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Women at war, teens are topics of 2 Utah films

Two locally made, feature-length motion pictures are being screened in Salt Lake City this weekend:

- "LUCK AND RAT POISONING" is the first feature by young Salt Lake filmmakers Joshua Taeoalii and Nick Westbye. The comedy-drama features a group of teenage and early 20-something Utahns rebelling against their parents and community.That "rebellion" includes taking drugs and indulging in sexual practices. But as Taeoalii observed, "life isn't as easy as these kids think it is, especially when you're doing drugs.

"Their minds and relationships are poisoned by drugs, and they have to find out how to deal with that," he said during a telephone interview.

Taeoalii, a self-professed movie buff, wrote the screenplay and directed most of the scenes. Westbye helped finance the project and eventually wound up directing the remaining scenes.

The Utah Film & Video Center will screen "Luck and Rat Poisoning" on Friday, Jan. 9, at the Salt Lake Art Center's Creer Auditorium, 20 S. West Temple.

The movie is not rated, but contains some R-rated language, and some frank and vulgar references.

Tickets for the one-night-only showing, which starts at 8 p.m., are $5 at the door. When the film was first screened at the center in October, tickets sold out and some people had to be turned away at the door.

- "THE LONG-HAIRED WARRIORS" documents trips Salt Lake director Mel Halbach made to Vietnam between 1992 and 1994, as he interviewed Vietnamese women who fought against the French, South Vietnamese Regular Army and U.S. Army troops.

According to Halbach, the one-hour documentary chronicles the sacrifices and contributions those female soldiers made.

"Vietnamese women have a tradition of active participation in defending their homes and country - dating back 2,000 years against Chinese invaders," he said.

Yet he claims that the film is not propagandistic, and that the women interviewed for the documentary offer insight and forgiveness.

"(The women) seemed to understand that Americans have also suffered, having lost men on foreign soil," Halbach said. "They feel a particular sisterhood with American wives and mothers who have shared their pain."

A work-in-progress print of the film was shown at the Utah Film & Video Center in November, to help Halbach raise funds to complete the project. He will hold a premiere screening of the finished film on Saturday, Jan. 10, at the University of Utah's Fine Arts Auditorium.

University of Utah Theater Arts professor Kevin Hanson will introduce the film, and Halbach and researchers Nancy Green and Dale Elrod will hold a question-and-answer session after the screening.

Tickets for the one-night-only showing, which starts at 7 p.m., are $6 at the door.