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Film festival kicks off during Gathering

Great Basin Film Festival chairman Russ Minter describes the process of organizing the popular event.

ELKO — The Great Basin Film Festival is celebrating 14 years this season. New this year is a film co-sponsored by the 35th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering.

“The Rider” will play at 3 p.m. Jan 31 at Great Basin College Theatre.

People with a National Cowboy Poetry Gathering day pass get in for free. For others the cost is $10 for adults and $7 for students and seniors.

“If you look up any film critic’s best-of list for 2018, ‘The Rider’ will be guaranteed,” GBC Film Festival chair Russ Minter said. “This is a must-see film for anyone close to the cowboy life.”

The documentary follows the journey of a young rodeo rider who suffers a brain injury. His life is turned around as he tries to adjust to a new way of life.

“There are no professional actors, they are real cowboys and they do a great job,” Minter said. “It’s such a compelling story. Even if you are not a cowboy, a rancher or a rodeo fan, the heart of this story can ring true to anybody.”

The remainder of the festival takes place in February following the normal schedule.

“There will be documentary, animated and live-action short films,” Minter said.

Each night the top five films voted by the Academy will be shown at the Western Folklife Center. On these evenings culinary sponsors will be serving appetizers during admission.

“That is our most popular event and tickets are on sale now at the Western Folklife Center,” Minter said. “Our Oscar nights last year had over 100 in attendance. The bar is open and the sponsors provide snacks.”

A special organized committee under the auspices of the GBC Arts and Cultural Enrichment program works hard each year to organize the festival and obtain the rights to show these films locally.

“I have been on the committee for five or six years,” member Justine Stout said. “I joined because I enjoy the kind of films that the festival has consistently brought to Elko over the years. Documentaries, foreign language films, short films and Indie films are all the kind of thing you are not going to be able to find at the local theaters. I like being exposed to thoughts, ideas, cultures and happenings that I never would have known about had I not seen these films. I think it’s important for a small town like this to have access to these kinds of things.”

Minter said he is thankful to all of the sponsors because, while the school gets an educational discount on the price of the films, the screening is still expensive.

The following weekend the festival is showing full-length films “The Great Buster” and “Beautiful Boy.”

“‘The Great Buster’ is a documentary that was written by Peter Bogdanovich about Buster Keaton,” Minter said. “He was a silent film star who did all his own stunts. Some of the things he did were mind-boggling how daring and dangerous they were.”

The film includes current comedians talking about how the actor influenced their own work. There will also be clips of Keaton’s work.

“‘Beautiful Boy’ is a fantastic film that is really about current social events based on a true story about a father and his son who gets addicted on opioids,” Minter said.

GBC Theatre now has a high definition digital projector and a wide projection screen for a superior viewing experience.

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