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Utah's Damn These Heels festival debuting several never-before-seen films

Ash Hoyle, director of programming for the Damn These Heels film festival, speaks during a Zoom interview on Wednesday, July 7, 2021.

Ash Hoyle, director of programming for the Damn These Heels film festival, speaks during a Zoom interview on Wednesday, July 7, 2021. (Zoom)



SALT LAKE CITY — After going digital-only last year, Utah's queer film festival Damn These Heels returns this year with a handful of never-before-seen films.

The festival's name comes from the idea that you can gain empathy and a new perspective by putting yourself in someone else's shoes — or their heels, according to director of programming Ash Hoyle.

The festival started continues through Sunday, July 18. A total of 25 short films and 25 features will be available during the festival, and many can be viewed on demand from anywhere in the world.

"There's really something for everybody," Hoyle said. "There really is such a huge amount, a kaleidoscope of perspective, which we're really excited about."

Hoyle said festival organizers had tons of projects to choose from as they were selecting films. It was inspiring to see so much work still being created even during the pandemic, he added.

"It was exciting still that artists were so resilient and still found so much meaning and so much to say in a time like this," Hoyle said.

The festival's two world premieres are "The Letter," a short film about letters, and "True Mother," an Israeli short about a custody battle between two mothers. The festival is also presenting the North American premieres of three more shorts: "Personals," "Talk Soon" and "Torch Song," and will present a sneak preview screening of "Sediments," a Spanish documentary about six transgender women.

Most of the films will be available to stream worldwide via the festival's video on demand platform, though some will be restricted to Utah or the U.S. only, according to Hoyle.

Providing a digital option not only adds flexibility for people who aren't comfortable going to theaters while COVID-19 is still around, but it also makes the festival more accessible for people who might have physical barriers to getting into theaters, Hoyle said. Travel expenses can be another barrier for film festivals, so the digital option solves that problem, too, he added.

"We've seen that we actually have a wider reach beyond just Salt Lake and even beyond just Utah, so being able to open up our doors digitally beyond that is really exciting," Hoyle said.

Here are three other film festivals taking place around Utah for the rest of 2021:

DOCUTAH International Documentary Film Festival

St. George

Nov. 1-6

docutah.com

The DOCUTAH International Documentary Film Festival is in its 12th season this year and focuses on documentary filmmaking. The festival is part of Dixie State University and gives film students an opportunity to work with filmmakers.

Red Rock Film Festival

Cedar City

Oct. 18-24

redrockfilmfestival.com

The Red Rock Film Festival promises a serene environment for watching films that "portray the human race in a positive light," according to its website.

Tumbleweeds Films for Kids

Online only

utahfilmcenter.org/tumbleweeds

Utah Film Center organizes the Tumbleweeds Film Festival for kids. Several Tumbleweeds events happened during the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. However, three children's movie programs are now available to stream on-demand through Tumbleweeds in conjunction with the New York International Children's Film Festival. The three separate programs are available to stream through July 31 and cost $3.99 each.

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