University News

Recognizable Personalities and Current Issues Both Features at this year's Thunderbird Film Festival

Published: May 26, 2004 | Author: SUU Communication Department | Category: Academics

There are many recognizable stars in this year's film selections of the Southern Utah University’s Thunderbird International Film Festival (TIFF). The opening film, "In the Daytime, the Stars will Shine," is a musical documentary following the son of British glam-rock superstar, Marc Bolan, as he returns to England to discover his heritage after his father’s tragic death, and being raised in America.

A second film, "Rats & Bullies," is a documentary dealing with the currently-prominent issue of youth rivalry. Rats & Bullies is about a 14-year old girl in Canada who kills herself rather than "rat out" the "mean girls" who had been bullying her. And, "A Pioneer Miracle" tells the true story of a young Mormon pioneer girl whose life is saved by a miracle, teaching her a lesson about faith and forgiveness.

Besides its attention to timely issues, Thunderbird sets itself apart in the film festival circuit other reasons, too. Foremost on the list is its system of submission breakdown. Divisions are delineated by skill level: Student, Master Thesis, First Film and Professional. Categories include: Action, Comedy, Documentary, Drama and Open Genre. Thirty minutes is the breaking point between Short and Long.

Mariam Arthur, founder of TIFF, explains, “The breakdowns are designed to give all filmmakers a chance to be recognized for their talent and so as not to compare apples to oranges. We have a strong educational emphasis and want to encourage new filmmakers who show promise, as well as showcase professional non-studio films.”

The Thunderbird Festival is one of few festivals centering on family films. Arthur points out that while Thunderbird loves submissions for young children, it also seeks films that teenagers will want to see together with their families. “The rule of thumb is no gratuitous content,” Arthur states. “Some people assume since we are located in southern Utah that we are a Mormon festival. Thunderbird supports films from all cultures. I was amazed to find out that one of our winners (‘Grandfather’s Birthday’) made it to the top ten for an Oscar nomination.”

Films are suitable for the whole family and are "content coded" so families can make choices about what is appropriate for the ages of children in their family. No R-rated-type films are part of the Thunderbird Film Festival. As of Memorial Day Weekend, a complete "Family and Teacher's Guide" containing information about the films, listed in order of topic/subject matter, will be available at the Festival headquarters, Best Western El Rey, as well as the Iron County Visitor's Center, and online at

TIFF ’04 is screening 28 films. Four of these, on 35 mm, will be shown at the Cedar Twin Theater. The rest of the films will show at the SUU Sharwan Smith Theatre on a state-of-the-art digital projection system.

Tickets are $10 for each screening, which contain more than one film. A Moviemania Pass can be purchased for $50 for access to all films throughout the entire Festival.

Individual and family memberships can be purchased for significant discounts. For more info on tickets, visit the website, call 435-586-7861, or email

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