Breck Film blends digital, drive-in screenings for 2020 festival |

Breck Film blends digital, drive-in screenings for 2020 festival

“Jimmy Carter: Rock & Roll President” kicks off this year’s Breck Film Fest with a Thursday night drive-in experience. Featuring appearances by Willie Nelson, Bono, Bob Dylan, Garth Brooks and more, the movie shows how Carter’s love of music genres gave him an edge as a presidential candidate.
Photo from Greenwich Entertainment

BRECKENRIDGE — Breck Film has been altering its regular programming this year ever since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. The Summit Film Society, now called the Breck Film Society, went digital and gave viewers the option to stream a monthly film on demand all summer long.

The organization has learned from the experience — along with recently partnering with Breckenridge Creative Arts to host classic drive-in movies — to create a new version of its annual festival. Rather than screen throughout Breckenridge, guests have the option of watching the submissions from the comfort of their homes or seeing select titles at the drive-in at Colorado Mountain College’s parking lot.

“In terms of pivoting, we’ve been busier than any year before,” said Ashley Hughes, the nonprofit’s marketing and development manager.

While there are only four in-person screening opportunities this weekend, there are more than 100 films available for streaming throughout the month. Shorts and student films can be found alongside feature-length dramas and documentaries just a click away. 

If You Go

What: Breck Film Fest
When: Sept. 18 through Oct. 4
Where: Online and at Colorado Mountain College, 107 Denison Placer Road, Breckenridge
Cost: Digital films are $12, drive-in movies are $20 and online all-access passes start at $80. Visit to purchase, stream and view the full schedule.

Hughes said Breck Film has been watching other industry festivals closely and adjusted prices and accessibility accordingly. At first, they had the idea to geoblock the festival — meaning a person streaming had to be watching from Summit County — to keep it feeling intimate, though now anyone across the globe with an internet connection can tune in.

“We know we have a lot of filmmakers, as well as fans and second-home owners, that do not feel safe to come up here — and we’re not encouraging it either,” Hughes said. “So we want to make sure that their film will be seen pretty much anywhere in the world.”

The festivities begin Thursday, Sept. 17, with a virtual award ceremony and dedication to Phyllis Martinez — wife of Gary Martinez, and one of the founders of the festival, who recently died — at 4 p.m. A drive-in presentation of “Jimmy Carter: Rock & Roll President” at the college’s Breckenridge campus will follow at 7:30 p.m.

At 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 18, is the drive-in screening of the festival’s Adventure Reel, a collection of sports movies that get the adrenaline flowing. Included is the world premiere of Matchstick Production’s “Huck Yeah!” and “Breathtaking: K2 — The World’s Most Dangerous Mountain.” More adventure films will be shown at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 21, with a Q&A moderated by local comedian Monte Montepare.

Saturday, Sept. 19, focuses on social justice issues. First is another entry of the monthly Solidarity Talks at the Riverwalk Center’s lawn at noon. At 2:30 p.m. is the digital world premiere and Q&A for “Escape from Extinction,” which is a documentary narrated by Helen Mirren that focuses on zoos’ conservation efforts to save endangered animals.

At 4 p.m. is a forum called “Racism Through the Lens.” Moderated by Summit School District Superintendent Marion Smith Jr., panelists include activist Katie Leonard, associate communications professor Creshema Murray of University of Houston-Downtown and others.

The day comes to a close with the drive-in Colorado premiere of “The Cuban” at 7:30 p.m. Directed by Sergio Navarretta, the film stars award-winning Louis Gossett Jr. as an elderly musician who has his life changed by a young caregiver portrayed by Ana Golja. Gossett Jr., known for his work on “Roots,” “Watchmen” and “An Officer and a Gentleman” will do a livestreamed Q&A at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 24.

Ending the weekend of drive-in films is “D-Rep: Fight for Life” at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 20. Silverthorne resident Dave Repsher, the subject of the documentary, will do a Q&A after the screening along with the filmmakers.

Children’s programming and Girls in STEM events have been postponed this year, yet the festival has adapted some educational components to the digital world. Students still will be able to participate in virtual roundtables and learn from industry professionals in addition to having their work available for streaming.

Additionally, at 5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 18, is a panel called “Film in the Time of Corona” that features presenters from Matchstick Productions, the founder of the Slamdance Film Festival and more. The “Lessons from the Holocaust” film block will screen at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 22, followed by a Q&A with “Liberation Heroes” Director Vanessa Roth.

Other notable online films and Q&As include “Being Dead” at 3 p.m. Friday, Sept. 18, and “Overland” at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 29. At 3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 20 is “The Subject,” featuring Jason Biggs of the “American Pie” film franchise and Director Lanie Zipoy.

There is also an online auction this year that acts as a supplement to canceled fundraising events. Items up for bid include tropical vacations, ski passes, outdoor gear and more.

Breck Film knows it’ll be difficult to watch every film and encourages patrons to take their time rather than binge. The best films of this year will likely be shown at next year’s festival to make up for this year’s circumstances.

“We want you to have the full Breck Film Fest experience that you would have if you were here in person,” Hughes said. “We want you to go paddleboarding in the morning and maybe a hike in the afternoon. And when you’ve sat down and have had a happy hour in your own home, then tune in for a film. Instead of seeing four films in one weekend, you might see 25. Who knows?”

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