Sunday, May 31, 2020
Family of Woman Film Festival Takes a Snow Day
A Coca Cola truck wasn’t the only thing that got stuck during the 2018 Family of Woman Film Festival.
Monday, April 29, 2019


There can never be too much snow in a ski town, right?

Apparently, there is a thing as too much snow..

Peggy Goldwyn is crying “Uncle!” after three consecutive years of heavy snows have wreaked havoc with her Family of Woman Film Festival. She’s throwing in the towel for the time being, putting the film festival on hiatus for a year as she tries to figure out how to keep it going while evading snowstorms that have given her and festival supporters fits.

Sun Valley Community School student Camille Bourret was among those who posed with Daniel Junge and his Oscar statuette following the showing of “Saving Face.”

Would it be better to move it to fall? Or, how about early June?

“I want to think about what would be the viable way to do it—people look forward to it every year, with many of them coming from out of town for it. But they can’t get here in winter. And it’s frustrating for locals when they’ve been looking forward to seeing the films and can’t get out of their driveways because the snowplows haven’t come,” Goldwyn said.

Weather was not a problem during the first nine years. But the heavy snows of 2016-17 played havoc with attendees being able to get to Sun Valley. And in 2018 a wet heavy snowstorm walloped Sun Valley during the week of the film festival, leaving Coca Cola and other delivery trucks stuck on downtown street and forcing Goldwyn to cancel a POV (Point of View) breakfast.

This year record snowfall in February left festival aficionados stuck in their homes in Hulen Meadows and other neighborhoods. And on a rare day when snow let up in Sun Valley, filmmakers ended up stuck in New York and elsewhere.

The winter of 2017-18 wasn’t known for record snow. But the snow that walloped Sun Valley during the 2018 Family of Woman Film Festival was deep and wet.

“With the extreme weather, some long-time supporters who are part-time homeowners are just not coming that time of year now because the weather is so bad. I do believe climate change has made this time of year the worst of winter permanently. It goes beyond the stress of changing flights for people and compensating for delays. Making changes has a cost and cuts into the net that we are able to give UNFPA—and this is what the festival is all about,” said Goldwyn, a board member with UNFPA.

“Every year we’ve made the festival more cost effective but for the past three years the weather has knocked us for a loop.”

Goldwyn started the film festival 12 years ago to create a conversation about obstacles women face around the world while also raising awareness about the work of UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund that works to provide safe childbirth and more in developing countries.

Over the years Goldwyn had an uncanny knack for selecting films that speak to the moment. Daniel Junge and Dr. Mohammad Jawad, for instance, showed up at the festival clutching the Oscar they’d won that week for Best Documentary Short for “Saving Face” about Jawad’s efforts to reconstruct the faces of Pakistani women whose husbands had thrown acid on them.

Workers hastened to dig out 4th Street in Ketchum during the 2018 snows.

She showed “The invisible War,” just as sexual assault in the United States military was beginning to make headlines. She did the same with “The Hunting Ground,” about sexual assault on college campuses.

Any Rivera, who had become the face of the undocumented movie, accompanied the film “No Le Digas a Nadie (Don’t Tell Anyone)” just as the debate around undocumented students was heating up.  And movies like “In Syria,” which showed the terror a family faced trapped inside their apartment in Damascus while war was waged outside, countered political rhetoric that purported refugees seeking asylum are terrorists.

This year Documentary Investigator Amy Herdy accompanied “The Bleeding Edge,” which related how  medical devices were left on the market even after numerous complaints. Among them: A chrome-cobalt artificial hip that leaked dangerous cobalt into recipients’ system leading to neurological problems. And the IUD birth control device Essure, which caused massive bleeding pain, fatigue and fever in many of the women who used it.

“As long as the FDA is funded by industry, it’s not going to get better,” said Herdy as she described  kickbacks given to doctors for using the devices and the whistleblowers who lost their jobs. “People think the FDA ‘s there to protect us. But in many cases they’re simply paid by medical device companies.

“If you ‘re getting a medical device, find out exactly what it is. Find out if it’s been recalled—they won’t send you a letter. Find out its success rate. Find out whether the doctor has a financial relationship with manufacturers. And, when you talk to the doctor about a procedure, tell them you’re going to record the conversation because you’re terrible at remembering. And then keep that recording because you might need it.”

One of most popular films this year was “The Judge,” about a Palestinian lawyer who persisted to become the first female judge at a Palestinian Shari court in the West Bank.

“I think the chief justice underestimated us because we were women with small cameras,” filmmaker Sara Maamouri said of the footage they were able to get showing men fighting her efforts to help women get their rightful place in society.

“What Peggy and her team are doing is incredible. They’re connecting your community to the world,” said Barbara Attie, one of the filmmakers behind “Mrs. Goundo’s Daughter,” which depicts one woman’s attempt to get asylum to save her daughter from being circumcised.

This year Goldwyn moved her POV Breakfasts up a day so that if she had to cancel one she’d be able to reschedule it. She also offered matinees, in addition to the nightly screenings, for those who prefer driving in snow during the day. Even then, mountains of snow piled up in the middle of the street, eliminating close-at-hand parking.

Goldwyn said she decided to take a year off because it’s too short a time to plan for anything in early fall, if that’s where she decides to move the festival.

“I have loved finding these films and bringing them, the subjects of the films, the filmmakers and the wonderful speakers. And Boise State University still wants to be involved in showing a few of the films in Boise. I just won’t do it in winter. I need to repurpose things for a new era.”


Peggy Goldwyn has donated three of the films shown at the 2019 Family of Woman Film Festival to The Community Library.

They are: “Mrs. Goundo’s Daughter,” “The Bleeding Edge” and “Facing the Dragon,” a documentary following a female Parliament member and a journalist fighting religious fundamentalism following the pullout of foreign aid and military forces from Afghanistan.

Three more will be donated as soon as they’re released to the general public. They are:

  • “The Judge”
  • “I Am Not a Witch,” a drama about a 9-year-old Zambian girl who is accused of being a witch.
  • “On Her Shoulders,” which follows a Yazidi woman who survived capture by ISIS to became a tireless human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize recipient.


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