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Sundance 2015: Finders Keepers

Shannon Whisnant has a nose for a bargain. But when he bought a used grill at a North Carolina auction, the severed human leg he found inside was not part of the deal. The leg belonged to John Wood, and his connection to it was as emotional as it was personal. Their battle over possession of the leg is profiled in a hysterical and insightful documentary film called Finders Keepers. Directors Bryan Carberry and Clay Tweel join us Friday as we warp up our coverage of the Sundance Film Festival.
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Best of Enemies

Thursday, director Robert Gordon joins us to discuss his documentary film Best of Enemies, which profiles the caustic rivalry between Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley Jr. Two brilliant and eloquent men who represented two wholly opposite ideologies, they engaged in a first-of-its kind series of debates on the ABC network in 1968 during the political national conventions. The broadcasts burned with the fire of the men’s mutual hatred for one another and it laid the groundwork for the future of TV.

Ever since the invention of radio and television, humans have been sending signals into outer space, announcing their existence to other civilizations and waiting for a reply, waiting for contact with intelligent extraterrestrial life. In a new documentary called The Visit, Danish filmmaker Michael Madsen constructs a believable scenario of first contact on Earth. Ultimately, the film is an exploration of humanity’s fear of strangers and the unknown. Madsen joins us Wednesday to talk about it.

A new revolutionary culture was emerging in the 1960s, and for a short period of time the Black Panther Party was the vanguard of that change. Bold, outspoken, and idealistic, the Panthers zealously pursued their mission to upend the American establishment, and they did it with iconic style. In his latest film, documentarian Stanley Nelson chronicles the rise and decline of the Black Panther Party through the experiences of those who supported and opposed it. He joins us Tuesday to talk about it.

Monday, we're live from the Park City Museum on Main Street. Our guests are Utah filmmakers Tony Vainuku and Erika Cohn, whose film In Football We Trust is part of Sundance Film Festival. It’s the story of four Polynesian, high school football players focused on one goal: professional recruitment. Football is seen as the golden ticket, an escape from poverty, drugs and violence. But of course, few will get a coveted NFL jersey. We'll talk about the passion for the game and the pressure to succeed.

Many jobs have been taken from workers and given to computers. There are obvious ones like assembly line operators, but consider this: computers are now writing reports and driving cars. Even jobs you may think are secure might not be. But while the economy is changing, our education system is still based on a model created for the industrial revolution. So how do we best prepare students? It’s the question at the heart of the 2015 Sundance documentary Most Likely to Succeed, and Friday, we’re live from Park City with the filmmakers.

Thursday, we begin our Sundance Film Festival coverage with the story of the eccentric and passionate creation of Greenpeace. Founder Bob Hunter was a journalist with a vision for winning public sympathy. His idea was to plant “mind bombs,” actions that would go viral. So they brought cameras and made sure images of factory-like whaling ships and dead baby seals reached the public. That archival footage anchors the new documentary, and we’re joined by director Jerry Rothwell. It’s called “How to Change the World.”

Wednesday, we're talking about mathematician and computer pioneer Alan Turing. Our guest is biographer Andrew Hodges, whose book inspired the Academy Award-nominated film "The Imitation Game." Turing's code-breaking during World War II was a key to saving the Allies from the Nazis. But, he had a secret of his own, and was eventually arrested and persecuted for being gay. We'll talk to Hodges about Turing's extraordinary mind, his service and the life he couldn't live.

In the 60s, 70s, and 80s, there were a lot of rumors about the dangers of rock music. If you played The White Album backwards, was John Lennon really saying "turn me on dead man"? Did Led Zeppelin have hidden messages in Stairway to Heaven? Ministers preached and albums were burned to protect against communism, secret societies, and the occult. Tuesday morning, we're talking with folklorist Lynne McNeill and journalist Jesse Walker about the era of backmasking paranoia and asking what it reveals about our fears.  (Rebroadcast) Tune in at 7:00 p.m. for the State of the Union Address.

Picturing Muhammad

Jan 19, 2015
<a href="http://www.asia.si.edu/collections/edan/object.cfm?q=fsg_F1929.26">Freer/Sackler Museum of Asian Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C.</a>

Monday, we're asking what Islam really says about images of the Prophet Muhammad. Of course, this is more than a theological exercise given the terrorist attack earlier this month on the French magazine Charlie Hebdo. Art historian Christiane Gruber says an outright ban is really a modern notion and joins us to discuss how Islamic law has been interpreted throughout time and by various communities. We'll then talk with Salt Lake Imam Muhammed S. Mehtar to understand what the ban means to the faithful.

Wikimedia Commons

The geographer Alastair Bonnett laments a trend he’s noticed whereby our cities and towns look increasingly the same. He says our human places are being shaped into what he calls the “blandscape,” a global geography of monotony. In a new book, Bonnett leads a guided tour off the map of the blandscape to discover extraordinary locales that he says can relieve us from the dulling effects of the familiar and routine. He’ll join us to explore these places and to talk about their enchanting powers. (Rebroadcast)

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Conversations from 4 years of our Sundance Film Festival coverage

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February 5, 7:00 p.m. Join RadioWest live at Kingsbury Hall as Doug sits down with Pulitzer-winning playwright Tony Kushner. The event is free, but tickets are required.

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