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Sun Valley Film Festival to Offer Provocative Documentaries, Coffee Talks with Stars
Sunday, March 26, 2023


Emilio Estevez will be on hand to discuss “The Way,” a movie he made starring himself and his father Martin Sheen.

“Deep Rising” will expose the machinations of a secretive organization extracting metals from the deep seafloor. And Ketchum cinematographer Bob Poole will pull off the wraps on the most recent elephant footage he’s shot for National Geographic at the 2023 Sun Valley Film Festival.

The festival kicks off Wednesday, March 29, and runs through Sunday, April 2.

This year’s festival features 14 Idaho premieres of award-winning films recently screened at such festivals as Cannes, Sundance, Venice and SXSW. Filmmakers will field questions and answers after 19 of this year’s screenings

Bob Poole will discuss getting footage of the National Geographic series “Secrets of the Elephants.” Estevez will field questions about “The Way” about a man who walks the Camino de Santiago following the death of his son on the journey. And Sophie Thatcher will be in attendance at “Yellowjackets” about former soccer players trying to piece back together their lives following a plane crash in the wilderness.

Here’s a quick look at what you need to know about this year’s festival:


The festival kicks off at 5 p.m. Wednesday March 29, at The Argyros with “Wild Life.” Directed by “Free Solo” directors E. Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin, it’s about two conservationists fighting to preserve one of the last wild places on earth. A Q&A with Producer Bob Eisenhardt follows.

The closing film is “Surrounded” at 4:30 p.m. Sunday, April 2 at the Argyros. Director Anthony Mandle and Producer Jason Berman will hold a Q&A following the showing. The film follows a freedwoman and former Buffalo Soldier who must disguise herself as a man as she travels west to claim a gold mine.


These free talks open to the public are held at 10 a.m. in The Argyros. Coffee will be provided by Ulu Coffee.

  • Friday, March 31—Nina Yang Bongiovi, producer of “Fruitvale Station” and “Fancy Dance,” which will screen at this year’s festival at 8 p.m. Friday, March 31. Bongiovi is this year’s winner of Variety’s Creative Impact in Producing Award.
  • Saturday, April 1—Emilio Estevez, the Pioneer Award winner. Estevez has starred in such movies as “The Outsiders” and “The Breakfast Club.” And he’s written and directed such movies as “Bobby.”
  • Sunday, April 2—Josh Brolin, the festival’s Vision Award Honoree. Brolin has appeared in such films as “The Goonies,” “American Gangster,” “Wall Street,” “Men in Black 3,” and “No Country for Old Men.”


    There are several free events open to the public, in addition to the three Coffee Talks.

  • The Rising Star Party honoring Sophie Thatcher will start at 9 p.m. Thursday, March 30, at The Casino.
  • “Yellowjackets,” the hour-long film about a team of high school soccer players who survive a plane crash in the northern wilderness, will be screened at 1:30 p.m. Friday, March 31 at The Argyros.
  • ”The Way,” starring Martin Sheen as a pilgrim on the Camino de Santiago, will be shown at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, April 1, at The Argyros. It will include a Q&A with Emilio Estevez.
  • The Screenwriters Lab presented by Variety will be held at 4 p.m. Saturday, April 1 in the Green Room at the Bailey Studio in The Argyros. Variety’s Todd Gilchrist and Academy Award-winning screenwriter Will McCormack will talk with “Fancy Dance” co-writers Erica Tremblay and Miciana Alise about all things screenwriting. Though open to the public, passholders will be given priority access.
  • National Geographic’s “Secrets of the Elephants” will be shown at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, April 1, at The Argyros with a Q&A featuring Ketchum cinematographer following.
  • Actor Johnny Sequoyah will announce the winner of The Sun Valley Junior Film Competition highlighting the work of high school students at 11:30 a.m. Sunday, April 2, at The Argyros. All are welcome for a reception after the films in the Bailey Studio, which has been turned into a Green Room during the festival.


    “A Tender Cut,” about a guy who strives to prove his own worth by eating a 72-ounce steak, was shot in Shoshone and Picabo. It features local actors Andrew Alburger, Bill Nagel, Kathy Wygle, Karen Nelson, Steve d’Smith and Melodie Taylor-Mauldin, along with co-producer Halsey Pierce.

    It will be shown at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, April 1, at the Sun Valley Opera House as part of the festival Idaho Shorts.

    Other Idaho shorts shown at that time include:

  • “The Good Boots,” Matthew Clark and Dwayne Blackaller’s short about brothers rediscovering each other over the cremation of their father.
  • “Shortcuts” revolves around two people who get locked out of their car enroute to their grandmother’s funeral.
  • “Idaho Babe” profiles Harriet “Babe” Drake Hanson who ran the Sawtoooth Lodge in Grandean, Idaho, in the early 1900s.
  • “Hot Springs” is a dark comedy about agruop of friends who are surprised by an old lady in a hot springs.
  • “Nose Goes” is a short comedy by Boise filmmaker Collin Insley,
  • “A Parent” is based on a true story about a woman who sets out to celebrate her recently deceased mother’s birth only to have her father’s online dating profile get in the way.


  • National Geographic will present “A Small Light” producers Tony Phelan and Joan Rater talking about the true story of Miep Gies who hid Otto Frank’s family from the Nazis during World War II at 11:30 a.m. Thursday, March 30, at Festival Headquarters. Signature drinks and bites will be served.
  • Ketchum cinematographer Bob Poole will describe how he captured breathtaking moments in the wild for National Geographic’s four-part documentary series “Secrets of the Elephants” at 11:30 a.m. Friday, March 31 at Festival Headquarters. Drinks and bites included.
  • Variety’s Todd Gilchrist will moderate a conversation with Variety’s 10 Producers to Watch Panel at 4 p.m. Friday, March 31, at Festival Headquarters.


  • Patron’s Opening Party at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 29, at Festival Headquarters.
  • Rising Star Party celebrating Sophie Thatcher at 9 p.m. Thursday, March 30, at The Casino. Open to the public but passholders will get priority.
  • Pioneer Party at 9 p.m. Friday, March 31, at Whiskey’s with Stella Artios on the house and a DJ in honor of Pioneer Honoree Emilio Estevez.
  • Sun Valley Film Festival Awards Bash at 10 p.m. Saturday, April 1, at Whiskey’s with Stella Artios on the house and the music of indie rock band Blair Gun.
  • Bloody Mary Wrap Party at 11:30 a.m. at Sunday, April 2, at Festival Headquarters.


Passes range from $500 for a Festival Pass that offers access to films, parties, panels and Festival Headquarters to the Patron Pass that also includes an invitation to the coveted Vision Dinner honoring Josh Brolin at the Roundhouse Restaurant, a commemorative festival jacket gift bag and a $1,250 tax deduction.

There also is a $200 Film Pass that offers prioritized access to Coffee Talks and other special events, and a $75 Student Pass for high school and college students that offers admission to five films, the Screenwriters Lab and prioritized access to Coffee Talks and other special events.

Passes can be picked up at the Box Office at The Argyros in Ketchum beginning Tuesday, March 28. Passholders are given priority access over ticketholders but should arrive 30 minutes prior to the film.


People can buy individual ticket for all screenings online at  Tickets may also be purchased at the box office, and tickets will be available before movies at The Argyros and Sun Valley Opera House on a first-come-first serve basis as seats are available. Tickets cost $15, cash only.

SUN VALLEY FILM FESTIVAL HEADQUARTERS: 200 N. Main St. in Serva Peruvian Cuisine building.


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