The beautiful family film "Seasons of the Heart," a locally produced low-budget feature, has won its second film festival prize, which should help put director T.C. Christensen on the map - along with the Murray-based Feature Films for Families.
The family drama, which is set in the Old West, was named Best Western/Adventure at the Santa Clarita Valley (California) International Film Festival last month. In November, the film won the Grand WorldFest Award at the Charleston International Film Festival in Charleston, S.C."Seasons of the Heart" tells the story of 10-year-old orphan boy who is taken in by a pioneer couple. The father is enthusiastic about having the lad join the family, but the mother is reluctant, as she is still mourning the loss of her two young daughters, who died during the family's trek West.
Though that storyline sounds as if the film has the potential to be cloying and overly sentimental, director Christensen, tackling his first feature-length project, has taken a higher road, resulting in a stirring and heartfelt series of conflicts that gradually lead to a genuine emotional bond, reaching its apex on Christmas Eve.
"Seasons of the Heart" is a lovely film in all respects.
As for Features Films for Families, the mail-order video-sales company began by selling public domain movies ("It's a Wonderful Life," "The Inspector General"), then built a library of family-oriented films ("Benji," "Little House on the Prairie," "Baker's Hawk"), including some that were edited to make them even squeakier clean ("On Our Own," "Windwalker").
A few years ago, Feature Films went into the video-movie production business, with such children's films as "In Your Wildest Dreams" and the popular "Buttercream Gang" pictures.
But with "Seasons of the Heart," Feature Films is starting to hit its stride, proving that "family movies" don't have to be silly or sappy.
"Seasons of the Heart" is available on video from Feature Films for Families; phone 263-8555 for more information.
- THE TOWER THEATER is getting together with Salt Lake Community College for the second annual International Film Festival, which begins Friday, April 29.
Among the movies to be shown during the two-week event are the Oscar-nominated Vietnamese film "The Scent of Green Papaya," the Spanish-language "Highway Patrolman" by British filmmaker Alex Cox ("Sid and Nancy") and the Korean epic documentary "Why Has Bodhi-Dharma Left for the East?"
Each of those will have a regular run at the Tower, but some of the others will be around for only a few screenings, including:
- The Chinese film "Yellow Earth," from Chen Kaige ("Farewell My Concubine") and Zhang Yimou ("Raise the Red Lantern"), about a teenage peasant girl who falls in love with a communist soldier.
- "Open Doors," an Italian Oscar nominee about a troubling murder trial.
- The French drama `The Music Teacher," which looks at a great baritone who shocks the music community by suddenly retiring.
- A Russian comedy, "Lonely Woman Seeks Lifelong Companion," about a middle-aged woman looking for a mate.
- The documentary "Deadly Currents," which examines the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from both sides.
- The French documentary "Echoes of a Somber Empire, from Werner Herzog ("Fitz-car-raldo"), which looks at the gruesome legacy of Jean Bedel Bokassa, ruler of the Central African Republic.
- And "A Scene at the Sea," a Japanese comedy about a young deaf couple passionate about surfing.
Each film will be shown at both the Tower and the Community College. Admission is $5 at the Tower and $4 at the college Little Theater, with discounts for students and faculty. Schedules with showtimes are available at both locations. For further information, phone the Tower at 328-1645 or the Community College at 957-INFO.
- ON ANOTHER FESTIVAL front, the Utah Film & Video Center is gearing up for the 15th annual Short Film and Video Festival, scheduled for June 13-18.
The deadline for entries is June 1, and entry forms and rules are available from the Film & Video Center, located at 20 S. West Temple in the Salt Lake Art Center. For further information, phone 534-1158.
- AND IF YOUR VIDEO has an LDS theme, you might want consider the Mormon Short Video Contest. Finalists' videos will be shown as part of the festival, to be held during the Sunstone Symposium, Aug. 17-20, in the Salt Lake Hilton Hotel.
Contest entry forms and rules are available at the Sunstone Foundation, 331 Rio Grande St., Suite 206, or phone 355-5926.
- QUOTE OF THE WEEK: Andie MacDowell, currently starring in "Bad Girls":
"I don't want to do any nudity. I think it's pretty bad if in order for men to enjoy a movie they have to see women naked. I don't think a woman would go to a movie just to see a man with his clothes off."