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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Resolved: 8 Epic Adventures For 2015

This is Sunset Arch in Grand Staircase
 © Dave Webb
Happy New Year. We hope 2014 has been a good year for you, and that 2015 is even better. Hope you fill it with epic adventures.

This blog is my last one for That company about to launch some new, bigger, better initiatives and my blog will be discontinued. So, this is my farewell post.

While you won't see my ramblings here, I'll still be out there in the backcountry. Maybe I'll meet you on the trail.

With the economy continuing to improve, and with gas prices falling, 2015 will be a year to travel, enjoy new activities and experience wonderful destinations. Where to go? I'm sure every person's list will be different. Mine will be heavy on hiking, backpacking, boating and fishing.

Here's mine, heavy on hiking, backpacking, boating and fishing. These are adventures I actually plan to enjoy during the coming months.
  • Snowmobile Cedar Mountain, just north of Zion Park, including some trails that overlook park backcountry.
  • Photo safari to The Wave. I've been there once and had a great time. I'd like to shoot it again, now that I'm a better photographer.
  • Backpack Coyote Gulch, in Grand Staircase-Escalante. I've done many hikes in that area but have not yet done this epic multi-day trek.
  • Explore and fish the San Juan arm of Lake Powell. I've ventured into the upper and lower reaches of that arm, but there are many canyon's I've yet to explore. Often, the best fishing on the lake is up that direction.
  • Explore Chaco, Canyon de Chelly and other ancient Native American centers just across the border, along with more the remote ruins in Utah.
  • Find golden trout in the Uinta Mountains. The elusive little fish have been re-introduced into the Uintas and they are doing well.
  • Canyoneer Zion's Subway again. It is one of my all time favorites and I have a few more people I'd like to take there.
  • Photo safari to Yosemite. I love photographing waterfalls and I've heard that park has some dandy's...
I'll work in minor adventures between these epic trips. While I won't be reporting them here, I'll still be posting stuff online.

– Dave Webb

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

How To Do Sundance This Season (Jan 22-Feb 2)

Highlights from last year.
It's not too late! You can still participate in Sundance Film Festival events this season if you act now. But you'll need to book lodging immediately and make plans on how to get the most out of your time there.

The festival website has complete details about “how to do Sundance.”

Lodging in Park City sells out fast but there are always options available in Salt Lake City and nearby communities. The festival is centered in Park City, but many events are held in SLC and some at other venues. It is an easy drive (or bus ride) from SLC to PC.

Plan ahead and learn the best ways to get to festival venues. Use public transportation as much as possible during the festival. Many roads will be closed or jammed and so it is difficult to drive to venues. Winter weather also causes traffic concerns. Buses and shuttles can take you almost everywhere you will want to go.

Bring Your Skis
You come to see film screening. Ok, most people come to try to see celebrities. But the festival events are exciting too. Many events are still open and you can get in, if you work at it.

But don't forget to bring your skis. People often assume the slopes will be overrun during the festival, with some many people in town, but the opposite is true. Most people are in town to party and so there is plenty of room on the slopes.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Utah's Biggest, Baddest New Year's Celebration

Salt Lake City hosts a big year end bash, called EVE, which includes many activities leading up to New Year's Eve, and then fabulous events at multiple venues Wednesday night. See complete details here.

Celebrations will be held at all of our ski resorts, with multiple activities in Park City. Inquire locally for events held in other areas around Utah.

Salt Lake's EVE celebration offers something for everyone. Family-friendly events will be staged at Temple Square and other downtown area. The Deseret News has this article about Temple Square events.

Our friends at the Salt Lake Tribune have this article offering info for people who want a grown up celebration. reports that EVE will feature the largest disco ball in the US.

Some, but not all, events will be free. There will be music from various genres, plenty of food and drink (family-friendly and adult), plus dancing, art exhibits and activities, games, fireworks and other events.

Hope you can join the fun.

Friday, December 26, 2014

'Monster Dump' Brings Fabulous Skiing To Utah Resorts

Night skiing has started at Park City.
A Christmas storm left impressive snow totals at Utah resorts, creating excellent ski conditions, with more snow in the forecast. tracks snow totals and provided the numbers below.

Here are some 48 hour snow totals:
34 inches - Brian Head
20 inches - Snowbird
19 inches - Alta

The next few weeks will bring the best skiing of the year.

Park City has just opened for night skiing.

Utah claims the “Greatest Snow on Earth,” and for good reason. This report talks about the scientific reasons behind the claim.

Avalanche danger is high in backcountry areas. A (Developed ski resorts do control work and so danger is mitigated there.) Utah Avalanche Center reports a skier triggered avalanche in Dutch Draw. It carried and partially buried the skier, but he is apparently recovering and will be ok.

Meanwhile, the ski industry continues to buzz about Vail Resort's plan to combine Park City Mountain Resort and Canyons Resort, creating the biggest ski resort in America. Forbes has this interesting article about the plan. Below are excerpts.

Just like heavyweight boxing, the title of the nation’s largest ski resort has been hotly fought over, debated, and even split between contenders. But those days seem to be over, with the Park City Mountain Resort in Utah ready to assume the undisputed, unified title.

...A $50 million infrastructure project will physically connect Canyons Resort in Park City – currently Utah’s largest – with nearby Park City Mountain Resort (PCMR), which Vail just acquired two months ago. Pending town approvals, the project is slated to start quickly and be completed by next season, immediately creating a snow-covered behemoth spanning more than 7,300-acres, three to four times the size of world class destination resorts like Snowbird, Steamboat or Copper Mountain.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas From

Our friends at posted this fun image.
I'm dreaming of a white Christmas, and that outcome is guaranteed. A major winter storm is bearing down on Utah and will dump heavy snow over most of the state. If you are traveling, take care. If you are skiing, just enjoy. has this great article on what to do in Utah on Christmas Day:

Our ski resorts are open, of course, and you may just bump into Santa and Mrs. Claus.

Our national parks and most state parks are open, and are very beautiful when snow covered. (Zion may even get glazed by this storm.)

If you venture into the backcountry, be aware that avalanche danger will be high on most slopes. Take care.

On Christmas Eve, I enjoy walking through downtown Salt Lake City. Temple Square is aglow with multicolored lights. The square is filled with bustling crowds, and Christmas carols fill the air. It is very beautiful and worth a visit.

Away from Temple Square, many clubs are open and are full of cheerful people.

As I keep going, and the hour grows later, the sidewalks become deserted and a wonderful silence settles over the city. Snow begins to fall, the flakes sparkling as they dance in front of street lights. The snow adds to my feeling of serenity. At this moment, in this place, with silent snow blanketing the city, it is possible for me to believe that some day we may figure out how to create peace on earth.

- Dave Webb

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Battle Plan For Visting Arches National Park

Arches National Park is a geological wonderland and its popularity has grown to the point that parking is often a problem. The park is exploring various options to reduce congestion at key trailheads and parking areas. Meanwhile, there are many things visitors can do to minimize problems and ensure a wonderful experience when visiting the park.

The Moab Area Travel Council provided these tips:

Arches National Park
Visitation grows in Arches National Park. Here are some useful tips to circumvent peak uses of The Windows Section, Devil's Garden, and the trail head parking lot for hiking to the iconic Delicate Arch.

Planning Your Trip
• Park is open 24/7. Use Sunrise/Sunset table to plan visits outside of 10 am to 4 pm peak hours.
• Early morning (sunrise) is always less busy than sunset. To beat the crowds, try entering the park before 8 a.m., though you may encounter groups of early-morning photographers at some destinations.
• Avoid visiting on BUSY Holidays/Weekends.
• Parking for oversize vehicles (RVs, trailers) is extremely limited. Leave oversized vehicles in town, or in the visitor center parking lot. Rent a car.
• Carpool if you can.
• Consider joining a tour for an Arches Park visit.

Where (and how) to Park
• Park in designated areas only.
• Abstain from parking on vegetation
• Park to keep traffic flow clear
• Refrain from blocking traffic waiting to park

BUSY Holidays/Weekends
• Easter week (March 27-April 5 2015)
• Memorial Day (May 23-25 2015)
• Labor Day (September 4-7 2015)
• Utah Education Assoc. (October 15-18 2015)

Arches Park Tour Guides
Adrift Adventures
Moab Adventure Center
Navtec Expeditions
Red River Adventures
Tag-A-Long Expeditions
Windgate Adventures

National Park Fee Free Days
Arches and Canyonlands are free to enter on the following dates.
• January 19 (Martin Luther King Jr. Day)
• February 14-16 (Presidents Day weekend)
• April 18-19 (National Park Week intro)
• August 25 (NPS Birthday)
• September 26 (National Public Lands Day)
• November 11 (Veterans Day)

Monday, December 22, 2014

Behind The Scenes At The World's Best Ski Hotel

Lee Benson has this interesting column in the Deseret News:

In the article he takes an intimate look at Deer Valley's Stein Eriksen Lodge, which was recently named the best ski hotel in the world. Below are excerpts.

Last month, Russ Olsen and his wife, Debi, found themselves in Kitzbuhel, Austria, at the World Ski Awards, aka The Ski Oscars, so Russ could receive, on behalf of Stein Eriksen Lodge, the hotel he manages in Park City, the trophy for best ski hotel in the United States.

That wasn’t totally unexpected. The winners from each country had been tipped off in advance. It was why Russ and Debi were there.

The totally unexpected part came next, when they announced the world’s best ski hotel.

Ela Clark, the British actress who was hosting the show, did the honors, ripping open the envelope and reading … “Stein Eriksen Lodge, Park City, Utah.”

Some 1 million votes were cast to determine the world’s best ski hotel, they told Russ. The ballots were sent worldwide to people involved in the ski, travel and tourism industry, including international travelers, booking agents, hoteliers, suppliers and other ski world connoisseurs. SEL’s win was no fluke. A lot of people had to vote for it to make it No. 1.

Russ knows the history well. He came to Stein Eriksen Lodge in 1986, just two years after it opened next door to the ski runs at Deer Valley resort, which had also just barely opened, boasting the great Norwegian ski champion Stein Eriksen as its director of skiing.

Stein wasn’t the hotel’s owner, but he helped with the design, he brought in his Olympic medals to display in the lobby, he sold the lodge the rights to his name, and as hotel ambassador he was given free run of the place in perpetuity. At 87, he still visits his lodge on a regular basis.

“I was shocked when they called our name,” he (Russ) says, “still am. Who expects that?”

Well, other than Stein Eriksen himself.

“He is our biggest fan,” says Russ. “I remember a day in March a few years ago. It was a beautiful sunny day and Stein came into the hotel after an afternoon of skiing. We were sitting in lounge chairs on the deck, staring at the sun as it was starting to set on the mountain. He said to me, ‘Russ, if we died and went to heaven, it would be a demotion.’ ”

And that was before getting to place the best hotel in the ski world trophy next to Stein’s 1952 Olympic gold medal.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Why Utah is America's Real-Life Jurassic Park

Cleveland-Lloyd is a working quarry, where you
can sometimes watch paleontologists in action.

© Dave Webb
I've pulled the title for this post from this interesting report on It talks about many of the great places in Utah where you can see and learn about dinosaur fossils.

Below I give the introduction from the article. It is worth reading the whole thing.

Exploring North America's greatest dinosaur graveyard

With "Jurassic World," the fourth installment in Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park franchise, set to hit theaters in June 2015, interest in learning about dinosaurs is on the rise. And there's no place in North America with a richer dinosaur legacy than Utah.

The article talks about the famous spots – Dinosaur National Monument, the North American Museum of Ancient Life, the Cleveland-Lloyd Quarry and a few others.

I'll have to do a tour one of these days, get photos and report on the new ones. It does not mention The Utah Field House of Natural History, in Vernal, which is a wonderful spot.

So many recent dinosaur discovers have come out of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, and BLM has some of them displayed at its Big Water Visitor Center. I don't know that anyone has done a good article on that new facility. I'll have to pop down and take some photos.

A new facility is being built in Moab to display and protect some of the area's dinosaur tracks, after the infamous theft of a fossil footprint from a nearby trackway. I'll watch and report on that facility as it opens.

- Dave Webb

Thursday, December 18, 2014

What Happens When A Cow Gets Stuck In A Spectacular Utah Slot Canyon?

Peak-a-Boo Gulch © Dave Webb
A cow did in fact get stuck in one of our most popular slot canyons and, well, the outcome was horrible for all involved. Especially for the cow.

This blog at described a “comedy of errors” that began when a cow became stuck in Peek-a-Boo Gulch, part of the very popular Peek-a-Boo/Spooky Gulch loop off Hole in the Rock Road in Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument.

If you planned to go there anytime soon, don't. Visitation is low in winter but some hardy folks still hike in the area. Hopefully, by spring the mess will be cleaned up.

Cattle graze legally throughout much of the national monument, but are prohibited from Peek-a-Boo and other nearby canyons. Somehow the cow wandered into the area and became lodged in a tight spot in the slot.

The rancher was notified and ranch hands made considerable effort to free the valuable animal. But his efforts failed. When they decided the animal was hopelessly stuck they “put it down.” They then “cut off the head and front quarters,” hoping they could carry out the pieces, but the hind quarters “remained wedged in a narrow passage.”

The ranch hands then “piled wood under the carcass and lit it in hopes the flames would consume enough of the cow that it could be pulled out.” That failed and, in the process, rocks and dirt fell into the canyon and partially covered the animal.

National Monument officials are now trying to decide how to get more of the carcass out. Hopefully, they will find a way before the next flash flood hits. Such floods move boulders and could carry the carcass down into the middle of the canyon.

I've hiked Peak-a-Boo many times and it is easy to see how a cow could get stuck. Area ranchers know they need to keep their animals away, but mistakes do occur.

I expect it will be cleaned up soon and hiking conditions will be good come spring.

– Dave Webb

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Volunteers Needed For Audubon Christmas Bird Count At Lake Powell

Photo courtesy Glen Canyon NRA
Glen Canyon National Recreation Area (which includes Lake Powell) is seeking volunteers to help with the annual Audubon bird count on January 5, 2015.

Glen Canyon provided the news release below:

Glen Canyon Recruits Volunteers for 2015 Christmas Bird Count

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area is currently recruiting volunteers for the Audubon Christmas Bird Count on January 5, 2015.

During this annual citizen-science event new birders will be paired with more experienced individuals, making this a great way to learn about the birds of Glen Canyon.

The event begins at 7:30 a.m.and lasts until approximately 4:00 p.m.Volunteers will meet at park headquarters in Page, Arizona located at 691 Scenic View Drive (off of Highway 89), to sign in and receive their location assignments. Volunteers will have the opportunity to survey birds in a variety of land and water-based locations. Birdwatchers should be prepared for exposure to winter weather conditions during this outdoor event. Please bring warm clothing, lunch, water, and birding equipment such as binoculars and a bird guide book if possible.

Holiday traditions abound this time of year, and the long-standing tradition of the Audubon Christmas Bird Count has supported science for 115 years. Participants offer significant contributions to science and bird conservation during this global count. Additionally, free commemorative t-shirts will be provided to volunteers by the Glen Canyon Natural History Association.

To learn about the birds of Glen Canyon, visit

Questions about the annual count may be directed to John Spence at 928-608-6267.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Utah Launches Massive Effort To Stop Wildlife Poaching

Utah is blessed with abundant wildlife, and wildlife watching is a popular pastime. Winter is a great time to observe animals because they often congregate at lower elevations where they are easier to see. If done responsibly, winter wildlife watching can be enjoyed without negatively impacting the animals.

Unfortunately, some folks aren't satisfied to observe, photograph or even harvest animals legally during prescribed hunting seasons. Poaching and the wanton destruction of wild animals has long been a problem. Just today KSL TV carried this report on deer poached in SE Utah.

Now, Utah's Division of Wildlife Resources is launching a massive effort to curb poaching. The agency provided the news release below.

DWR launches massive patrol effort

Officers need your help
This winter is not a good time to try to kill a mule deer illegally in Utah.
DWR officer Josh Carver shows what wildlife officers are trying to stop this winter: the illegal killing of mule deer in Utah.
DWR officer Josh Carver shows what wildlife officers are trying to stop this winter: the illegal killing of mule deer in Utah.
Photo by Josh Carver.
Conservation officers with the Division of Wildlife Resources are focusing massive patrol efforts on ranges on which deer congregate in the winter. Officers are conducting the patrols for one reason: to protect Utah's mule deer from poachers.
Tony Wood, chief of the DWR's Law Enforcement Section, says winter is the time of year when deer congregate on ranges at lower elevations. As large groups of deer bunch together, they provide an enticing target for poachers. But the deers' behavior helps wildlife officers too: it allows officers to zero in on the areas where poaching is most likely to occur.
"If there's an area in Utah that attracts mule deer in the winter," Wood says, "we're watching it."
Wood encourages you to get involved.
"This winter," he says, "as you travel to areas where deer congregate, make sure 1-800-662-3337 is programmed into your cell phone. That's our Turn-in-a-Poacher hotline number. If you see anything suspicious, call us. The hotline is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week."
Patrol efforts
Wood says DWR officers are doing the following this winter:
  • Patrolling winter ranges at night. Officers are conducting these patrols on land and from the air.
  • Conducting saturation patrols that put several DWR officers on the same piece of winter range at the same time.
Wood says winter range patrols are underway across Utah. The patrols will continue until the deer shed their antlers this spring.
Poachers take a big toll
So far in 2014, wildlife officers have investigated the illegal killing of 152 mule deer in Utah.
Most of the deer were bucks. The antlers on seven of the bucks were big enough to place the deer in a trophy category.
"If you're a hunter," Wood says, "you would have been thrilled to take any of these bucks. Poachers took that chance away from you."
The monetary value of the animals to Utah's citizens is $114,000.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Locale Magazine: It’s Super Hip to Skip to Salt Lake this Holiday Break

Locale Magazine serves the Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego areas. The magazine has this interesting article on Salt Lake City. It recognizes Salt Lake is a cool place to ski, but says the city offers more than that. Below is the title, sub-title and then a couple excerpts.

It’s Super Hip to Skip to Salt Lake this Holiday Break

#SaltLake is trending—trending in a really big way.
  • Salt Lake is one of America’s five new foodie cities
  • Three of its mountains are in the 2015 Top Ski Resorts—the Snowbird, Alta and Solitude.
  • It has also been named the least stressed city.
  • Furthermore, it is home to the number one College for Skiers—the University of Utah.
The inside scoop on this Utah outpost? Salt Lake has a casual, community vibe, though it is a healthy, mid-sized metropolis. The stunning Wasatch Mountain backdrop houses eight world-class resorts in an hour’s drive of downtown. It seems colonies of artisans from food, wine, and the arts now call Salt Lake home so they too can enjoy the outdoors and friendly lifestyle.

...With a bevy of direct flights from Orange County, San Diego, and LAX, you can be on the mountain with a wide grin enjoying the famed Utah powder by lunch. Be sure to put some of these places in your itinerary the next time to take a trip to Salt Lake for an unforgettable trip. Enjoy!

The article goes on to talk about where to stay, where to eat, where to drink and what to do. It is worthreading.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Travel & Leisure Names 50 Incredible Places To Travel In 2015

Travel+Leisure is out with a list of 50 incredible destinations world-wide – places that are “changing the travel map.”

Utah is represented on the list, or course. But surprise, for our national parks. It's the Wasatch Mountains and embedded ski resorts that make the list.

Below we give an except from the article and then a summary list.

“The world is getting smaller, but the chances of having an extraordinary new experience are only increasing. We’ve identified 50 standout destinations, based on industry news and trends, with input from contributing writers, A-List travel agents, and our new local experts. These are the places changing the travel map, whether it’s an emerging arts hub in Germany or a quiet stretch of sand in the Caribbean.”

Here are the first 20 destinations from the list. (No 1 is the introduction.)

2 - Fez, Morocco
3 - Catskills, NY
4 - Rotterdam, Netherlands
5 - Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic

6 - Wasatch Mountains, Utah

The new year brings new restaurants, high-speed chairs, and lifts, including one that connects Canyons to PCMR, making it the largest ski resort in the U.S. And the industry is buzzing over a proposal that seems headed for approval called One Wasatch, which would link all seven ski areas in a European-style mega-network spanning 18,000 acres and 100 lifts. The project will have major tourism implications, introducing a new flock of riders to what locals proudly declare on their car license plates: the greatest snow on earth.”

7 - Istanbul
8 - Chengdu, China
9 - Milan
10 - Prince Edward County, Canada
11 - Oman
12 - Mekong River Region
13 - Valletta, Malta
14 - Chile
15 - Tanzania
16 - Houston
17 - Western Ireland
18 - Leipzig, Germany
19 - Mozambique
20 – Cuba
21 - Nicaragua

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Skiing Through An Avalanche

Eric Hjorleifson sets off an avalanche on a big mountain pillow line
and attempts to ski through it.
Every winter people die in avalanches in Utah. Most victims are skiing or snowmobiling in backcountry areas. Avalanche control work is done regularly at developed skiresorts and along highways and so those areas are safe. People venturing away from these areas need to be knowledgeable about risks and follow safety procedures.

The video at right shows skier Eric Hjorleifson actually skiing through an avalanche. Hjorleifson survived. Sometimes others don't. This is serious stuff.

Be aware of current conditions if you are heading into the mountains. The Utah Avalanche Center provides excellent general information and specific forecasts. Study the info there.

If you are new to backcountry winter sports, take a class. Go with a guide. Learn about dangers. Acquire proper equipment and learn to use it.

Snow sports can be incredible enjoyable. Many times families enjoy these activities together. They can be relatively safe if you use common sense.

I hope to see you in the backcountry.

Stay safe and warm.

– Dave Webb

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Four Season Travel Guide To Bryce Canyon National Park

Visitors often describe the Bryce Canyon scenery as some of the most impressive on earth, and it only gets better during winter. The pink hoodoos are stunning when dusted with white. The pine trees on the amphitheater rim are gorgeous when flocked. has this interesting article giving detailed info on Bryce Canyon, with tips for each season. Beautiful photos illustrate the article. Below are excerpts.

(The Bryce Canyon Winter Festival is held annual over President's Day weekend - February 14-16, 2015.)

Excerpts from the article:

T’S LIKELY YOU’VE SEEN PHOTOS of the bright, colorful hoodoos of Bryce Canyon National Park — those ancient rock spires shooting up hundreds of feet toward the sky — but there’s no substitute for walking among them...

Bryce Canyon is open to visitors 24/7, every day of the year. Its Visitor Center — where you can obtain park information and backcountry permits, view exhibits and a film, browse / purchase books and maps, and clean yourself up if you’re road tripping and camping — is open daily except for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.

The fun doesn’t stop in winter. With a fresh coating of fine Utah powder, the landscape takes on a whole new aura, and it’s time to break out the snowshoes and skis. There are some ranger-led snowshoe hikes in which gear is provided; you can also bring your own or rent in nearby Bryce Canyon City (on Highway 63 just north of the park entrance).

The article also gives detailed info on park trails.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Utah's Best Snowmobile Trails

Utah's snowmobile season is now kicking into gear. Our friends at Beaver Creek Lodge are already offering guided trips and others will be opening up during the next few days.

Beaver Creek is located in the far northern part of Utah, near Bear Lake and the Utah/Idaho border. That area was blessed with early snow and so the trails are accessible a bit earlier than normal. But most of our snowmobile areas open about Christmas time.

If you are looking for a guided trip or rental machines, these businesses will take good care of you. The video is courtesy of Beaver Creek Lodge and shows some of the fun.

If you want to do it yourself, here are links to info about my favorite trails.
The trails I mention above are spread throughout the state. Logan Canyon, as noted, is about as far north as you can get in Utah. Highway 150, the Mirror Lake Highway, is also in northern Utah.

The Strawberry area is farther south, approaching the center portion of our state.

Cedar Mountain is just east of Cedar City, in southern Utah. Some of the trails on Cedar Mountain overlook the Zion Park area.

The East For is also in southern Utah, just west of Bryce Canyon.

Each of these areas is unique and beautiful in its own way. It's time to get out the sleds.

Monday, December 08, 2014

Two Stunning Balloon Events In Red Rock Country

Two hot air balloon events will take place in Utah's red rock country during the next few weeks, attracting enthusiasts from around the word, and providing amazing images for spectators. One will be held in Monument Valley and the other in nearby Bluff.

Annual Monument Valley Balloon Event
December 12-14, 2014
Tribal Park entrance will be closed for the duration of the morning launch from - 7:00am – 11:00am. If you plan to attend the Balloon Event you will need to take a shuttle from the Visitor Center.

There will be morning launches each day, plus an art contest, Youth Day activities and a Family Fun day.

16th Annual Bluff International Balloon Festival
January 17-19, 2014
Bluff, Utah

Sunrise fly ins will be held in Bluff on Friday and Saturday, and in Valley of the Gods on Sunday. There will also be a southwest food cookoff, children's performances and other events.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

5 National Parks in 7 Days

Hickman Bridge in Capitol Reef NP has an interesting article with this intriguing title:

With five parks in relative close proximity, Utah is one of the few places where you can successfully take such a trip. In fact, if you venture just barely across state lines, you can take in eight spectacular parks in one trip (Utah's Mighty 5 plus Grand Canyon, Great Basin and Mesa Verde).

In the article, writer Christy Karras describes their itinerary and adventures. Below are excepts. The article has an interesting sidebar where readers vote:

Which Utah national park would be your first stop?
  • Zion 31%
  • Arches 26%
  • Bryce Canyon 23%
  • Capitol Reef 11%
  • Canyonlands 9%
Here are quotes from the article:

Zion: ...I’m struck by the sheer scale of everything. We’re surrounded by vast folded cliffs and mesas horizontally striped in orange, pink, and white.

...I’m already wishing we’d carved out time for a backpacking trip.

Bryce: Zion is a canyon, but Bryce is an amphitheater, a plateau that breaks off into millions of pink, orange, and white spires, crinkles, and waves. A road runs its length, with ample pullouts and overlooks.

Capitol Reef: Bill says it’s as if a giant dinosaur is pushing up from under the surface. Water and wind have shaped the landscape into ridges, canyons, and spires. You can appreciate this both from afar and up close via world-class hikes.

Canyonlands: Canyonlands is, as much as anything else, a great place to go to feel lost. Think 127 Hours lost.

I look at the map and have an idea: Let’s take the Shafer Trail back to Moab! It’s a shortcut!...

Arches: Just before sunset on our last full day in Utah, we make the must-do climb up a sandstone slope to Delicate Arch, the state’s favorite natural symbol. We tiptoe to the edge of the drop-off directly behind the 45-foot-tall foot span and peer over the edge. As the sun dips toward the far horizon, the colors burn and the rock surface seems to glow behind a small crowd parked here to watch it.

It’s been a great week.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Sundance Institute Announces Films For 2015 Festival

The annual Sundance Film Festival will be held Jan 22 – Feb 1, in Park City, Salt Lake City and nearby venues. If you want to attend, you need to make arrangements now for lodging and other activities. See the festival website for detailed information.

Sundance filed this news release yesterday:


Park City, UT — Sundance Institute announced today the films selected for the U.S. and World Cinema Dramatic and Documentary Competitions and the out-of-competition NEXT <=> section of the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, January 22 to February 1 in Park City, Salt Lake City, Ogden and Sundance, Utah. The Festival is the centerpiece of the year-round public programs for the Institute, which also hosts 24 residency labs and grants more than $2.5 million to independent artists each year.

Robert Redford, President & Founder of Sundance Institute, said, "The work of independent artists inevitably reflects the state of our culture and the times in which we live. Their stories are often irreverent, challenging, compelling and unexpected, and not only possess the power to move and hopefully inspire audiences, but also to speak to our shared humanity."

Keri Putnam, Executive Director of Sundance Institute, said, "Independent artists are embracing diverse forms of storytelling – from feature film to New Frontier to episodic content. In response to their risk-taking spirit, we continue to evolve our Festival and other programs to seek out the best ways to support original and inventive storytellers."

John Cooper, Director of the Sundance Film Festival, said, "The selections for our 2015 Festival will take audiences on a wild ride of emotional extremes. With approaches ranging from comedic to dramatic, genre to documentary, experimental to short, independent filmmakers are bravely illuminating new opportunities for understanding and empathy."

For the 2015 Festival, 118 feature-length films were selected, representing 29 countries and 45 first-time filmmakers, including 19 in competition. These films were selected from 12,166 submissions, including 4,105 feature-length films and 8,061 short films. Of the feature film submissions, 2,016 were from the U.S. and 2,089 were international. 103 feature films at the Festival will be world premieres.

In addition to those announced today, the Festival presents feature-length films in the Spotlight, Park City at Midnight, New Frontier, Sundance Kids, Premieres and Documentary Premieres sections. Those announcements, as well as selections for the Short Film section, a new Special Events section and offscreen programming, are forthcoming.

This year on Day One, January 22, 2015, the Festival will feature one of each type of film shown at the Festival: a U.S. documentary, U.S. dramatic, international documentary and international dramatic, as well as one shorts program.

Presenting the world premieres of 16 narrative feature films, the Dramatic Competition offers Festivalgoers a first look at groundbreaking new voices in American independent film.

Advantageous / U.S.A. (Director: Jennifer Phang, Screenwriters: Jacqueline Kim, Jennifer Phang) — In a near-future city where soaring opulence overshadows economic hardship, Gwen and her daughter, Jules, do all they can to hold on to their joy, despite the instability surfacing in their world. Cast: Jacqueline Kim, James Urbaniak, Freya Adams, Ken Jeong, Jennifer Ehle, Samantha Kim.

The Bronze / U.S.A. (Director: Bryan Buckley, Screenwriters: Melissa Rauch, Winston Rauch) — In 2004, Hope Ann Greggory became an American hero after winning the bronze medal for the women's gymnastics team. Today, she's still living in her small hometown, washed-up and embittered. Stuck in the past, Hope must reassess her life when a promising young gymnast threatens her local celebrity status. Cast: Melissa Rauch, Gary Cole, Thomas Middleditch, Sebastian Stan, Haley Lu Richardson, Cecily Strong. DAY ONE FILM

The D Train / U.S.A. (Directors and screenwriters: Jarrad Paul, Andrew Mogel) — With his 20th reunion looming, Dan can't shake his high school insecurities. In a misguided mission to prove he's changed, Dan rekindles a friendship with the popular guy from his class and is left scrambling to protect more than just his reputation when a wild night takes an unexpected turn. Cast: Jack Black, James Marsden, Kathryn Hahn, Jeffrey Tambor, Mike White, Kyle Bornheimer.

The Diary of a Teenage Girl / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Marielle Heller) — Minnie Goetze is a 15-year-old aspiring comic-book artist, coming of age in the haze of the 1970s in San Francisco. Insatiably curious about the world around her, Minnie is a pretty typical teenage girl. Oh, except that she's sleeping with her mother's boyfriend. Cast: Bel Powley, Alexander Skarsgård, Christopher Meloni, Kristen Wiig.

Dope / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Rick Famuyiwa) — Malcolm is carefully surviving life in a tough neighborhood in Los Angeles while juggling college applications, academic interviews, and the SAT. A chance invitation to an underground party leads him into an adventure that could allow him to go from being a geek, to being dope, to ultimately being himself. Cast: Shameik Moore, Tony Revolori, Kiersey Clemons, Blake Anderson, Zoë Kravitz, A$AP Rocky.

I Smile Back / U.S.A. (Director: Adam Salky, Screenwriters: Amy Koppelman, Paige Dylan) — All is not right in suburbia. Laney Brooks, a wife and mother on the edge, has stopped taking her meds, substituting recreational drugs and the wrong men. With the destruction of her family looming, Laney makes a last, desperate attempt at redemption. Cast: Sarah Silverman, Josh Charles, Thomas Sadoski, Mia Barron, Terry Kinney, Chris Sarandon.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl / U.S.A. (Director: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, Screenwriter: Jesse Andrews) — Greg is coasting through senior year of high school as anonymously as possible, avoiding social interactions like the plague while secretly making spirited, bizarre films with Earl, his only friend. But both his anonymity and friendship threaten to unravel when his mother forces him to befriend a classmate with leukemia. Cast: Thomas Mann, RJ Cyler, Olivia Cooke, Nick Offerman, Connie Britton, Molly Shannon.

The Overnight / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Patrick Brice) — In an attempt to acclimate to Los Angeles, a young couple spends an increasingly bizarre evening with the parents of their son's new friend. Cast: Adam Scott, Taylor Schilling, Jason Schwartzman, Judith Godrèche.

People, Places, Things / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: James C. Strouse) — Will Henry is a newly single graphic novelist balancing being a parent to his young twin daughters and teaching a classroom full of college students, all the while trying to navigate the rich complexities of new love and letting go of the woman who left him. Cast: Jemaine Clement, Regina Hall, Stephanie Allynne, Jessica Williams, Gia Gadsby, Aundrea Gadsby.

Results / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Andrew Bujalski) — Two mismatched personal trainers' lives are upended by the actions of a new, wealthy client. Cast: Guy Pearce, Cobie Smulders, Kevin Corrigan, Giovanni Ribisi, Anthony Michael Hall, Brooklyn Decker.

Songs My Brothers Taught Me / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Chloé Zhao) — This complex portrait of modern-day life on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation explores the bond between a brother and his younger sister, who find themselves on separate paths to rediscovering the meaning of home. Cast: John Reddy, Jashaun St. John, Irene Bedard, Taysha Fuller, Travis Lone Hill, Eléonore Hendricks.

The Stanford Prison Experiment / U.S.A. (Director: Kyle Patrick Alvarez, Screenwriter: Tim Talbott) — This film is based on the actual events that took place in 1971 when Stanford professor Dr. Philip Zimbardo created what became one of the most shocking and famous social experiments of all time. Cast: Billy Crudup, Ezra Miller, Michael Angarano, Tye Sheridan, Johnny Simmons, Olivia Thirlby.

Stockholm, Pennsylvania / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Nikole Beckwith) — A young woman is returned home to her biological parents after living with her abductor for 17 years. Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Cynthia Nixon, Jason Isaacs, David Warshofsky.

Unexpected / U.S.A. (Director: Kris Swanberg, Screenwriters: Kris Swanberg, Megan Mercier) — When Samantha Abbott begins her final semester teaching science at a Chicago high school, she faces some unexpected news: she's pregnant. Soon after, Samantha learns that one of her favorite students, Jasmine, has landed in a similar situation. Unexpected follows the two women as they embark on an unlikely friendship. Cast: Cobie Smulders, Anders Holm, Gail Bean, Elizabeth McGovern.

The Witch / U.S.A., Canada (Director and screenwriter: Robert Eggers) — New England in the 1630s: William and Katherine lead a devout Christian life with five children, homesteading on the edge of an impassable wilderness. When their newborn son vanishes and crops fail, the family turns on one another. Beyond their worst fears, a supernatural evil lurks in the nearby wood. Cast: Anya Taylor Joy, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie, Harvey Scrimshaw, Lucas Dawson, Ellie Grainger.

Z for Zachariah / U.S.A. (Director: Craig Zobel, Screenwriter: Nissar Modi) — In a post-apocalyptic world, a young woman who believes she is the last human on Earth meets a dying scientist searching for survivors. Their relationship becomes tenuous when another survivor appears. As the two men compete for the woman's affection, their primal urges begin to reveal their true nature. Cast: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Margot Robbie, Chris Pine.

Sixteen world-premiere American documentaries that illuminate the ideas, people, and events that shape the present day.

3½ MINUTES / U.S.A. (Director: Marc Silver) — On November 23, 2012, unarmed 17-year-old Jordan Russell Davis was shot at a Jacksonville gas station by Michael David Dunn. 3½ MINUTES explores the aftermath of Jordan's tragic death, the latent and often unseen effects of racism, and the contradictions of the American criminal justice system.

Being Evel / U.S.A. (Director: Daniel Junge) — An unprecedented, candid portrait of American icon Robert "Evel" Knievel and his legacy.

Best of Enemies / U.S.A. (Directors: Morgan Neville, Robert Gordon) — Best of Enemies is a behind-the-scenes account of the explosive 1968 televised debates between the liberal Gore Vidal and the conservative William F. Buckley Jr., and their rancorous disagreements about politics, God, and sex.

Call Me Lucky / U.S.A. (Director: Bobcat Goldthwait) — Barry Crimmins was a volatile but brilliant bar comic who became an honored peace activist and influential political satirist. Famous comedians and others build a picture of a man who underwent an incredible transformation.

Cartel Land / U.S.A., Mexico (Director: Matthew Heineman) — In this classic Western set in the 21st century, vigilantes on both sides of the border fight the vicious Mexican drug cartels. With unprecedented access, this character-driven film provokes deep questions about lawlessness, the breakdown of order, and whether citizens should fight violence with violence.

City of Gold / U.S.A. (Director: Laura Gabbert) — Pulitzer Prize-winning critic Jonathan Gold casts his light upon a vibrant and growing cultural movement in which he plays the dual roles of high-low priest and culinary geographer of his beloved Los Angeles.

Finders Keepers / U.S.A. (Directors: Bryan Carberry, Clay Tweel) — Recovering addict and amputee John Wood finds himself in a stranger-than-fiction battle to reclaim his mummified leg from Southern entrepreneur Shannon Whisnant, who found it in a grill he bought at an auction and believes it to therefore be his rightful property.

Hot Girls Wanted / U.S.A. (Directors: Jill Bauer, Ronna Gradus) — Hot Girls Wanted is a first-ever look at the realities inside the world of the amateur porn industry and the steady stream of 18- and 19-year-old girls entering into it.

How to Dance in Ohio / U.S.A. (Director: Alexandra Shiva) — In Columbus, Ohio, a group of teenagers and young adults on the autism spectrum prepare for an iconic American rite of passage — a spring formal. They spend 12 weeks practicing their social skills at a local nightclub in preparation for the dance.

Larry Kramer in Love and Anger / U.S.A. (Director: Jean Carlomusto) — Author, activist, and playwright Larry Kramer is one of the most important and controversial figures in contemporary gay America, a political firebrand who gave voice to the outrage and grief that inspired gay men and lesbians to fight for their lives. At 78, this complicated man still commands our attention.

Meru / U.S.A. (Directors: Jimmy Chin, E. Chai Vasarhelyi) — Three elite mountain climbers sacrifice everything but their friendship as they struggle through heartbreaking loss and nature's harshest elements to attempt the never-before-completed Shark's Fin on Mount Meru, the most coveted first ascent in the dangerous game of Himalayan big wall climbing.

Racing Extinction / U.S.A. (Director: Louie Psihoyos) — Academy Award-winner Louie Psihoyos (The Cove) assembles a unique team to show the world never-before-seen images that expose issues surrounding endangered species and mass extinction. Whether infiltrating notorious black markets or exploring humans' effect on the environment, Racing Extinction will change the way you see the world.

(T)ERROR / U.S.A. (Directors: Lyric R. Cabral, David Felix Sutcliffe) — (T)ERROR is the first film to document on camera a covert counterterrorism sting as it unfolds. Through the perspective of *******, a 63-year-old Black revolutionary turned FBI informant, viewers are given an unprecedented glimpse of the government's counterterrorism tactics, and the murky justifications behind them.

Welcome to Leith / U.S.A. (Directors: Michael Beach Nichols, Christopher K. Walker) — A white supremacist attempts to take over a small town in North Dakota.

Western / U.S.A., Mexico (Directors: Bill Ross, Turner Ross) — For generations, all that distinguished Eagle Pass, Texas, from Piedras Negras, Mexico, was the Rio Grande. But when darkness descends upon these harmonious border towns, a cowboy and lawman face a new reality that threatens their way of life. Western portrays timeless American figures in the grip of unforgiving change.

The Wolfpack / U.S.A. (Director: Crystal Moselle) — Six bright teenage brothers have spent their entire lives locked away from society in a Manhattan housing project. All they know of the outside is gleaned from the movies they watch obsessively (and recreate meticulously). Yet as adolescence looms, they dream of escape, ever more urgently, into the beckoning world.

Twelve films from emerging filmmaking talents around the world offer fresh perspectives and inventive styles.

Chlorine / Italy (Director: Lamberto Sanfelice, Screenwriters: Lamberto Sanfelice, Elisa Amoruso) — Jenny, 17, dreams of becoming a synchronized swimmer. Family events turn her life upside down and she is forced move to a remote area to look after her ill father and younger brother. It won't be long before Jenny starts pursuing her dreams again. Cast: Sara Serraiocco, Ivan Franek, Giorgio Colangeli, Anatol Sassi, Piera Degli Esposti, Andrea Vergoni. World Premiere

Chorus / Canada (Director and screenwriter: François Delisle) ­— A separated couple meet again after 10 years when the body of their missing son is found. Amid the guilt of losing a loved one, they hesitantly move toward affirmation of life, acceptance of death, and even the possibility of reconciliation. Cast: Sébastien Ricard, Fanny Mallette, Pierre Curzi, Genevieve Bujold. World Premiere

Glassland / Ireland (Director and screenwriter: Gerard Barrett) — In a desperate attempt to reunite his broken family, a young taxi driver becomes entangled in the criminal underworld. Cast: Jack Reynor, Toni Collette, Will Poulter, Michael Smiley. International Premiere

Homesick / Norway (Director: Anne Sewitsky, Screenwriters: Ragnhild Tronvoll, Anne Sewitsky) — When Charlotte, 27, meets her brother Henrik, 35, for the first time, two people who don't know what a normal family is begin an encounter without boundaries. How does sibling love manifest itself if you have never experienced it before? Cast: Ine Marie Wilmann, Simon J. Berger, Anneke von der Lippe, Silje Storstein, Oddgeir Thune, Kari Onstad. World Premiere

Ivy / Turkey (Director and screenwriter: Tolga Karaçelik) — Sarmasik is sailing to Egypt when the ship's owner goes bankrupt. The crew learns there is a lien on the ship, and key crew members must stay on board. Ivy is the story of these six men trapped on the ship for days. Cast: Nadir Sarıbacak, Özgür Emre Yıldırım, Hakan Karsak, Kadir Çermik, Osman Alkaş, Seyithan Özdemiroğlu. World Premiere

Partisan / Australia (Director: Ariel Kleiman, Screenwriters: Ariel Kleiman, Sarah Cyngler) — Alexander is like any other kid: playful, curious and naive. He is also a trained assassin. Raised in a hidden paradise, Alexander has grown up seeing the world filtered through his father, Gregori. As Alexander begins to think for himself, creeping fears take shape, and Gregori's idyllic world unravels. Cast: Vincent Cassel, Jeremy Chabriel, Florence Mezzara. World Premiere

PRINCESS / Israel (Director and screenwriter: Tali Shalom Ezer) — While her mother is away from home, 12-year-old Adar's role-playing games with her stepfather move into dangerous territory. Seeking an escape, Adar finds Alan, an ethereal boy that accompanies her on a dark journey between reality and fantasy. Cast: Keren Mor, Shira Haas, Ori Pfeffer, Adar Zohar Hanetz. International Premiere

The Second Mother / Brazil (Director and screenwriter: Anna Muylaert) — Having left her daughter, Jessica, to be raised by relatives in the north of Brazil, Val works as a loving nanny in São Paulo. When Jessica arrives for a visit 13 years later, she confronts her mother's slave-like attitude and everyone in the house is affected by her unexpected behavior. Cast: Regina Casé, Michel Joelsas, Camila Márdila, Karine Teles, Lourenço Mutarelli. World Premiere

Slow West / New Zealand (Director: John Maclean, Screenwriters: John Maclean, Michael Lesslie) — Set at the end of the nineteenth century, 16-year-old Jay Cavendish journeys across the American frontier in search of the woman he loves. He is joined by Silas, a mysterious traveler, and hotly pursued by an outlaw along the way. Cast: Michael Fassbender, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Rory McCann, Ben Mendelsohn, Brooke Williams, Caren Pistorius. World Premiere

Strangerland / Australia, Ireland (Director: Kim Farrant, Screenwriters: Fiona Seres, Michael Kinirons) — When Catherine and Matthew Parker's two teenage kids disappear into the remote Australian desert, the couple's relationship is pushed to the brink as they confront the mystery of their children's fate. Cast: Nicole Kidman, Joseph Fiennes, Hugo Weaving, Lisa Flanagan, Meyne Wyatt, Maddison Brown. World Premiere

The Summer of Sangaile / Lithuania, France, Holland (Director and screenwriter: Alanté Kavaïté) — Seventeen-year-old Sangaile is fascinated by stunt planes. She meets a girl her age at the summer aeronautical show, nearby her parents' lakeside villa. Sangaile allows Auste to discover her most intimate secret and in the process finds in her teenage love, the only person that truly encourages her to fly. Cast: Julija Steponaitytė, Aistė Diržiūtė. World Premiere. DAY ONE FILM

Umrika / India (Director and screenwriter: Prashant Nair) — When a young village boy discovers that his brother, long believed to be in America, has actually gone missing, he begins to invent letters on his behalf to save their mother from heartbreak, all the while searching for him. Cast: Suraj Sharma, Tony Revolori, Smita Tambe, Adil Hussain, Rajesh Tailang, Prateik Babbar. World Premiere

Twelve documentaries by some of the most courageous and extraordinary international filmmakers working today.

The Amina Profile / Canada (Director: Sophie Deraspe) — During the Arab revolution, a love story between two women — a Canadian and a Syrian American — turns into an international sociopolitical thriller spotlighting media excesses and the thin line between truth and falsehood on the Internet. World Premiere

Censored Voices / Israel, Germany (Director: Mor Loushy) — One week after the 1967 Six-Day War, renowned author Amos Oz and editor Avraham Shapira recorded intimate conversations with soldiers returning from the battlefield. The Israeli army censored the recordings, allowing only a fragment of the conversations to be published. Censored Voices reveals these recordings for the first time. World Premiere

The Chinese Mayor / China (Director: Hao Zhou) — Mayor Geng Yanbo is determined to transform the coal-mining center of Datong, in China's Shanxi province, into a tourism haven showcasing clean energy. In order to achieve that, however, he has to relocate 500,000 residences to make way for the restoration of the ancient city. World Premiere

Chuck Norris vs Communism / United Kingdom, Romania, Germany (Director: Ilinca Calugareanu) — In 1980s Romania, thousands of Western films smashed through the Iron Curtain, opening a window to the free world for those who dared to look. A black market VHS racketeer and courageous female translator brought the magic of film to the masses and sowed the seeds of a revolution. World Premiere

Dark Horse / United Kingdom (Director: Louise Osmond) — Dark Horse is the inspirational true story of a group of friends from a workingman's club who decide to take on the elite "sport of kings" and breed themselves a racehorse. World Premiere

Dreamcatcher / United Kingdom (Director: Kim Longinotto) — Dreamcatcher takes us into a hidden world seen through the eyes of one of its survivors, Brenda Myers-Powell. A former teenage prostitute, Brenda defied the odds to become a powerful advocate for change in her community. With warmth and humor, Brenda gives hope to those who have none. World Premiere

How to Change the World / United Kingdom, Canada (Director: Jerry Rothwell) — In 1971, a group of friends sails into a nuclear test zone, and their protest captures the world's imagination. Using rare, archival footage that brings their extraordinary world to life, How to Change the World is the story of the pioneers who founded Greenpeace and defined the modern green movement. World Premiere. DAY ONE FILM

Listen to Me Marlon / United Kingdom (Director and screenwriter: Stevan Riley, Co-writer: Peter Ettedgui) — With exclusive access to previously unheard audio archives, this is the definitive Marlon Brando cinema documentary. Charting his exceptional career and extraordinary life away from the stage and screen, the film fully explores the complexities of the man by telling the story uniquely in Marlon's own voice. World Premiere

Pervert Park / Sweden, Denmark (Directors: Frida Barkfors, Lasse Barkfors) — Pervert Park follows the everyday lives of sex offenders in a Florida trailer park as they struggle to reintegrate into society, and try to understand who they are and how to break the cycle of sex crimes being committed. International Premiere

The Russian Woodpecker / United Kingdom (Director: Chad Gracia) — A Ukrainian victim of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster discovers a dark secret and must decide whether to risk his life by revealing it, amid growing clouds of revolution and war. World Premiere

Sembene! / U.S.A., Senegal (Directors: Samba Gadjigo, Jason Silverman) — In 1952, Ousmane Sembene, a Senegalese dockworker and fifth-grade dropout, began dreaming an impossible dream: to become the storyteller for a new Africa. This true story celebrates how the "father of African cinema," against enormous odds, fought a monumental, 50-year-long battle to give Africans a voice. World Premiere

The Visit / Denmark, Austria, Ireland, Finland, Norway (Director: Michael Madsen) — "This film documents an event that has never taken place…" With unprecedented access to the United Nations' Office for Outer Space Affairs, leading space scientists and space agencies, The Visit explores humans' first encounter with alien intelligent life and thereby humanity itself. "Our scenario begins with the arrival. Your arrival." World Premiere

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Pure, bold works distinguished by an innovative, forward-thinking approach to storytelling populate this program. Digital technology paired with unfettered creativity promises that the films in this section will shape a "greater" next wave in American cinema. Presented by Adobe.

Bob and the Trees / U.S.A., France (Director: Diego Ongaro, Screenwriters: Diego Ongaro, Courtney Maum, Sasha Statman-Weil) — Bob, a 50-year-old logger in rural Massachusetts with a soft spot for golf and gangsta rap, is struggling to make ends meet in a changed economy. When his beloved cow is wounded and a job goes awry, Bob begins to heed the instincts of his ever-darkening self. Cast: Bob Tarasuk, Matt Gallagher, Polly MacIntyre, Winthrop Barrett, Nathaniel Gregory. World Premiere

Christmas, Again / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Charles Poekel) — A heartbroken Christmas tree salesman returns to New York, hoping to put the past year behind him. He spends the season living in a trailer and working the night shift, until a mysterious woman and some colorful customers rescue him from self-destruction. Cast: Kentucker Audley, Hannah Gross, Jason Shelton, Oona Roche. North American Premiere

Cronies / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Michael Larnell) — Twenty-two-year-old Louis doesn't know whether his childhood friendship with Jack will last beyond today. Cast: George Sample III, Zurich Buckner, Brian Kowalski. World Premiere

Entertainment / U.S.A. (Director: Rick Alverson, Screenwriters: Rick Alverson, Gregg Turkington, Tim Heidecker) — En route to meeting with his estranged daughter, in an attempt to revive his dwindling career, a broken, aging comedian plays a string of dead-end shows in the Mojave Desert. Cast: Gregg Turkington, John C. Reilly, Tye Sheridan, Michael Cera, Amy Seimetz, Lotte Verbeek. World Premiere

H. / U.S.A., Argentina (Directors and screenwriters: Rania Attieh, Daniel Garcia) — Two women, each named Helen, find their lives spinning out of control after a meteor allegedly explodes over their city of Troy, New York. Cast: Robin Bartlett, Rebecca Dayan, Will Janowitz, Julian Gamble, Roger Robinson. World Premiere

James White / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Josh Mond) — A young New Yorker struggles to take control of his reckless, self-destructive behavior in the face of momentous family challenges. Cast: Chris Abbott, Cynthia Nixon, Scott Mescudi, Makenzie Leigh, David Call. World Premiere

Nasty Baby / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Sebastian Silva) — A gay couple try to have a baby with the help of their best friend, Polly. The trio navigates the idea of creating life while confronted by unexpected harassment from a neighborhood man called The Bishop. As their clashes grow increasingly aggressive, odds are someone is getting hurt. Cast: Sebastian Silva, Tunde Adebimpe, Kristin Wiig, Reg E. Cathey, Mark Margolis, Denis O'Hare. World Premiere

The Strongest Man / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Kenny Riches) — An anxiety-ridden Cuban man who fancies himself the strongest man in the world attempts to recover his most prized possession, a stolen bicycle. On his quest, he finds and loses much more. Cast: Robert Lorie, Paul Chamberlain, Ashly Burch, Patrick Fugit, Lisa Banes. World Premiere

Take Me to the River / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Matt Sobel) — A naive California teen plans to remain above the fray at his Nebraskan family reunion, but a strange encounter places him at the center of a long-buried family secret. Cast: Logan Miller, Robin Weigert, Josh Hamilton, Richard Schiff, Ursula Parker, Azura Skye. World Premiere

Tangerine / U.S.A. (Director: Sean Baker, Screenwriters: Sean Baker, Chris Bergoch) — A working girl tears through Tinseltown on Christmas Eve searching for the pimp who broke her heart. Cast: Kitana Kiki Rodriguez, Mya Taylor, Karren Karagulian, Mickey O'Hagan, Alla Tumanyan, James Ransone. World Premiere

The Sundance Film Festival®
The Sundance Film Festival has introduced global audiences to some of the most groundbreaking films of the past three decades, including Whiplash, Boyhood, Rich Hill, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Fruitvale Station, Little Miss Sunshine, sex, lies, and videotape, Reservoir Dogs, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, An Inconvenient Truth, Precious and Napoleon Dynamite, and through its New Frontier initiative has showcased groundbreaking media works by artists and creative technologists including Chris Milk, Doug Aitken, Palmer Luckey, Klip Collective and Nonny de la Pena. The Festival is a program of the non-profit Sundance Institute®. 2015 Festival sponsors to date include: Presenting Sponsors – HP, Acura, SundanceTV and Chase Sapphire Preferred®; Leadership Sponsors – Adobe, Airbnb, Grey Goose® Vodka, LensCrafters and Southwest Airlines; Sustaining Sponsors – Blundstone Australia Pty Ltd, Canada Goose, Canon U.S.A., Inc., Chobani, LLC, Omnicom, Stella Artois® and VIZIO. Sundance Institute recognizes critical support from the Utah Governor's Office of Economic Development, and the State of Utah as Festival Host State. The support of these organizations helps offset the Festival's costs and sustain the Institute's year-round programs for independent artists.

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