Claire Higgins

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June 7, 2012
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A look at three not-to-be-missed films at this year's BFF

Out of the 54 films premiering at this weekend's 32nd annual Breckenridge Festival of Film, it's time to take a closer look at three of them.

The festival's goal is to enrich lives through the ideas and emotions inspired by the art of filmmaking. Many films also focus on raising awareness for certain causes through not only documentaries, but through fictional pieces as well, which is what the following films managed to do.

One, co-produced by a Summit County native, takes on the worldwide human trafficking issue in a fictional, yet very real, film. Another, a documentary focusing on the Roma, a group of people still fighting to overcome the results of massive genocide during the Holocaust. And a documentary that sheds light on Argentina's Malbec wine and it's growing popularity.

Current Littleton resident, but previous Breck native, Bill Bolthouse and his family are behind "Trade of Innocents," a drama that follows a grieving American couple through Cambodia while they get caught up in a world of criminals, sexual predators and innocent children.

"It's a ride," Bolthouse said about the film. "It will take to you to different places emotionally - sadness, fear and anger, but it leaves you with a sense of hope." Bolthouse and his family visited Cambodia in 2007 and realized the human trafficking and sexual slavery happening in the country.

"Because of that sobering experience, my family has been passionate about the anti-trafficking movement, helping fund organizations that fight against this horrific crime that exists not only in far-flung countries but right here at home."

Christopher Bessette, who directed Trade of Innocents, came to Bolthouse in 2009 wanting to create film he had in his heart since visiting Cambodia and filming for a TV show about trafficking.

Two and half years later, Bolthouse and Bessette are ready to premiere the film, which stars Mira Sorvino and Dermot Mulraney, Saturday at 9 p.m. in the Riverwalk Center.

Although a fictional drama, the 90-minute film is based on real events. It brings out all aspects of trafficking, such as the Cambodian police corruption, the ruthlessness of brothel owners, as well as beauty and innocence of young girls victimized by human trafficking.

Through the film, Bolthouse is hoping to raise awareness of the issue and point viewers to 32 vetted organizations that are on the front lines in investigation, aftercare and prevention.

Switching gears into the documentary category, "A People Uncounted" is the true story of a romanticized and ostracized people, the Roma, whose genocide during the Holocaust left them struggling to overcome their past, even as they face a frightening resurgence of racism and persecution in present-day Europe.

Canadian director Aaron Yeger said the film will take the audience on "a journey through the past that exposes how the current struggle among Roma for rights reflects their persecution during the Holocaust."

While working on another documentary, Yeger was asked to join the team to create "A People Uncounted." He was looking for a project that would make a positive change in the world, and he said he knew this could be his vehicle.

The team consists of producers Marc Swenker and Tom Rasky, Yeger as director editor Kurt Engfehr, cinematographer Stephen Whitehead and music director Robi Botos.

Swenker and Rasky, both Jewish and children of Holocaust survivors, dreamed up the idea of "A People Uncounted" after a conversation with a Roma friend who told them of his own people's experiences in the genocide.

During the film's journey through 11 countries and dozens of Roma interviews, the friends discovered common ground despite differing ethnicities.

The documentary asks viewers to consider the common humanity that bonds all races. A People Uncounted drives home the reality that mankind has yet to learn from its past mistakes and fully understand the roots of intolerance.

"By learning about the experiences of the Roma, we gain insight into how this history of prejudice may be put to an end," Yeger said.

Keeping with the documentary and outside Summit County theme, "Boom Varietal" is a full-length documentary about Argentina's Malbec wine.

Malbec wine, which is growing in popularity in the U.S., has seen a booming revival that was nearly lost.

Not only does the documentary follow the Malbec journey from France to Argentina's dry climate, but it also follows the wine growers and the Argentine culture.

"This film captures the lives of both the wine growers and the Malbec grape itself in a very educational and captivating way. This film will stand with the best wine documentaries ever produced," executive producer Kirk Ermisch said.

The team spent 18 months in Malbec country following wine growers, makers and field workers, a culture that director Sky Pinnick admits he "knew almost nothing about."

"It wasn't easy producing a film in a foreign country, but we were able to cross cultural barriers and tell an amazing story that I think people will connect with in any language," Pinnick said.


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The Summit Daily Updated Jun 7, 2012 04:14PM Published Jun 7, 2012 04:06PM Copyright 2012 The Summit Daily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.