Only one week remains before the ninth annual Sun Valley Film Festival begins. The feature films, celebrities, parties and awards are all covered in the festival’s official program, published as part of today’s Mountain Express.
With an event of such scale, though, some stories and points of interest inevitably slip under the rug. While many festivalgoers and artists come in from California and elsewhere, perhaps the most important detail to not let go unnoticed is the fact that locals do take part as well.
The valley is brimming with talented artists, including Ketchum native Reed Lindsay, who will make his second appearance as a filmmaker at the festival, having screened his documentary “Charlie vs. Goliath” a few years ago.
This year, Lindsay will contribute the short documentary “Safe At Home,” which takes an intimate and moving look at professional baseball player Roberto Hernández, who turned down a promising career in Major League Baseball and a six-figure contract with the Cleveland Indians in favor of a modest, but emotionally fulfilling, life in his beloved homeland of Cuba.
“I’ve always been passionate about baseball,” Lindsay said. “I played at Hemingway when I was a kid. Actually, I even made the front page of the sports section of the Mountain Express once.”
Though the sport was an integral part of his life for many years, it did not figure into his artistic career for some time. But in 2015, Lindsay happened to visit Cuba on an unrelated matter.
“I was blown away by how amazing it was and got really interested in Cuban baseball,” he said. “Documentaries about the sport in Cuba were all about people who left Cuba for the United States. I found very little out there about baseball players in Cuba, but became fully immersed in that world.
“That’s when I came across the story of Roberto, which for me was very shocking. Twenty years ago, the best players in Cuba decided not to leave, but in recent years, that’s changed. Young players are leaving more and more, traveling outside, developing their talent and making heaps of money.”
Hernández bucked that trend. In “Safe At Home,” Lindsay follows the athlete, painting a portrait of a talented man—he pitches at 94 miles per hour—who made an admirable but difficult choice: to abandon a path that would likely lead to wealth and fame in favor of family.
“People around the world are leaving families and communities they love, making that sacrifice to have a better life economically,” Lindsay said. “The decision to leave is difficult, but so is the decision to stay.
“Roberto really went against the grain. He gave up potentially a lot of money for family and community. That’s a universal story. It’s not just bound to Cuba or baseball. Even in privileged places like Sun Valley, we’re all faced with decisions like that, choosing money versus values. When you really boil it down, the lesson is that there are more important things in life than money. That’s relevant everywhere, but certainly here, in Ketchum.”
While Lindsay travels far and wide for filmmaking projects—he is actually back in Cuba again for an upcoming documentary series on the current administration’s economic war with the island nation—Lindsay maintains strong local roots, including a regular residency in Ketchum. His production company, Belly of the Beast Films, LLC, is incorporated in Ketchum, too. To come back for a local film festival is very meaningful for him.
“I think it’s incredibly important for local filmmakers to be involved in the festival, and for aspiring young filmmakers who want to get into the industry to be involved,” he said.
“The festival is an amazing event. It brings amazing films and experienced, talented people from the film world, but it’s so much more meaningful when people from the area get involved. We’re not just a vacation spot. Some really talented people live here and all over the state. The festival has made great efforts for Idaho filmmakers.”
Learn more about all the Sun Valley Film Festival has to offer in the official program included with the March 11 issue of the Mountain Express. Visit sunvalleyfilmfestival.org for tickets and details.