Dixie State University is presenting DOCUTAH, the Southern Utah International Documentary Film Festival next month for the fourth year. Multiple venues in southern Utah and Mesquite will screen the 50 films selected by the judges from the 330 submissions. The festival will run for five days starting on September 3.
As a member of one of the groups of screeners I saw some wonderful submissions. Our group screened 30 films including shorts and full-length movies.
We enjoyed learning about the history of the University of Michigan’s Hill Auditorium. It first opened on the Ann Arbor campus 100 years ago. “A Space for Music: A Seat for Everyone” emphasizes the quality of its acoustics. The Hill Auditorium has seen performances by many world famous musical artists over the years. Recently renovations cost $33.5 million. Construction cost $200,000 in 1913. I have added Ann Arbor to my bucket list.
Another film that received high grades from our group, “Ground Operations: Battlefields to Farmlands” tells the stories of how combat veterans heal from the traumas of war by committing themselves to new careers in organic farming and ranching that benefit their communities. The film effectively reveals the strengths of character of these combat vets who are rebuilding their lives by identifying a societal need and taking positive constructive daily actions to meet that challenge.
Two locally produced films made the cut. “Mike’s Migration” is a Dixie State University student project that focuses on a family living and working together in Alaska. “Heart of the Andes” is a short documentary about the work of our own local humanitarian organization, Heartwalk Foundation (heartwalkfoundation.org), founded by Tim Eicher, a university professor, and his wife Penelope, a mental health therapist. Heart Walk has been working for more than 10 years with the native Q’ero people in the Peruvian Andes to help them develop new skills in agriculture, fishing, education, and micro-businesses.
The diversity of this year’s offerings clearly displays the potential of documentary films to educate, inspire, and open the minds of the audience. One theme I see repeated while reviewing the films is the importance and value of focusing on developing our own strengths in the service of others. The ability to see the world through the eyes of another broadens our own life experience.
Emblematic of that life value is the feature film “Get Together Girls” that tells the story of an Italian woman who moved to Kenya to help six former street girls become fashion designers. This film will be screened in the outdoor theater in the Ivins community of Kayenta on Thursday, September 5 in the evening.
The DOCUTAH Facebook site (https://www.facebook.com/DOCUTAH) includes trailers for many of the films. The DOCUTAH web site is docutah.com.
The festival and associated events offer a feast for the mind. Day passes are available for $5.00 and a general all event pass is only $20.00.