Events and Highlights from the 2015 Sun Valley Film Festival


Idaho might be well known for its majestic views of towering mountains, sweeping valleys, and meandering rivers, but it’s also known for something a little less natural. The Sun Valley Film Festival might be young, at only four years old, but it’s already shaping up into an independent filmmaker’s festival to be reckoned with. It’s grown each year, showcasing local, and not-so-local, independent filmmakers, industry insiders, and recently, student filmmakers. In the arts and entertainment scene of Idaho, it’s growing past the who’s who of Idaho, and becoming the who’s who of independent films across the country.

While independent films are a huge part of the Sun Valley Film Festival, that’s not all that happens over the five days of the event. This festival offers a unique look behind the scenes with industry insiders, such as writers, directors, and actors. Whether you’re a film buff or an independent filmmaker, you’ll be able to enjoy the candid panels, and the variety of independent films and music.

Film Screenings

Showing the independent films is probably the most notable event at the festival. This year, in 2015, the festival screened a selection of over 60 independent films. These showings featured an extensive mix of films from all across the world, and included world premieres, documentaries, narratives, and short films.

Coffee Talks

This is a unique panel, which offers largely standing room only, and features special guests like Bill Paxton and Bruce Dern (at least in 2015). This panel is free, and the Coffee Talks are incredibly popular. Not only do they showcase some big names (Bruce Dern has been in over 80 different films, and has won several prestigious awards), but they also offer an informal setting for a candid forum with industry insiders. This is a look on the other side of the velvet rope.

Screenwriters Lab

This is a unique event, that’s part discussion, part performance, and part contest. Hosted by Academy Award®-winning writers, there is a screenplay competition. This is a fantastic opportunity for anyone that wants some one-on-one time with people deeply seated in the industry. Finalists have a chance for that meeting, and the winner will be able to watch a scene from their screenplay brought to life.

Saturday Night Awards Bash

Live music is the theme here, with bands brought from all over the country to share their unique style of music at this equally unique festival. The headliner will play at the Awards Bash, and there’s sure to plenty of good times had here.

The Film Lab

This event was new this year, in 2015. It offers an incredibly unique look behind film. It highlights the creative team behind the silver screen, by bringing writer, producer, and director together. The audience is able to interact and join in discussions with these creative teams in a way never before possible.

One Potato Short Screenplay Competition

This event was also new this year. The screenwriter that wins this competition receives a $2,500 stipend. This award goes to helping them film in Idaho. The competition was actually created to help encourage independent filmmakers to shoot their film in Idaho. On top of the stipend, the Sun Valley Film Festival will also help the filmmaker network, by connecting them with other filmmakers, consultants, and producers.

Wild to Inspire

This is the second year this competition has happened, and it’s becoming an annual event. Sponsored by Nat Geo WILD, the Sun Valley Film Festival, and the African Wildlife Foundation, this competition awards one winner international travel. The award is an opportunity to go to Africa, where the winner will document African wildlife for Nat Geo WILD. Through a wide variety of media, such as social media and film, the winner will share their experience with the world and Nat Geo WILD viewers.


This panel is all about digital content. It will showcase content found online, such as digital premieres. It features lively discussion.

Future Filmmakers Forum

This is a wonderful program geared toward middle and high school students. Its unique experience allows students to explore and discover the process behind film. They will learn about filmmaking, submissions, and film festival attendance. The Sun Valley Film Festival will award the best student short film by an Idaho student with a cash prize.

Packed Full

The Sun Valley Film Festival is a growing event, and it’s incredibly popular and well respected. For good reason. It showcases independent films in a way not often done, and allows attendees a glimpse at the behind the scenes from the people that know it best. Each year, the festival gets bigger. They actually added another day to make room for everything that was going on this year. If you love independent films, and you love Idaho, you’ll want to mark the Sun Valley Film Festival on your calendar, and make sure you attend. You’ll see a whole new side of Idaho.

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