When local river rafting guide Peter Lefebvre recommended “The Colorado” for the Grand County Public Library’s free film series, Meg Flynn, the library’s head of adult services, agreed the movie would be an excellent choice for the Moab community.
“We were excited to (screen it) given we’re the only town in Utah along the Colorado River,” Flynn said. “It’s a musical tribute; an artistic take on the river and the people, and places it affects.”
The New York Times described “The Colorado” film as a “visually captivating and unsettling” 90-minute documentary. Actor and film narrator Mark Rylance talks about the river’s history and ecology, including prehistoric settlements, European exploration, dam-building, agriculture, migration and climate change.
Flagstaff, Arizona, author, educator and longtime river rafting guide Christa Sadler was contacted by filmmaker Murat Eyuboglu to write a book to accompany the film. Eyuboglu joined Sadler on two river trips through the Grand Canyon, where he filmed some of the footage. Both the film and the book look at nine episodes of seminal importance regarding the river and the landscape, she said.
“We call this a documentary but it’s not your usual documentary,” Sadler said. “The film is art as much as a documentary. There’s a little narration. It relies on images and music written specifically for the film. The book takes everything discussed or implied in the film and goes further.”
The film’s music and images make it “kind of a love song to the Colorado,” Sadler said.
Following the Aug. 16 film screening at Star Hall is a panel discussion with Sadler, Lefebvre, author Roy Webb, and Sara Porterfield, who has studied the river’s history from a global perspective.
Sadler’s book is a “coffee table” book that could also be used as a textbook for its informative text and graphs, she said. It will be for sale at the event, and also available at Back of Beyond Books, 83 N. Main St.
One of the sections in the film, and in the book, is about John Wesley Powell and his vision for water use in the West, Sadler said. The one-armed Civil War veteran famously led 10 men in four boats nearly 1,000 miles down the Colorado River, through uncharted canyons, in 1869.
“For anyone in the West, water will be a defining issue in our future — it’s happening now,” Sadler said. “This river, this is the place that people look to see what’s happening with water in the West. It supports 40 million people: more than a tenth of the population in the United States rely on the Colorado River. That is extraordinary. The film will add to your experience and knowledge of the river and our relationship with water in the West.”
“The Colorado” will be the final screening in a collaboration between the Grand County Public Library and the Utah Film Center, a Salt Lake City-based nonprofit. The Utah Film Center is redirecting its focus elsewhere after seven years of collaboration.
The library plans to look for other options to continue film screenings, Flynn said.
“The library screened films for years, even before the partnership with Utah Film Center,” she said. “They’ve been a terrific group to work with and we’re sorry to see it end. The partnership has been incredibly successful.”
“This event, the final on our film series partnership with the Grand County Public Library, is the perfect capstone to the series,” Utah Film Center Film Program Coordinator David Davis said. “Murat Eyuboglu’s film takes a subject familiar to all Moabites, the Colorado River, and brings the variety, majesty, moods and details of the river into beautiful and comprehensive focus. The soundtrack is bold and varied, and the post-film discussion with local river experts and enthusiasts will be a wonderful way to tie this film to the community.”
Final documentary screening presented by Utah Film Center and Grand County Public Library
When: Thursday, Aug. 16, at 7 p.m.
Where: Star Hall, 159 E. Center St.
Information: Call 435-259-1111