The Colorado premiere of Danny Glover’s latest release, “Chasing Shakespeare,” completes the lineup for the Breckenridge Festival of Film’s 33rd anniversary event, slated for Thursday through Sept. 22.
Co-starring Graham Greene, the film parallels a modern-day love story with that of William Shakespeare’s 16th century “Romeo & Juliet” — and incorporates Native American spiritual and mythical themes, to boot.
Named Best Feature Film at AFI Cannes Film Festival, Audience Favorite at SXSW and winner of several awards — including Best Actor — at FirstGlance Hollywood Film Festival, “Chasing Shakespeare” will open the festival at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, alongside the Oscar-nominated, live-action short “Death of a Shadow.”
The short, created by Belgian filmmaker Tom Van Avermaet, follows Nathan Rijckx, a deceased World War I soldier stuck in limbo between life and death, as he collects shadows to regain a second chance at life and love. With two shadows left to collect, he discovers something that shakes his world completely.
Open, close and shorts
The two films kick off a lineup of more than 50 films that range from the independent, feature-length Austrian thriller “Body Complete” to the adrenaline-pumping and visually intriguing kayak descents of waterfalls in Mexico in “Cascada” by Camp 4 Collective. Filmmakers compete for the coveted Audience Award, offered in conjunction with selection committee awards, including the festival-culminating Best of Fest, a not-to-miss lineup on Sept. 22.
Closing Night features the North American premiere of “Language of a Broken Heart,” a story about Nick Brown (Juddy Talt), a neurotic, best-selling author who finds his fiancee with another man, sending him into a tailspin reflecting on his numerous romantic failures only to find hope again with quirky antiquarian bookseller, Emma (Kate French), who challenges him to let people appreciate him for who he is. “Language of a Broken Heart” is a fresh, sweet comedy about love’s inherent possessiveness and the realization that it’s not how you love but who you love. Charming and engaging, it touches on love, hate and everything in between.
The festival’s eclectic lineup also features dramas and short dramas, including “Watercolor Postcards,” with Jonathan Banks of “Breaking Bad,” John C. McGinley of “Scrubs” and Bailee Madison in a heartbreaking yet uplifting tale of family, music and love in a small Texas town. “The Gold Sparrow,” an animated short drama, intertwines graphic novel with music video in a young adult-oriented tale of villain and superhero sparring over color in a creative world.
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Acclaimed documentaries are again a focal point of the festival, including the United States premiere of New Zealand photographer and filmmaker Anthony Powell’s “Antarctica: A Year on Ice,” where time-lapse photography and intricate tales paint the picture of those who live and work year-round on the southernmost continent. Catering to the thought of snow on the ground locally, the world premiere of “Bumming Colorado’s Ski Country” and “We Ride: The Story of Snowboarding” feature known names in the ski and snowboard world, artfully intertwining history with modernity — including shots of Breckenridge itself.
Musicians rejoice: Not only is there a chance to see the man behind the music for Elvis Presley and BB King in “AKA Doc Pomus,” but “Bumming Colorado’s Ski Country” director Kent Gunnufson brings his soundtrack musicians to the festival for a pre-screening jam session at the Riverwalk Center on Friday night.
Catering to the young and young-at-heart in Colorado are a number of films lined up both for the all-new Adventure Reel and interspersed in regular screenings. Student favorite “Why We Climb” is paired with unprecedented footage of snowbikes descending the steep alpine slopes of the Grossglockner in “The Path (Der Weg).” Spin the globe, and you’re soon in Indonesia with a handful of stand-up paddelboarders surfing the waves in “H2indO.”
The serious side: Dramas
The more serious side of film is also addressed by the Breckenridge Festival of Film, as it features short drama “Ying and Yang,” a story of a young man wrestling with his sexual identity. The festival’s spiritual track addresses themes of brave women and hidden people, while special discussions arise around two films about Alzheimer’s disease and three films about domestic violence and child abuse. In “Duk County,” a Boulder mountaineer-turned-filmmaker visits South Sudan on a medical mission. Clips taken to remember the journey eventually turned into an unexpected, 37-minute, award-winning documentary.
Staying true to its educational mission, Breckenridge Festival of Film has added two new forums to its historic free offerings with the Summit High School Best of Fest, CU-Boulder Film Studies Program (featuring “West Side Story” this year) and the independent filmmaker forum. “The Democratization of Film” (free) addresses the question of what makes a filmmaker in an age of accessible equipment, and amateur and professional filmmakers can gather to hear the experts talk about the making of their favorite clips in “Making of the Shot,” which kicks off the ticketed Adventure Reel series.
The Breckenridge Festival of Film makes a free offering to families and children in its Saturday morning Children’s Program, this year featuring “Hotel Transylvania,” with free pizza from Downstairs at Eric’s for the youngsters. A family highlight in the regular festival lineup is the Saturday afternoon screening of animated short “Light Me Up” and historical basketball drama, “Dream Team 1935.”
“The Breckenridge Festival of Film has again compiled an intriguing lineup of films that caters to a wide audience spectrum,” said Janice Kurbjun, executive director of the festival. “The depth and breadth of documentaries, comedies, dramas and spiritual films creates an impactful experience filled with heart, humor, imagination and creativity. Coupled with the festival’s renewed focus on education through its added forums, the Breckenridge Festival of Film truly does bring in relevant perspectives of all kinds.”