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In most small towns going to the movies means having to settle for big-budget films and recycled superhero movies at traditional multiplexes. Not that there’s anything wrong with the occasional blockbuster, but sometimes it’s nice to see a film that has a bit more meaning. Park City, of course, has long been at the forefront of helping independent, documentary, and art films shine through the Sundance and Slamdance film festivals. But thankfully, you don’t have to wait for January to roll around to catch an independent or art house film; the Park City Film Series screens amazing films year round—many of them for free.

For those of you who are unfamiliar, the Park City Film Series is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to create community by presenting quality independent, documentary, world, and local cinema. Since its creation by the Park City Arts Council in 1999, the PCFS has continued to bring films and film-related events to Park City/Summit County that would otherwise be unavailable. Thanks to their exceptional programming and community involvement, the PCFS has also been designated an official Sundance Institute Art House Project Theater by the Art House Convergence, and organization that recognizes excellence in community-based cinemas.

"The whole idea of our programming is to create community," says Katherine Wang, PCFS Executive Director. "It's a place that you can hang out with friends and family, but also a way to address cultural and social issues through the cinematic arts." This spirit not only permeates their selection of films, but also the ongoing community programs, including the monthly Books 2 Movies (first Saturday at 4 p.m.), a collaboration with the Park City and Kimball Junction Libraries to get kids hooked on reading by introducing cinematic storytelling, and the Reel Community Series, which presents films in partnership with local nonprofit organizations such as Recycle Utah, the Kimball Art Center, and Friends of Animals – Utah. 

For the first time ever, this year PCFS is joining other art house cinemas across the country in celebrating the legacy of independent theaters as advocates for the cinematic arts, an increasingly important function as our digital world. Each theater will celebrate with their own unique programming. On Sept. 24, PCFS will present a special screening of A Town Called Panic: The Christmas Log & Return to School, two award-winning new specials from the Academy Award®-nominated directors of Ernest & Celestine.  The film will be screened in English at 4 p.m. followed immediately by a French screening at 5:20. A $5 ticket gets you entrance to the film, popcorn, and a back-to-school present if you're a student.

Forget staying in and watching whatever is on Netflix, make a movie date with your family and friends for these upcoming films in the Park City Film Series. Screenings are at the Park City Library's Jim Santy Auditorium. General admission for films is $8 ($7 for students and seniors) unless otherwise noted.

Beyond Measure – Sept. 29 @ 6:30 p.m. – Free 

Presented in collaboration with the Park City Day School, Park City Education Foundation, Park City School District, and Weilenmann School of Discovery. Beyond Measure takes a look at how our school system and education might be transformed if focus was place on student transformation as opposed to rankings or simply learning facts and formulas. The film presentation will be followed by a Q&A.

Captain Fantastic – Sept. 30-Oct. 1 @ 8 p.m. & Oct. 2 @ 6 p.m.

One of last year’s Sundance Film Festival hits, Captain Fantastic about a father who chooses to raise his six children away from society in the Pacific Northwest. When they are forced to leave their self-created paradise to rejoin the outside world questions about ensue about parenting, family, and modern-day America.

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Still from Captain Fantastic starring Viggo Mortensen.

Fantastic Mr. Fox  Oct. 1 @ 4 p.m. – Free

Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr. Fox is the story of one Mr. Fox and his wild-ways of hen heckling, turkey taking and cider sipping, nocturnal, instinctive adventures. The screening is part of the Books 2 Movies series at the library. 

Buddymoon  Oct. 6 @ 6 p.m. 

Winner of the Slamdance 2016 Audience Award, Buddymoon is the story of two friends on the road. When David’s fiancé leaves him just days before the wedding, his relentlessly upbeat best man Flula insists the two guys go on the honeymoon together: a seven-day backpacking trip through the breathtaking mountains of Oregon.

Ruin and Rose – Oct. 7-8 @ 8 p.m. & Oct. 9 @ 6 p.m.  $15

Presented in collaboration with Cole Sport Ruin and Rose is a must watch for lovers of big mountain skiing and riding. Acclaimed writer/director Ben Sturgulewski joins the award-winning team at Matchstick Productions and their two decades of filmmaking expertise to deliver an epic creative vision brought to life by the talents of the world’s top skiers and shot in the otherworldly Skeleton Coast in Namibia.

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Still from the film Ruin & Rose directed by Ben Sturgulewski.

Nocturna – Oct. 8 @ 4 p.m. – Free

Nocturna tells the story of Tim, an orphan boy, if afraid of the dark. When the stars start going out in the sky he begins exploring the world with a new friend, the cat Shepard. The Film will be screened in Spanish as part of the Dual Language Immersion Film Program at the Park City Library and Summit County Library – Kimball Junction. 

Unlocking the Cage – Oct. 27 @ 7 p.m. – Free

Unlocking the Cage is a documentary film chronicling animal rights lawyer Steven Wise as he attempts to break down the legal wall that separates non-human animals from humans. After thirty years of fighting ineffective animal welfare laws, he and his legal team are making history to give animals legal protections. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with Steven Wise and Dr. Lor Marino.

Frankenstein – National Theatre Live – Oct. 30 @ 2 p.m. - $20 ($15 PCFS/FOL members, $10 students with ID) 

Parkites who love Halloween should tune into this sensational presentation of Academy Award® winner Danny Boyle’s production of Frankenstein. The show was a sell-out hit for the National Theatre in 2011 and it’s since been broadcasted to millions of cinemas around the world.

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The Park City Film Series is constantly adding more movies to their programming so make sure to check their website for the latest in what's playing. See you at the movies!

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