- The Orchard Films
Peek Award Screening: Dina
Salt Lake City resident Kim Peek, an autistic savant, provided the inspiration for Barry Morrow's Oscar-winning screenplay for the 1988 film Rain Man. But while Peek died in 2009, he continues to provide inspiration as the namesake for the Utah Film Center's annual award to films and individuals in the filmmaking community working to shift the perception of people with disabilities.
Following in the footsteps of previous winners including Carrie Fisher, Temple Grandin and Roger Ross Williams' documentary Life, Animated, the 2018 Peek Award goes to the documentary Dina and its directors, Antonio Santini and Dan Sickles. Winner of the U.S. Documentary Grand Jury Prize at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, Dina follows Philadelphia area residents Dina Buno and Scott Levin—both people on the autism spectrum—in the weeks leading up to and immediately following their wedding. The unconventional romantic story explores the unique dynamics of their relationship, as well as Dina's history as a survivor of violence and tragedy, as they try to define happiness on their own terms.
One of the best films of any kind of 2017, Dina is being screened for attendees as part of the Peek Award ceremony, presented by Barry Morrow—who permanently loaned his Rain Man Oscar statuette to Salt Lake City—to Santini and Sickles. The co-directors and the film's subject, Dina Buno, also participate in a post-film conversation and audience Q&A, moderated by KUED Channel 7's Mary Dickson. (Scott Renshaw)
Peek Award Screening: Dina @ Rose Wagner Center, 138 W. 300 South, 801-746-7000, March 22, 7 p.m., free, presented with open captions, utahfilmcenter.org
- Steven Gerner via Wikimedia Commons
Holi Festival of Colors
Spring is coming to Utah, and with it, the visiting Festival of Colors, a global gathering filled with mirth, merriment and vibrant sights and sounds. Consider it India's version of a street party, kind of like Mardi Gras but without the alcoholic impairment and questionable behavior. It is instead an opportunity for young and old to join together, celebrate and socialize, while tossing their worries to the wind, bidding goodbye to winter and welcoming a change of season.
In other words, it's time to chill without the chill. Instead of donning coats and jackets as we have for the past few months, participants douse themselves, and each other, with colored (and safe) cornstarch and romp through the festival's decorative grounds. It's a stunning sight—all of it attuned to krishna consciousness—and with music provided by an array of national, international and local musicians. There's also dancing, yoga, vegetarian cuisine, mantras, and even a bit of Bollywood. It's an ideal combination of pure bliss and abandon.
"We repackaged this traditional Indian Festival to bring its spirit and joy to the global community," festival organizer Caru Das says. It is, he claims, the "world's happiest transformational event." As if to prove the point, free hugs are included with the price of admission. That's what we would call squeezing in extra value. (Lee Zimmerman)
Holi Festival of Colors @ Sri Sri Radha Krishna Temple, 311 West 8500 South, Spanish Fork, March 24, 10a.m.-5 p.m.; March 25, 11 a.m.-4 p.m., $6, children 12 and under free, utahkrishnas.org
- Nina Subin
Junot Díaz: Islandborn
"Just because you don't remember a place doesn't mean it's not in you." These crucial words form the backbone of Islandborn, the new book by Junot Díaz, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author best known for The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. But while the new work also deals with a Dominican-American as its main character, it marks something of a departure for Díaz, in that it's his first book for children.
That quote is spoken by the abuela (grandmother) of a young girl named Lola, who emigrated to America with her family from the Dominican Republic at such a young age that she has no memory of it.
When asked by her teacher to draw pictures of her family homeland, she draws on the stories of her family as a way to be transported back to island she was born on.
In an interview with National Public Radio, Díaz described Lola as "an immigrant who came over so young," but is "surrounded by a community that talks endlessly about the island." Diaz explores the complicated history of the Dominican Republic through a journey of self-discovery for Lola about her heritage.
The book is illustrated in mural-like manner, and features the work of Park City resident Leo Espinosa, an award-winning-illustrator and designer from Bogotá, Colombia. Espinosa has worked at the Rhode Island School of Design, and has spoken at venues including our own Leonardo museum.
The King's English Bookshop offers family ticket packages which includes a copy of Islandborn and general admission for seating up to four people. (Benjamin Benally)
Junot Díaz and Leo Espinosa @ Larimer Auditorium at Rowland Hall Upper School, 843 S. Lincoln St., 801-924-2960, Mar. 23, 7 p.m., kingsenglish.com
- Tianyu Culture
Too often, Americans relegate their interest in cultures not their own to an easily compartmentalized time of year: wearing green on St. Patrick's Day, celebrating Mexican heritage on Cinco de Mayo, contemplating African-American contributions during Black History Month, a downtown Greek Festival in September, etc. February marked the Lunar New Year, an occasion for many non-Asians to dabble in Asian cultures, but that doesn't mean it's the only time to explore the rich, expansive history and present-day wonders of China.
Beginning March 23, the Utah State Fairpark hosts Dragon Lights, a unique touring experience celebrating Chinese culture. You might think you know what a cultural heritage festival entails, and indeed this event does feature the requisite food, demonstrations of handicrafts like iron wire weaving and sugar painting, family-friendly activities and more. But the big draw is the inclusion of 39 custom-made illuminated displays—pandas, umbrellas, fanciful gardens, undersea creatures, swans and even massive dragons—on the festival grounds, created by artisans from Zigong, Sichuan in China, bringing an ancient art to spectacular life.
Once you've had a chance to experience these impressive creations, stick around for nightly stage performances demonstrating unique arts like vase balancing, juggling, plate-spinning, Chinese yo-yo and much more, all included in the base admission cost. Get a great head start on your spring and summer outdoor events season with this rain-or-shine presentation, and never let it be said that you let a calendar dictate your cultural curiosity. (SR)
Dragon Lights @ Utah State Fairpark, 155 N. 1000 West, March 23-May 6, 5:30-10 p.m. daily, $12-$50, dragonlightsslc.com