Through A Local Lens // Park City Filmmaker Jill Orschel

Jill Orschel Filmmaker

Jill Orschel’s interest in filmmaking began in front of the camera, participating in a series of Mountain Dew commercials. She fell in love with the camaraderie and teamwork of the filmmaking process. After moving to Utah in 1990, she volunteered at the Sundance Institute eventually transitioning into photographer for the Sundance summer Labs. That’s when she really started to love, appreciate and embrace independent cinema in general and documentary film specifically.

Jill has made two 16mm films while working toward an MFA at the University of Utah, as well as four other shorts, most notably ‘SISTER WIFE’ which revealed some of the more intimate and complex experiences of being a plural wife in a religious cult. “That film was accepted into the Sundance Film Festival in 2009 and it ended up going around the world and winning several awards” notes Orschel.

Jill’s current project is her first feature length documentary -- a continuation of her work with women in the twin towns of Hildale, UT and Colorado City, AZ who have lived in polygamy. Jill states “I’m focusing on Cora Lee, who is the first woman to speak out many years ago on sexual abuses within the FLDS. She was shunned from the fundamentalist religion because she was considered a threat. It’s a very visual film because she is an artist and the story tells how Cora is extraordinarily resilient in the face of a lot of heartache and trauma.”

Jill involves locals in her projects as both film crew and subjects. She believes there are countless stories within our community. She looks for people, mostly women, who are going through transformation in their lives. Jill explains “I’m fascinated how people, no matter where they are from, live specific, nuanced circumstances, and if they are open to telling their story, then I like to find the universal—what makes it meaningful to audiences.”

FilmBarbara Bretz