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2016 Sundance Film Festival on Thursday's Access Utah

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The 2016 Sundance Film Festival opens in Park City on Thursday. UPR's Sundance Correspondent Steve Smith is in Park City and will join Tom Williams on Thursday's Access Utah to set the scene and tell us about the films he's excited about. Then we'll talk with two filmmakers whose films are showing at Sundance.

Josh Fox's films, "Gasland" and "Gasland II" are credited with galvanizing the anti-fracking movement. "Gasland" was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Film. In his new film, "How To Let Go of the World (and Love All the Things Climate Can't Change)," Fox ruminates on climate change, which he says is the greatest threat our world has ever known.  Traveling to 12 countries on 6 continents, the film acknowledges that it may be too late to stop some of the worst consequences and asks, "What is it that climate change can't destroy?  What is so deep within us that no calamity can take it away?" We'll talk with Josh Fox about climate change, renewable energy, and non-violence.

Otto Bell's film "The Eagle Huntress" (executive produced by Morgan Spurlock) tells the true story of Aisholpan, the 13-year-old eagle huntress from Mongolia. For 2,000 years, the Kazakh people of the Altai region in western Mongolia have practiced a tradition of hunting with golden eagles, whose wingspan can reach up to 7.5 feet wide. 

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Credit Sundance Institute
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Aisholpan, the 13-year-old eagle huntress from Mongolia

Though this practice has traditionally been the domain of men, Aisholpan decides that she wants to become an apprentice hunter after spending her childhood helping her father, a renowned eagle hunter, care for his birds. Under the tutelage and support of her father and her grandfather-and very few others-Aisholpan learns all aspects of falconry, from taming her very own eagle to training for an annual competition, where she will compete against 70 eagle hunters on her quest to gain acceptance.

Tom Williams worked as a part-time UPR announcer for a few years and joined Utah Public Radio full-time in 1996. He is a proud graduate of Uintah High School in Vernal and Utah State University (B. A. in Liberal Arts and Master of Business Administration.) He grew up in a family that regularly discussed everything from opera to religion to politics. He is interested in just about everything and loves to engage people in conversation, so you could say he has found the perfect job as host “Access Utah.” He and his wife Becky, live in Logan.