Film about Southern Utah University’s history wins national competition

NEW YORK CITY — A docudrama titled “Back Up the Mountain,” produced by Southern Utah University in Cedar City, Utah, about its history and founding, won a “Winnie” award for Best Film Short in the Equus Film Festival in New York City. The award was recently announced after the film was screened in New York City at the end of November 2015.

The Equus Film Festival features films, documentaries, shorts, music videos, commercials, training educational materials, art and literature about horses. SUU’s film depicts the heroic story of the men and women and the horse “Old Sorrel” who braved deep snow drifts to save a lumber expedition attempting to get lumber from the mountain while building SUU’s first building.

The film festival ran Nov. 18-20, 2015, at the Village East Cinema in lower Manhattan. “Back Up the Mountain” was screened as an official selection and later recognized for the Best Short Award. Director Jon Smith and SUU vice president for Alumni and Community Relations, Mindy Benson, along with assistant director Anne Smith and wrangler/actor Jake Benson, attended the screening in New York.

SUU communication professor Jon Smith wrote, produced and directed the 19-minute film that was shot on location in Cedar City and Brian Head Resort, Utah. SUU President Scott L. Wyatt commissioned the film to be produced to help promote SUU’s history.

The film was edited by Lee Byers. Jasen Wade, an SUU alumus, stars as Neil Bladen, the man credited with having the determination to head back into winter storms to retrieve essential lumber for the school. Many other local residents and descendants of the original founders played key acting roles.

The film has also been recognized in other film competitions. It has received a Telly Bronze Award and also an Award of Recognition for Special Purpose Productions from the Best Shorts Competition. A clip from the film is also featured as a nominee in the “Filmed in Utah” promo for awards that will be announced in March.

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