This week marks the 33rd year for the Breckenridge Festival of Film, a four-day event (Thursday, Sept. 19, to Sunday, Sept. 22) filled with enough screenings, premieres, parties and forums to turn the High Country into a mini Hollywood. It is the longest running film festival in Colorado and among the longest running in the nation.
The 61 films showing during the festival were culled from about 200 entries sent from filmmakers across the U.S. and internationally. Each film fits into one of six categories — spiritual, comedy, short comedy (30 minutes or less), drama, short drama and documentary. The selection committee, led by programming director Dianna Nilsson, spent hours watching films and choosing the best among them to represent each category.
Forums have long been a part of the festival, from panels with independent filmmakers to discussions with the University of Colorado-Boulder Film Studies program and Summit High School students.
This year, two new forums have been added, with both amateur and professional filmmakers in mind.
“The Democratization of Film,” taking place Saturday, Sept. 21, at 4 p.m., takes a look at what it means to be a filmmaker.
“That’s going to explore (the question) ‘can anyone become a filmmaker?’” executive director Janice Kurbjun said. “We all have nice laptops, Androids, cameras, … and they’re all affordable. Everyone’s shooting with a GoPro. Does that mean everyone can be a filmmaker?”
The second forum, which will require an entrance fee, is titled “Making of the Shot” and will take a closer look at tips and tactics of cinematography. Clips will be shown and analyzed, with a question and answer period afterward.
“It’s accessible to amateur all the way up to professional,” Kurbjun said.
“Making of the Shot” is part of the major addition to this year’s festival — the Adventure Reel.
The seven films in the Adventure Reel focus on adventurous outdoor aspects, from the vast landscape of Antarctica to rafting down Colorado’s Black Canyon and the life of a ski patroller.
“It’s essentially our effort to embrace the community of Breckenridge and the community of Summit County because we all live here and work here to work hard and play hard,” Kurbjun said.
The Adventure Reel films will play at 7 p.m., right after the “Making of the Shot” forum at the Riverwalk Center.
Kurbjun added that organizers are looking to expand the Adventure Reel portion of the festival next year to include submissions from locals.
“What we’re hoping with the Adventure Reel is it will eventually become something that’s accessible to our amateur filmmakers,” she said.
On the screen
There’s a little something for everyone at this year’s festival, and a quick glance at the schedule will allow film-goers to work out a movie-watching plan.
“The festival has been many different forms over the years,” said board president Gary Martinez. “It’s more of an independent film festival now. Previously, there was a little more of a slant toward celebrating certain movie people — directors and movie actors and actresses, showing a lot of their current films and retrospectives, as well as a mixture of independent films.”
Martinez, who has been involved with the festivals for years, remembers years past when he drove to the airport to pick up celebrities and bring them to town — people such as James Earl Jones and Angie Dickinson.
While the majority of the films shown are considered independent or “indie” films, they cover a wide enough range of topics to appeal to most viewers.
Film Fest organizers are keeping the Opening Night film under wraps at the moment but have announced that “The Language of a Broken Heart” will be shown on Closing Night. According to Kurbjun, it’s a romantic comedy that mixes fun and lightheartedness with an occasionally more serious plotline and is reminiscent of the film “Garden State.”
“It should be a hit,” she said.
For younger movie lovers, the children’s program on Saturday, Sept. 21, will feature a showing of the film “Hotel Transylvania,” by Sony Pictures Animation, among others.
Summit High School students have submitted their own films, made in Film Studies class and selected by committee during the year, which will be shown at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 21, at Main Street Station. That is back-to-back with the submission from the CU Film Studies program — a showing and discussion of “West Side Story,” by Ernesto Acevedo-Munos.
“So not only do the high schoolers get the chance to show their films with global filmmakers, they then also get a chance to stay for the CU Film Studies Program,” Kurbjun said.
“Anyone who wants to start their education early in film can swing by both of those, and they’re both free,” she added.
Popcorn and cocktails
No film festival would be complete without the social events. After the lights go up and audience members stand, stretch and brush the popcorn out of their laps, the parties start. They range from invite-only events to those open to the public.
“They’re going to be fun,” Kurbjun said. “They’re everything from the opportunity to be able to meet the filmmakers to a chance for the filmmakers to meet each other.”
There will, of course, be both Opening and Closing Night parties. Fatty’s Pizzeria will host the “Ski Bum Party,” which refers to the documentary film “Bumming Colorado’s Ski Country” about life in a mountain town.
Martinez called the festival of film “a great time of year” because “you have lots of parties that go on, you get a chance to meet people that you otherwise aren’t going to walk into on the street (and) you get a chance to see some pretty different films, ones you ordinarily wouldn’t see in Summit County.”
For more information on the Breckenridge Festival of Film, visit www.breckfilmfest.com.
The 61 films showing during the festival were culled from about 200 entries sent from filmmakers across the U.S. and internationally. Each film fits into one of six categories — spiritual, comedy, short comedy (30 minutes or less), drama, short drama and documentary.