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For the creatives of the Sun Valley Film Festival, 'It takes a valley.'

Sun Valley Film Festival
Candice Pate (upper right) is the executive director and Teddy Grennan (right center) is the founder of the Sun Valley Film Festival.

In 2013, Oscar winner Jodie Foster looked out at the modest audience of Ketchum’s NexStage theater and said, “Remember this.” She was being honored at the still-emerging Sun Valley Film Festival.

Indeed, much has changed for SVFF. In fact, the NexStage doesn’t exist anymore. In its place is the considerably larger Argyros, where the festival has since hosted Clint Eastwood, Gwyneth Paltrow and plenty of other Oscar winners.

And now, after a two-year pause, film lovers are preparing for a bit of that “star shine” to be cast on the “valley of the sun” once again.

“We're in a place now like it's an emergence. We want to come together…in this magical Sun Valley,” said festival executive director Candice Pate.

“We have this adage: ‘It takes a valley,’” said festival founder Teddy Grennan.

Grennan and Pate visited with Morning Edition host George Prentice to preview the 11th edition of the Sun Valley Film Festival.

“It’s raining stars.”

Read the full transcript below:

GEORGE PRENTICE: It is Morning Edition on Boise State Public Radio News. Good morning. I'm George Prentice. Two years ago, right about this time, a good many people were all set to travel to Sun Valley for the much anticipated Sun Valley Film Festival. But then…, well, COVID 19 gave the phrase “spoiler alert” a whole new meaning. Among the things we confirmed: waiting for something can indeed be rewarding. And the 2022 edition of the Sun Valley Film Festival just may offer a level of anticipation that probably even the planners couldn't have hoped for. So, let's talk about that. Here they are. Candice Pate is executive director of the Sun Valley Film Festival. Teddy Grennan is the founder of the festival.


TEDDY GRENNAN: Good morning. Glad to be here. Thanks for having us back.

PRENTICE: Can we talk about your home for a couple of minutes? Sun Valley and Ketchum, outside of Seattle, early on became almost the center of spikes of COVID infections. And we were really worried. And then, especially caregivers, started doing the right thing. And we’ve begun to emerge from that two years later.

PATE: Having to cancel six days before.... two years ago, was devastating, exhausting, awful. Only to realize we had no choice… and then to sort of reignite things. We did a virtual one last year, which worked fine. But then, we started planning for this year, in person. I remember we were on a call in January… we were on a staff call in January… when the news came in that Sundance was having to go virtual. And we were like, “Not again.” And we kind of banded together and made a pact: “I think this is going to work out. Let's just keep planning.” And we're in a place now where it's like a reemergence. People are like,” Let me at it. I want to come together…being in this magical Sun Valley place and sharing these stories.” People are hungering for it… and we are so thrilled that it seems to have worked out that we're able to present it for them.

GRENNAN: People are ready to come out. The filmmakers…like Candy just mentioned, this Sundance thing was a giant drag for them, obviously. And we understand that pain, as producers of our festival. But it's the filmmakers. Those are the guys and women who get the worst of it. You know, they spend all this time making a film… you know how hard it is… and they want to share it with their audience. And Sundance is Sundance…missing that opportunity. So, our programing is so excited. We've got a partner, Jackson Jets.. We're bringing… we invited every single feature filmmaker to town. Not a lot of other film festivals have that ability, and we are able to do that this year. And it's a big deal for us to have the filmmakers come do the Q&A and all that. So that's been a huge development that Candy and I have been working on for the last three years, bringing them to town.

PRENTICE: Let's talk for a moment, because I've got to check this box, and that is stars….

PATE: It's raining stars.

PRENTICE: I am asked time and again,  and so I've got to ask you: How do you get Woody Harrelson and Amy Poehler and Liev Schreiber to come to Idaho?

GRENNAN: So we have this adage: “It takes a valley.” And I'll back it up with Gwyneth Paltrow. When she came a couple of years ago, that was Candace's relationship with a dear friend of the festivals: Hillary and Harry Weekes. And it’s Hillary asking, “Hey, Candy, would it be fun if Gwyneth… Gwynny…came to town this year? And Candy is like, “That would be great.” And when she came to town …it was a blast. So Bobby Farrelly, who's a good friend of the festival, and he and I got a beer at Grumpy's and a burger, and he's like, “Hey, I'm just cutting this film with Woody Harrelson. Would it be fun to have him come for the festival?” Really? “Yes, Bobby, it would be super fun if Woody Harrelson would come.”. So it literally it's like that's you know, it's this valley, it's people leaning in and helping. That's literally how we're able to do this. It's personal connections. Friends of the festival. Amy’s coming up. She's bringing her family up to do a ski trip. She's friends with some friends of ours also. And then.,,,there’s “Outer Banks.”

PATE: Yeah, well, there's a personal relationship there as well, so we're thrilled to get those guys coming up.

PRENTICE: And full disclosure?

PATE: We were all down in Barbados together.

PRENTICE: And of course, that’s “Outer Banks” on Netflix.

GRENNAN: And his husband, Josh, is the co-creator, showrunner, writer…the big cheese on the “Outer Banks.” And they love him, and they love Candy. They're like a family.

PRENTICE: And the cast is coming?

GRENNAN: Candy was, do you guys want to come? Yes. So they're all coming up, you know, part of the tribe.

PRENTICE: And Liev Schreiber, right?

PATE: Super exciting. We had the film. We've known about that for a while, but we managed to get him to come up as well. And he'll be doing a Coffee Talk with a certain someone on Thursday morning.

PRENTICE: Can you talk about that connection, though? This is a film based on a Hemingway story.

PATE: Across the River and Into the Trees, and it's an adaptation. And Liev’s character is a Hemingway character. And with the ties of Sun Valley and Hemingway… coming here to socialize, to fish, to share in the arts… and having it be his final resting place… being able to premiere this film, and have Liev come… just reminds folks about Sun Valley's long, deep ties to creatives… and then bringing it forward for a new generation, I think is really special.

GRENNAN: Robert McClain is the producer…they did it in Italy….

PRENTICE: In Venice?

GRENNAN: Yeah. Have you seen any stills of it

PRENTICE: I haven't. I've only read about it even effortlessly.

GRENNAN: I mean, it looks old Hollywood. It's gorgeous, but it's an amazing production.

PRENTICE: The biggest surprise for people who have not attended is access. I'm as close to Amy Poehler or Clint Eastwood or Jodie Foster as I am to you. I'm standing in line for coffee… in back of Mr. Eastwood… who is getting a French roast to go.

PATE: You know, if you want to come up and get a pass… or even go to one of the free things…you are interacting with these creatives, this talent, on a very one on one level. So, to hear you play that back for me, it just warms my heart, because that's a big piece of what we're trying to build.

GRENNAN: It's also part of the Valley. That's why our friends…hey, I am very comfortable asking my superstar friend to come because of what you just described.  That's the vibe is. Yeah, it's not too serious, and that's how we're able to get people to come out.

PRENTICE: We're short on time, but I want to talk about who I consider to be a superstar. And that is Dr. Nathalie Douge, who is the centerpiece of the film, The First Wave, a National Geographic film that you'll be showcasing. And they embedded in a New York hospital during the first wave of COVID 19. And Dr. Dougei is coming to the Sun Valley Film Festival. I am gob smacked over that.

PATE: I love that, truly.

GRENNAN: National Geographic has an annual award called The Further, and we've celebrated different filmmakers and people in that, and they wanted to bring in Dr. Douge. And we feel very honored and blessed to share her story. And we're going to present that story.

PRENTICE: And I think that's going to be a really personal moment for all of us, because we look at this through our own lens. How are you not emotional? And then you see this woman who… she and her colleagues…they pulled us through the trenches. And it's a phenomenal film.

PATE:  We're excited to be able to share it. That's a free one at the community library.

PRENTICE: And it's free.

PATE: And it's free. Well, we want to get as much exposure for this incredible story and this amazing woman as we possibly can.

GRENNAN: So we're really lucky. We feel really lucky this year, and especially to be back.

PRENTICE: I'll see you in Sun Valley.

PATE: We can't wait.

GRENNAN: Can't wait. Thanks, George. Thanks for having us.

Find reporter George Prentice on Twitter @georgepren

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