Last weekend Sun Valley residents built up enthusiasm for the upcoming winter by attending the first annual Harvest Film Festival. Billed as a celebration of Sun Valley Resort's 75th season in business, the new film festival featured screenings of Grete Eliassen's "Say My Name," Level 1's "Eye Trip" and Teton Gravity's newest release "Light The Wick," as well as several other local films.
The festivities kicked off on Friday at Apple's Bar and Grill, at the base of Warm Springs. Wiley Miller and Tom Wallisch, two stars of the latest Level 1 Productions film, greeted incoming viewers and signed posters for the youth and a few older guests who coyly pretended to be bringing posters home to their own youngsters.
"It's for my son," moviegoer Christie Grimbull was overheard saying to Wallisch. The 36-year-old managerial assistant's cover story seemed good enough. But the supplicating smile she wore approaching the table with poster in hand called into question the very existence of this young Mr. Grimbull or at least the lad's interest in ski movie memorabilia.
Once the autographs were signed and the sun dipped behind the Sun Valley horizon, the standing-room-only crowd hushed to take in "The Story," a documentary film produced by The Ski Channel. "Mining Idaho," a team movie produced by the Sun Valley-based company Smith Optics, followed that.
The following night, the festival migrated to the famous Sun Valley Opera House. Exuberant oohs and aahs could periodically be heard from the street outside of this historic building. Viewers derived particular pleasure from the closing segment of " Eye Trip." That film's finale features the aerial stylings of its cast on a massive jump that was built at Sun Valley this spring, after the closing date of the resort.
Before pressing "play" on "Eye Trip," fans had a special opportunity to meet and greet with the makers of "Say My Name," skier Grete Eliassen and photographer Stan Evans. The all-girl ski movie released this year was unsurprisingly well received. But for some people in the crowd, this was more than merely a ski movie.
"She's an absolute inspiration," said Sarah Kellerman of Eliassen. As a young woman, Kellerman threw javelin at the collegiate level decades ago. Now a tax accountant, the 52-year-old former track athlete drove three hours from her home in Boise, Idaho, to see Eliassen in person.
"What Ms. Eliassen has done with this movie is remind young women everywhere that athletics is for everybody," said Kellerman. "That's a message that they can't ever hear too much of."