Student superior

By By Natalie Hale

By Natalie Hale

One by one, Trisha Carter’s decayed teeth were pulled out.

Tears welled up in Alex Mack’s eyes as she watched the bleeding sockets– the only proof that Carter, a former drug addict, even had teeth.

The journey to this point began with a class about documentary filmmaking at Spy Hop Productions.

Alex Mack was interested in learning more about film. She signed up for the Pitch-Nic class offered during her junior year in high school because she liked writing and telling stories.

When the class started, Mack didn’t have any ideas concerning what she wanted to make her documentary about, but the inspiration came suddenly from an unexpected source.

As Mack recounts in the film, her father sat her family down one day and broke the news: Her stepmother was addicted to methamphetamines.

Mack had found her story.

“Utah has the third-highest meth use in the nation,” said Mack, a freshman in film. “This is a really important issue.”

The statistic, which she found in an article about the rising number of women using meth in the Deseret Morning News, was from a survey taken in 2003.

The survey found that in Salt Lake City, 45.6 percent of women arrested tested positive for meth, the third-highest percentage in the nation.

Taking her idea to the class, she pulled aside Jack Allred, her production mentor, and asked if she could focus her documentary on women who use meth in Utah.

Teaming up with fellow student Diana Montero, they began to create the film “Mother Superior.”

From the beginning, the entire process took more than fourteen months–from gathering sponsors to the finished screening–a process Allred described as “exhausting and rewarding.”

Mack and Montero visited multiple rehabs, called recovering addicts and spoke to experts about the mental and physical effects of drugs on their users.

“I was amazed at how willing these women were to tell their stories,” Mack said.

She found that many of the women she interviewed had found out about the drug through family members, and were often using it to lose weight and get things done as a method of escape.

“This experience helped me learn a lot about my own situation and helped me understand it more,” Mack said.

On a whim, the film was entered into the Sundance Film Festival after the positive responses it received from its screenings across Utah, even one from Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.

With more than 4,445 films entered to be chosen for screenings at the festival, only 71 were chosen. So when the news arrived that “Mother Superior” was picked to be screened, the response was one of disbelief.

“When I found out about it being chosen, I didn’t believe it,” Allred said. “It took me, like, 30 seconds to actually believe it.”

The film will be shown three times during the festival. To find screening times, visit festival.sundance.org/2007

Lennie Mahler

Freshman Alexandra Mack’s film “Mother Superior” will be screened at the Sundance Film Festival later this month. The documentary about Utah women who use meth was filmed during her junior year of high school.