Critics, filmmakers, locals and visitors agree, as proven by the festival's longevity, that the Breckenridge Festival of Film offers something no other film festival can. The incredible beauty and good times to be had in Breckenridge is difficult to beat, even in comparison to Banff, Park City, Carbondale and other mountain-town film fests. Breck also offers an intimacy and a diversity of indie films that keep producers competing for a presence in the four-day festival, taking place this year Thursday through Sunday next week (June 7-10). "Having come from many years of working in independent film, I can't begin tell you how cherished festivals like this one are to aspiring filmmakers," said Karin Litzmann of the Speakeasy Movie Theatre, one of the four locations hosting BFF screenings. "The variety and most importantly the inclusiveness of the BFF make it a unique event and we are proud to host it at The Speakeasy. How often in life do you find a space where both Christian and GLBT films are screened side by side."The festival also gives independent filmmakers a chance to interact and learn from each other, as well as to rub shoulders with some stars. Past guest filmmakers and mentors in attendance have included such greats as Alan Arkin, James Earl Jones, Marsha Mason, Donald Sutherland, Jon Voight, Lou Diamond Phillips, Jon Favreau, Michael York and Irvin Kershner, among others."And, our audiences are the best," Litzmann continued. "They totally get into seeing indies, documentaries and big Hollywood premieres all packed into four days of screenings and parties. Tip of the hat to the folks that run it; 32 years is an impressive achievement."Established in 1981, operating under 501c3 private non-profit status, the BFF is one of the oldest film fests in the country, established to add enrichment and inspiration to the cultural community of Summit County through the art of filmmaking. "Inspire, Educate, Entertain," is the fest's motto. Approximately 54 comedies, documentaries, short dramas, student productions and feature length films will be shown this year in addition to a selection of premiere films. (see Schedule sidebar)The BFF features dozens of film screenings, forums, premieres, receptions, educational programs, retrospectives for honored guests and of course, after parties. Colorado Film Industry hosts the Independent Film Forums and the Friday Film Industry Party. Educational outreach programs, children's films, celebrity guests, independent filmmaker forums and other events celebrating the art of film contribute to the festival's diversity. The University of Colorado at Boulder each year presents classic and foreign films with faculty members leading discussions, and the Summit High School Best of Fest is a considered a "must see." More than 150 volunteers, several local theaters and other venues are involved in putting on the BFF each year. Funding for the festival comes from fundraising events, individual contributions, in-kind assistance, local public and private grants, sponsorships, and revenue from tickets and merchandise.Again in 2012, the Fest welcomes the inclusion of the GLBT Film Series, now in its 11th year. This helps fulfill the mission of the BFF and provides the GLBT films a more diverse audience. A number of films screened at the BFF in past years have gone on to win awards and acclaim at other festivals worldwide. GLBT films screening this year include: The Performance of Drowning, Coffee & Pie, Queen, Two Guys in a Backyard, Troy: Naked Boys Behind Bars, Sing! and Raid of the Rainbow Lounge.In 1989, the University of Colorado at Boulder Film Studies Program began its association with the Breckenridge Festival of Film to educate and bring a new perspective on film viewing to festival audiences. Each year, program professors screen a pair of related films and lead discussion on the productions themselves and on their significance in relation to each other, to advances and trends in the technical or creative aspects of filmmaking and to the times and cultures in which they were produced. Visit www.colorado.edu/FilmStudies for more information on this nationally recognized program, known for its specialization in narrative, documentary, experimental, and animated filmmaking. For a full schedule of festival films and parties, visit: http://www.breckfilmfest.com/home/schedule.php.
If comedy is what you're looking for, and you enjoy slightly off-kilter subject matter as any good indie film-goer should, score some tickets for "Incest! The Musical." The plot: the popular, good-looking class president falls in love with his twin sister, who is in the throes of an unsatisfying relationship herself. As prom approaches, the two must figure out how to deal with these feelings. Narcissism plus sexual pathology with some good old-fashioned song and dance is sure to add up to great comedy, or at least an interesting take on a taboo subject. -Allison Perry
Sunshine and on the heroic effort put forth by the townspeople to fight the fire and avoid having to evacuate the town. Directed by Michelle Carpenter, a resident of Sunshine at the time of the Fourmile Fire, "Above the Ashes" is a glimpse into dealing with a deadly fire and the resilience shown by a small town. This documentary is both relevant and timely for any Coloradan. The second film on this subject is a more artistic concept, telling the story of the fire through what people take, and what they leave behind, when forced with an evacuation. The director of the film "Packed" will be in attendance and hopes to answer deeper questions such as what do we really need and love as human beings. - Aaron Bible
"Tracer Gun," directed by Paul Grellong, is a short drama involving a drunken kiss and the disastrous consequences that result when the woman sends an apologetic gift to the wrong man. "Tracer Gun" will appeal to those looking for a unique take on a relatively benign scenario, and it will impress with the way in which the artist follows that scenario through to an unusual conclusion. Among other accomplishments, Grellong has worked as a producer on "Law & Order," and also won an award for his short comedy "Parachute" in 2008. - Allison Perry
"Raid of Rainbow Lounge" is one of this year's must-sees and, at 103 minutes, is the only full-length LGBT feature. Directed by Robert L. Camina, "Raid" chronicles the 2009 raid on The Rainbow Lounge, a newly opened gay bar in Ft. Worth, Tex. The raid represented a shocking display of excessive force and what many called police brutality. Many were arrested, injured and hospitalized, and the police defended their actions by claiming they were defending themselves against attempts to sexually assault officers. Chief of Police Jeff Halstead, in defending police actions, made a number of comments that were deeply insulting to the LGBT community and disturbing to society at large. What sets this story apart, however, is that Ft. Worth officials performed an about-face and reacted by instituting measures to foster tolerance and support diversity, such as mandatory diversity training for city employees and domestic partner benefits for homosexual city employees. Moreover, instead of defending his statements or hiding from the backlash, Chief Halstead educated himself about the LGBT community and played a key role in the changes the city made in support of equal rights for LGBT individuals. This film presents a glimpse into the history of the plight of the LGBT community. It also shows the extent to which it is possible for a community to grow and change in a positive direction, even after such an ugly event. - Allison Perry
"Talking Story", directed by Marie-Rose Phan-Le, is a story of healing told through Phan-Le's eyes and based on her experience as Vietnam-born apprentice healer who was educated in the West, and explores the lives and practices of spiritual healers and leaders from different cultures around the world. A self-labeled Ethno-spiritualist, Phan-Le describes examines the way spiritual beliefs and practices allow people to adapt to their particular circumstances. Her aim with "Talking Story" is ultimately to question the meaning of what it is to heal and the conception of healer. The story she weaves casts a new light on the intersection of medicine, religion and culture. - Allison Perry
"Wooden Butterflies", a short film directed by Guy Natanel, explores the way music influences our emotions and the role it plays in crafting a story and shaping a life. At the center of the film are two men, Haim and David, who build musical instruments from recycled materials in their garden in London. The film traces the fashioning of a dulcimer out of an 18th century piano and a painting of South Africa. In tracing the building of the dulcimer from beginning to end, Natanel ties in the life stories of the protagonists. With "Wooden Butterflies" Natanel provides an enlightening spin on the age-old theme of music as an essential component of the human experience. - Allison Perry
"Money and Medicine", directed by Robert Weisberg, is a full- length documentary addressing runaway healthcare spending and the impact it has had on the national deficit. The film addresses issues from end-of-life treatment choices to diagnostic screening/testing to illustrate the effects of the U.S. healthcare crisis. The focus is the role reduction of unnecessary medical spending could play in attaining affordable healthcare for every American. Weisberg uses a variety of doctor/patient stories filmed on location at UCLA Medical Center and Utah's Intermountain Medical Center. Additionally, "Money and Medicine" investigates some of the more controversial healthcare options that currently exist and the financial and moral implications inherent in them. It addresses the flaws in the American healthcare system from different angles and provides an educational journey into something that affects us all. - Allison Perry
(See full Breckenridge Festival of Film catalog insert in next Wednesday's SDN)A Mistake: Short Drama. USA. Student. Colorado Premiere.Arrested as a youth, restless as a father and husband, Gabe is helped by his family to reconnect with his past. Today, Gabriel admits the mistakes he made, something his father never learned to do, and something Gabriel never learned to forget.A People Uncounted: Documentary. Canada. Colorado Premiere.A People Uncounted is the true story of a romanticized and ostracized people, the Roma, whose genocide during the Holocaust has left them struggling to overcome their past, even as they face a frightening resurgence of racism and persecution in present-day Europe.Above the Ashes: Documentary. USA."Above the Ashes" is an award-winning documentary that reveals untold heroes, the strength of mountain communities and the devastation caused by the catastrophic Fourmile fire. Using haunting visuals, Above the Ashes reveals tales of bravery, family, friends, loss and the rebuilding of a community.Adam's Tallit: Short Drama. Australia. Colorado Premiere.Recently widowed Magda confines herself to her sewing room, where she makes 'tallits' (prayer shawls) for Jewish boys. Magda just wants to be left alone. Yet, when she reluctantly babysits her vivacious young grandson Adam one afternoon, he unknowingly empowers her to discover that beyond the acceptance of more than just her husband's death lies something of a new beginning. Bobby Ellis is Gonna Kick Your Ass: Short Comedy. USA. Colorado Premiere.Mark Buckley just smacked Bobby Ellis on the bus. So how's he going to spend his last day alive? Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance.Boom Varietal: Documentary. Argentina."Boom Varietal" is a documentary that follows the Argentine Malbec wine boom and explores its importance in today's pop culture.Born & Raised: Drama. USA. Colorado Premiere. Austin Eckstein, Producer and Nick Loritsch, Writer/Actor. Attending.In a small, seaside town, a young man learns a thing or two about love, luck and life from his well-traveled outlaw grandfather. "Born & Raised" is a tough, coming-of-age drama with heart and a ton of laughs.Cadaver: Short Drama. USA."Cadaver" is a macabre nursery rhyme (most definitely not for kids) starring "Back to the Future's" Christopher Lloyd, 15-year-old fashion icon Tavi Gevinson and Academy Award winner Kathy Bates. It tells the story of a cadaver who wakes up to say a last goodbye to his wife, but discovers a truth in death that he didn't know in life.Centennial Statehouse: Colorado's Greatest Treasure: Documentary. USA. Jim Havey. Attending.Among the great architectural treasures of the American West, the Colorado Capitol building provides a revealing reflection of the people and politics that shaped the Centennial State amid interests as diverse as its landscape.Children of the Air: Short Drama. USA.Past and present bleed into one in this dark allegory to the original fairytale version of The Little Mermaid.Climbing Elements: Documentary. Austria.In "Climbing Elements" the Austrian pro-climber Kilian Fischhhuber, multiple championship medal winner, faces the biggest challenges of his climbing career.Coffee & Pie: GLBT. USA. Colorado Premiere.A couple must come to terms with the fact that theirs is a love that could never be.Dislecksia: The Movie: Documentary. USA. Colorado Premiere.Dyslexia is a condition making it hard to learn to read the "normal" way. In Dislecksia: The Movie, dyslexic director Harvey Hubbell V presents experiences and research on dyslexics. You'll come to know dyslexics as people, not just talking heads.Dreaming American: Short Drama. USA.A young man fights to keep his body, his dignity and his dream alive, but finds himself up against an uncaring immigration bureaucracy. A true story of courage, living by one's wits, and the struggle to make it in America.Dulce (Sweet): Short Drama. Spain.Dulce is a fable about falling in love. Eighty-year-old grandparents Lily and William suffer from this temporary sickness, as do Adrian and Laura, who barely are ten-year-old grandparents. The elderly's memories and the youngsters' imagination are revived during dinner and with a game. Each word obtains imperious meaning and the greatest feelings are transformed into little gestures.Homecoming: Short Drama. USA. Student.Twelve-year-old Nina Patel wants to go to the homecoming dance but her traditional Indian parents refuse to let their daughter assimilate into such an American tradition. What should be the greatest night in her young life turns into the worst.Incest! The Musical: Short Comedy. USA. Student.Alex is class president. Katie is valedictorian. They're perfect for each other. They're also twin brother and sister. This year's prom is going to be interesting.Money and Medicine: Documentary. USA. Colorado Premiere.As rising health care costs threaten to bankrupt the country, "Money and Medicine" examines the waste that pervades our health care system and puts a human face on the medical, ethical, and financial challenges of containing runaway health care spending.Not Yet Begun to Fight: Documentary. USA.In the space between war and a new battle, "Not Yet Begun to Fight" unfolds, offering an intimate look at the human cost of combat. A retired Marine Colonel reaches out to a new generation returning from the battlefield. He puts a fly rod into their hand, teaches them to cast, and shares his secret: there are places where you can still be consumed by a simple act, and be redeemed as you gently release another creature, unharmed, into quiet waters.No Strings: Spiritual. USA. When two kindred strangers meet on a quiet Western Colorado road they discover they have mutually shared dreams of a simple life. But Jamie doesn't know that the paths before her lead to two very different destinies.Open Road: Drama. Brazil.Angie, a young Brazilian artist, abandons her old life and embarks on a journey around the country. Running from her past, and searching for her foundation in life, Angie finds not only herself but love in its many forms.Out Living It: Documentary. USA.Young adult cancer survivors redefine themselves through a life-changing week of rock climbing and kayaking; they are Out Living It! Portraying triumph of human spirit in the face of adversity while inspiring audiences to seek challenge, adventure, risk, and laughter.Packed: Documentary. USA. Attending.In September 2010, a wildfire swept through the mountain communities near Boulder, Colo., burning 6,000 acres and 169 homes. "Packed" is about the evacuees and what they chose to take with them. They took things we would expect, and many possessions we wouldn't have. The variety is surprising and the stories about the decisions are touching, irreverent, hopeful and insightful. "Packed" asks and answers the questions 'what do I need, what do I want, what do I love?'Private Sun: Short Drama. Palestinian Territory.Mariam is instructed by her doctor to sunbathe in order to reverse the vitamin D deficiency that is causing her a bone illness. But with nosy neighbors, an overbearing sister-in-law and Israeli surveillance planes, private moments under the sun are precious and rare.Queen: GLBT. USA.After finding out that her plans to adopt a child will be denied, Nikki Holiday, a drag queen cabaret star, still getting over a break up from her long time boyfriend, does her best to fill the void in her life. When a young bouncer who works at the theater lends a helping hand in continuing her pursuit to become a parent, Nikki comes to realize what she's had all along.Raid of the Rainbow Lounge: GLBT. USA. Colorado Premiere.Raid of the Rainbow Lounge explores the events surrounding the controversial 2009 police raid of a Fort Worth, Tex., gay bar that resulted in arrests and injuries. Following sordid allegations, outrage and initiatives, the city would evolve as a leader in LGBT equality. Narrated by Meredith Baxter.Ready to Talk: Short Drama. USA. Attending.A school massacre plunges a community into mourning and compels them to come together to pick up the pieces. Michael, aimless and in denial, has lost his wife and his will to live. After losing his business, he works at his cousin's coffee shop where he meets Christina, the mother of one of the children killed in the school.Reign: Short Drama. USA. Andrew Fognani. Attending.When a U.S. military operation designed to 'bait' Iraqi insurgents ensues, civilians get caught in the crossfire and an American soldier is forever changed by an encounter with an Iraqi woman.Shelter Island: Documentary. Attending.This documentary by award-winning director Michael Canzoniero ('Wedding Bros' SXSW, 2008) tells the story of Shelter Island resident and 'outsider' artist Harald Olsen and his equally eclectic patron, Jimmy Olinkiewicz, a blue-collar gas station owner and father of an autistic child. The film follows their amazing journey from selling paintings alongside a picket fence to a major showing at a Chelsea art gallery in Manhattan.Shoot the Moon. Short Drama. USA. Student.Marcy Meyers is down on her luck. Faced with piling bills, the remnants of a failed marriage, and now an imminent home foreclosure, she places all of her hope onto a national game show that promises a once-in-a-lifetime chance to win it all.Shouting Secrets: Drama. Switzerland. Korinna Sehringer, Producer, Director. Attending.A successful Native American writer whose novel sold out his family returns home to the reservation after getting a call that his mother is in ICU. "Shouting Secrets" tells a present day story about a Native-American family with unique struggles but universal truths.Soda Springs: Spiritual. USA. Jay Pickett, Producer, Screenwriter. Attending.It's never too late to be what you might have been.Still: Documentary. USA.Though not as well known as his contemporaries Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko, Clyfford Still was one of the leaders of the Abstract Expressionist movement and deliberately turned his back on the art establishment at the height of his career. STILL reveals, for the first time, the detailed and compelling story of Still's life, the evolution of his work, and his indelible contributions to American art.Talking Story: Documentary. USA. US Premiere. George W. Perkins, Executive Producer, Marie-Rose Phan-Le, Director/Producer, Jennifer Outland, Co-Producer/Writer, Scott Slack, Editor/Writer, Attending."Talking Story" transports us into the world of healing from the beaches of Hawaii to the heights of the Himalayas. Using the personal journey as a thread, what emerges are portraits of healers and spiritual teachers as human and divine. Technopolis Now!: Documentary. Australia. James Shaughnessy, Producer, Director, Editor. Attending.Exposing the impact of technology on our lives, our values and beliefs, "Technopolis Now!" is a revealing look at the modern world and humanity's uncertain role in guiding it. As explored through conversations with 23 artists, entrepreneurs, inventors, philosophers and hacktivists. The Assignment: Short Comedy. USA.Everyone thinks Brian is boring...even Brian. Can an eccentric teacher help him overcome his awkwardness and live a better life? Upon discovering that Brian is failing English, his teacher sends him on a wild, coming of age journey.The Big Bris: Short Comedy. USA. Student.Mo Green lands his first big time stand up gig on the same night as re-circumcision ceremony.The Game: Short Drama. Poland.Somewhere between life and death a thrilling chess match takes place. The stake is high - a gateway to the world of living. And the sole referee of this exciting tournament is a figure no one wishes to meet in their path.The Irrigationist: Documentary. USA. Colorado Premiere.Our story begins along the Tuolumne River. It is a story of great ambitions and hard work that transformed a vast and seasonally dry land into one of the world's most productive landscapes.The Last Race: Short Drama. Australia."I was moved to tears...beautifully done on all levels. It really packed a punch" Hugh Jackman. A fight over a patient's potential organ donation forces hard choices and difficult ramifications.An intensely emotional half hour 'race-against-time' drama that follows a group of people all facing their own death, or the certain, imminent death of their nearest and dearest. The Kershaws' son, Mike, a promising cyclist, has suffered fatal head injuries after a terrible accident and the family are at odds with one another regarding his potential organ donation. The Lepidoctor: Short Drama. USA.The Lepidoctor, centers around an eccentric boy, Baxter, who is obsessed with collecting and fixing strange gadgets. The recent death of his mother however has taught him that some things cannot be repaired. In coping with this loss, Baxter becomes withdrawn. That is until one day while visiting a museum, Baxter comes across an exhibit made of thousands of dead butterflies. The Movement: One Man Joins an Uprising: Documentary. USA. Kurt Miller, Director and Producer Attending.The Movement is the story of one man returning to the mountain where his life was changed forever. He receives inspiration in his quest from four people who overcame physical disabilities to discover the freedom of movement. Peppered with humor and drama, this is a story of people who face adversity with an intense inner fire.The Performance of Drowning: GLBT. USA.On a trip to 'Crippled Children's Camp' Terry Galloway falls for the deep end swimming instructor, nearly drowning as she learns to perform her newly-discovered queer, disabled identity.The Pink Room: Spiritual. USA. Colorado Premiere. Janey and Steve Shugart-Executive Producers, Producer Joel Sandvos-Producer, Director Adrienne Sandvos-Story Development. Attending.The Pink Room follows the journey of Mien and other young girls in the turbulent world of child sex slavery. A heart-rending story of redemption, unlikely heroes and a notorious Cambodian village compassionately healing from the inside out. The Silent Thief: Drama. USA. Colorado Premiere. The Silent Thief is the chilling story of Brennan Marley, a drifter who threatens to destroy a family's unity by systematically displacing their absent son, Mike Henderson. Hungry for acceptance and exceptionally cunning, Brennan rents a room from the Henderson family under false pretenses. During his stay, Brennan uses his manipulative prowess to ingratiate himself with each individual family member before Mike returns from college. As Brennan's tactics become increasingly pernicious, psyches are driven to the breaking point and violence ensues.The Singularity: Documentary. USA. Student. World Premiere. Attending.Humanity will soon create computers with greater-than-human intelligence, bio-engineer our species and re-design matter through nanotechnology. "The Singularity" sidesteps the sci-fi clichs, presenting an intellectually thrilling debate that begins with a basic question: What kind of humans do we want to become?The Southern Belle: Short Drama. USA.The paths of two starkly different men, a generation apart, converge late one evening for them to discover they share a dark and destructive bond that will change their lives in an instant. The Talk Man: Drama. USA. Colorado Premiere.Alex is a professional listener and has an unconventional mentor, Dallas, who gives out 'Free Advice' in the park. Both are attempting to heal the scars of past love while barreling toward the truth of who it has turned them into. "The Talk Man" is a story about love and the uncomfortable situations we must face to feel it. Starring: Gene Gallerano (Grown, Running Funny), Amy Flanagan (The Last Film Festival, Sex and The City), and Paul Benjamin (Do The Right Thing, Escape From Alcatraz, The Station Agent). Music By: Project Trio (Cello, Bass, Beat-boxing, flute)Tracer Gun: Short Drama. USA. Colorado Premiere.A little mistake turns into a living nightmare when a young woman apologizes for a drunken kiss by giving the right gift to the wrong man.Trade of Innocents: Drama. USA. An American couple work through their own loss while caught up in a world of criminals, sexual predators and innocent children. The seedy underworld of Cambodian brothels contrasts with the beauty and innocence of young girls victimized by human trafficking. Troy: Naked Boys Behind Bars, Sing!: GLBT. USA. Michael Derry Director, Writer. Attending.Nice guy Troy McDougall gets what he believes will be his big break into "The Business," a lead in the new musical "Naked Boys Behind Bars, Sing!" There he meets and is smitten with his beefy, blond, baby-faced co-star, Nick.Two Guys in a Backyard: GLBT. Australian. A man puts his friendship on the line during a backyard sparring session.Wooden Butterflies: Documentary. United Kingdom. World Premiere. Behind a small fruit garden in North London, two men handcraft guitars. Haim and David are modern-day luthiers, fashioning 'organic' stringed instruments from recycled wood. Tracing the genesis and birth of one dulcimer, "Wooden Butterflies" reveals a journey of metamorphosis: the translation of memory into music.