) it’s a really exciting time to be a woman. Across all industries we have a lot of license to expand. I’m thrilled about what is happening.” 

And so, as the weekend wanes into Monday, we recollect the flurry of festivities, the past legends of Sun Valley from Miller to Monroe and grin, goggle-tanned and chap-lipped for the diverse powerhouses of post #MeToo filmmaking that are already wow-ing us like the touch of sun on the sensational Rocky Mountains. 


Written By Miles Griffis