DocUtah attracts world-wide audience

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The fifth annual DocUtah film festival brought together students, community members and other individuals from all over the world to view and present independently filmed documentaries.

The festival continues to grow in size each year. As Phil Tuckett, artistic director of DocUtah and assistant professor of communications, addressed the audience at the kick-off event Sept. 2, he said there were 50 times more people in attendance this year than there were at the start of DocUtah five years prior.

The kick-off event was held in the Towne Square. Around 30 chairs were set up prior to the event starting, once the documentary began, those 30 chairs were surrounded by a sea of children, old-timers and young adults. Participants filled the grassy area and overflowed to the concrete steps as the community came together to view the opening film, “My Father’s Highway”.

The film festival has brought in 15,000 people from the states as well as internationally, instructor of business Bryon Geddes said.  

As the event continues to grow, so does the student involvement.

The word documentary makes the event sound boring, like something that most students would never want to participate in, said instructor of communications Jennifer Kohler. On the other hand, when students are asked if they would like to watch a film about how something was built, or why an event took place, their attitude about a documentary changes; they become interested. We need to help them realize what DocUtah really is, she said. 

Teachers need to incorporate the film festival into their class curriculum more, Kohler said. If teachers made the film festival a requirement, or had students watch films in leu of class time, students would be exposed to the festival and have a chance to really find out what it’s about. 

A class is now being offered to students through the communication department. The class lasts the length of DocUtah and is made up of the films and seminars that take place at the festival.  

The seminars allow the audience to meet directors and engage with them in an intimate setting. Questions are asked, answers are given and stories are told.

Having the opportunity to talk to the director of the film doesn’t generally happen, Kohler said. Normally when watching a film, viewers have to figure out on your their own what message the director was trying to share. The seminars allow them to meet with the director and find out exactly what he or she had in mind.

The seminars included talk about the director’s life, the film in particular, and the director’s passion or reason for filmmaking.

“I will never make a movie unless it will change my life forever, hopefully change the life of the subject and hopefully, hopefully change the lives of those in the audience,” said Henry Corra, director of “Farewell to Hollywood.”

People come from all over the world to not only view the films presented at DocUtah, but to share the films they have created. It brings multiple worldwide experiences to one place, Kohler said, and students have the opportunity to experience that.

“It’s like the world comes to visit campus for a week,” Kohler said.

Sometimes we get a little isolated, but we have people from all over the world here, including France, Germany, England, Canada, Tuckett said.

“It reminds us that we are part of a lot bigger world than just Washington County,” he said.