Stranger Than Fiction: The Eerie Backstory of Carbon 

"I know that sounds impossible, but the photo didn't just look like her. It was her. And the fact that she was looking into the lens? Crazy."

Among the Oscar caliber talent in the limelight at this year's Sun Valley Film Festival—work featuring Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, Robert Redford and Oliver Stone are all on the schedule—Boise-based filmmaker Christian Lybrook has one of the highest-profile showcases at SVFF.

"Honestly, I wouldn't be where I am today if it weren't for the Sun Valley Film Festival," said Lybrook. "That's where someone looked me in the eye a few years ago and said, 'You're a filmmaker.' It hadn't really hit me until then. It took me a moment to say, 'Yes. Yes I am.' That was validating."

That validation came in 2012, the inaugural year of SVFF and the year Lybrook took his first film to the festival. In 2015, Lybrook won first place in the One Potato screenplay competition for emerging Idaho filmmakers and on Thursday, March 3, Lybrook's big screen adaptation of his award-winning screenplay, Carbon, will have its world premiere at SVFF.

"The festival has been incredibly supportive," Lybrook said in February as he was putting last-minute touches on his film. "Having said that, I never take the festival for granted. I work incredibly hard."

The backstory of the 15-minute long Carbon, which Lybrook describes as a "sci-fi western," is nearly as mysterious as the film itself.

"Some years ago, I was flipping through a book of Depression-era photos, and I came upon a picture of a Dust Bowl family. There in the foreground was a young woman looking directly into the camera's lens. It was my former girlfriend," said Lybrook. "I know that sounds impossible, but the photo didn't just look like her. It was her. And the fact that she was looking into the lens? Crazy."

For years, Lybrook couldn't shake the image. It became the seed for Carbon, which was filmed in the Bruneau Dunes and stars Jennifer Lafleur as an Idaho sheep rancher whose life begins to unravel when strange things start happening.

"I talk to other filmmakers and when we talk about festivals, Sun Valley is always at the top of our lists," said Lybrook, who is more than a bit anxious to screen Carbon at SVFF. "It's an amazing weeklong community of filmmakers. And now, I've got this big premiere? Wow."

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