Skip to main content

Cottonwood Heights Journal

Filmgoers enjoy documentaries, a golden eagle visit and free popcorn at Cottonwood Heights film festival

Jan 31, 2023 02:49PM ● By Jolene Croasmun

Miles, Kaysie and Shannon Frantz excited to watch two documentaries at the Cottonwood Heights film festival. (Jolene Croasmun/City Journals)

Cottonwood Heights sponsored a free film festival in January that featured two documentary films that were from previous Sundance Film Festivals.

Christine Mikell, who was a past city councilmember, came up with the idea of a film festival eight years ago. “I have been blessed to be able to see these films at Sundance, so when I became a councilmember we scheduled the film festival but then Covid hit and it was postponed,” Mikell said.

The pandemic shutdown caused the festival to be rescheduled three times. Finally, in January, it happened with the showing of two documentaries: “The Eagle Huntress” followed by “Waste Land.”

The show was held in the auditorium of the Butlerville Middle School and started with a presentation from HawkWatch International. Debbie Peterson from HawkWatch International brought her golden eagle, Chrysaetos, also known as Chrys, and told the crowd interesting facts about golden eagles.

Peterson and Chrys first took the stage with Chrys wearing a hood. Peterson removed his hood and Chrys stayed perched on her arm. Peterson said, “This eagle is about 22 years old and could live to over 50 years in captivity.” Peterson said that males are much smaller than females.

Chrys came to HawkWatch International with an injured wing. His injury was too extreme and his wing never healed correctly so Chrys could not be released into the wild. He will live the rest of his life in captivity.

Chrys made small squeaking noises during the presentation. “The sound Chrys was making was just him vocalizing and that meant the eagle was happy and comfortable in this setting,” Peterson said.

Peterson added, “Golden eagles have very dog-like personalities and bald eagles have cat-like personalities because bald eagles are very difficult to train and golden eagles are more willing to be trained.”

Peterson explained that in the documentary, “The Eagle Huntress,” the hunting eagles were all females and much larger than the male eagle like Chrys.

“The Eagle Huntress” was shown after HawkWatch International finished their presentation. This documentary was at Sundance in 2016 and follows the story of a Mongolian girl that wants to continue in her family's tradition of becoming an eagle hunter. The only problem is that she is the first female in the sport and faces fierce objections from the male dominated eagle hunting community in Mongolia.

The second documentary “Waste Land” was featured at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival and  follows Brazilian artist Vik Muniz through an emotional journey in the world’s largest landfill located outside of Rio de Janeiro. Muniz photographed people over three years that inhabited this “trash city” and how they created art out of the trash.

The Frantz family from Cottonwood Heights attended the film festival. They had a special interest in the festival and the power of documentaries.

Elementary school student Kaysie Frantz was determined to share her excitement with the community. “I went to the city council of Cottonwood Heights, I wanted them to do a film festival. It would be a good thing for kids to go and watch educational stuff,” she said.

Kaysie’s mother Shannon Frantz said that Kaysie recently watched a documentary “Eye of the Pangolin” that taught her about pangolins and it was impactful for her daughter. “Kaysie was making the case to the city council that documentaries are profoundly important to the community to learn about things,” her mom said.

Kaysie enjoyed the “Eagle Huntress” and said, “Yes, I liked that the girl would not quit even after they tried to stop her from becoming an eagle hunter.” For the next film festival, she’d like to see them show “Eye of the Pangolin.”

Kaysie’s older brother Miles was also there to enjoy the film festival. “I’m excited about the documentary ‘Waste Land,’” Miles said.

Tables were set up in the lobby with information and snacks for those in attendance.

Leanne Hodges with the Salt Lake County ZAP and Salt Lake County Arts and Culture was at a table to help administer the Arts and Economic prosperity survey. “This survey collects data on arts and cultural events and the economic impact they have on the communities so that there can be more funding for future events,” Hodges said.

The festival was free and it included free popcorn, candy and bottled water during intermission.