Breckenridge Film Festival screens for 35th year |

Breckenridge Film Festival screens for 35th year

"Snowman" is the opening night film and part of the Adventure Reel. It screens Thursday, Sept. 17 at 7 p.m. at the Riverwalk Center. The 35th annual Breckenridge Film Festival runs Thursday, Sept. 17 to Sunday, Sept. 20.
Courtesy Breckenridge Film Festival |

if you go

What: Breckenridge Film Festival

When: Thursday, Sept. 17 to Sunday, Sept. 20

Tickets: Visit the Box Office to pick up or purchase your festival passes and program, browse maps, buy festival swag and find other useful information all during Box Office hours.

Box office location: Old Masonic Hall, 110 Washington St., Breckenridge

Box office hours: Thursday, Sept. 17, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Friday, Sept. 18, 9 .m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday, Sept. 19, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sunday, Sept. 20, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tickets are also available online at or at the door of the theater, released 10 minutes prior to screening provided space allows.

More information:



4:30 p.m. - Filmmaker Welcome Party at Warming Hut

7 p.m. - Snowman (Riverwalk)

9:30 p.m. - Opening Night Party at Ember


noon - LIVING CHEMICAL-FREE: Stink! (Speakeasy)

APOCALYPTIC: Astraea, (Town Hall)

noon to 2 p.m. - Storyboarding for Teens Forum, (Hopefull/Discovery)

3 p.m. - FAMILY FILMS (older ages): Claire & the Keys, The Incredible Adventures of JoJo, (Riverwalk)

Wildlike, (Speakeasy)

IMPROVING YOUNG LIVES: Code Oakland, Omo Child: The River and the Bush, (Town Hall)

3-5 p.m. - CU-Denver Forum Alternatives in Filmmaking, (Hopefull/Discovery)

6 p.m. - COLORADO FILM: Uncle John (with John Ashton), (Speakeasy)

MUSIC LEGEND: Marcus, (Town Hall)

OFFICESPACE SHORTS: Wire Cutters, The Haircut , Happy Hour, Work Mate, Starman, The Red House, Day One, (Hopefull/Discovery)

SPIRITUAL - 53:1, Crocodile Gennadiy, (CMC)

7 p.m. - FEATURED FILM: Meru (Riverwalk)

9 p.m. - COLORADO FILM: Rolling Papers (with Mitch Dickman), (Speakeasy)

WAR FILMS: The Bravest & The Boldest 17min , Reparation, (Town Hall)

NOIR SHORTS: The Detectives of Noir Town, Love and a Lug Wrench, What’s Eating Dad?, Grandpa’s Debtor, Winter Light, (Hopefull/Discovery)

COLORADO FILM: Doc of the Dead (with Alexandre Philippe), (CMC)


9-11 - Yoga film with Meta or Blue Lotus One Hundred Mules Walking, (Hopefull/Discovery)

11 a.m. CHILDREN’S PROGRAM: Tiny Town, Switch Man, Pop Star Puppy, (Riverwalk)

noon - TEEN ANGST: Sketch, Chub, Back to Awesome, (Speakeasy)

Master Hoa Requiem, A Coup in Camelot, (Town Hall)

3 p.m. - ADVENTURE REEL: River of Eden, Delta Dawn, A Deliberate Life, The Rocky Mountains Traverse, Nature Rx, (Riverwalk)

FOLKLORE,SPEECH & DEBATE: Coyote and the Rock, A Sort of Homecoming (Family-friendly), (Speakeasy)

Skid, (Town Hall)

SEEKING HUMAN CONNECTIONS: Tick Tock, Keep in Touch, (Hopefull/Discovery)

Industry Party

6 p.m. - ADVENTURE REEL — PUSHING THE ENVELOPE: Bob Craig — The Search for Freedom, (Riverwalk)

COLORADO FILM: People vs. George Lucas (with Alexandre Philippe), (Speakeasy)

RELATIONSHIPS: The Answers, Redemption of a Broken Mind, (Town Hall)

SPIRITUAL: Focus, Games We Played, Stage Four: A Love Story, (CMC)

9 p.m. - ADVENTURE REEL: Afterglow, Sugar Mountain, The Frozen Titans, (Riverwalk)

COLORADO FILM: Teddy Boy (w/ Sean Jourdan), (Speakeasy)

EDGY ROMCOMS: Heavenly Peace 6, Her First Black Guy, Catching Up, Lennon, Technical Difficulties of Intimacy, Speed Dating, The Trouble Downstairs, Route Canal 27, (Town Hall)

THE ARTS: September Sketch Book, Farewell My King, Heart of Glass, (Hopefull/Discovery)


10 a.m. - Brunch at Napper Tandy’s

10 a.m. to 6 p.m. - Best of Fest (Speakeasy)

Noon - Uncle John Replay, (Town Hall)

noon to 2 p.m. - Teen Stop-Motion Workshop w/ library, (Hopefull/Discovery)

Hanna Ranch (w/ Mitch Dickman), (CMC)

3-6 p.m. - Colorado filmmakers panels

IMPROVING CHILD-WELFARE/PRISON SYSTEMS: Muted, In an Ideal World, (Hopefull/Discovery)

EARNING AN INHERITANCE: When the Ocean Met the Sky, (CMC)

6 p.m. - Awards, (Riverwalk)

7 p.m. - Being Evel (with Daniel Junge)

8:30 p.m. - Closing Night Wrap Party at Briar Rose

In 1937, “Snow White” burst onto the scene. At that time, no one had seen an animated film like it — and it moved audiences to tears. Since then, animation continues to evolve, from movies like “Avatar” and characters like Gollum in “Lord of the Rings,” to a future in virtual reality.

No longer is it relegated to children’s entertainment. It is entrenched in gaming, advertisements, animated shows for adults and live-action filmmaking.

“Overall, animation is an important genre within filmmaking at large, and it has been for quite a while,” said Howard Cook, assistant professor and director for the Digital Animation Center at CU Denver. “It’s been snubbed for a long time, but now it’s in the Academy Awards; some animated features are even competing against live-action films for best picture. It’s a tremendously important art form — it has been for a hundred years or so.”

This year, the Breckenridge Film Festival (BFF), running Thursday, Sept. 17 to Sunday, Sept. 20, added animation as a category for the first time, partnering with CU Denver’s Digital Animation Center.

“By adding animation we think that over time it is going to gain traction and become something filmmakers seek out,” said Janice Kurbjun, executive director of BFF. “Besides being an attractive thing for filmmakers, we think it’s a growing medium. … It’s not just a child’s medium right now, it’s an adult medium, so we are excited to be in on somewhat the ground floor.”

Traditional, stop-motion, CGI and experimental animation films will be showcased during the festival. Traditional animation represents the bulk of these films, with “Claire and the Keys,” “Switchman,” “Coyote and the Rock,” “Tick Tock” and “Heavenly Peace.” CGI takes the stage in “Wire Cutters,” a short that Cook recommends. To see experimental animation, check out “September Sketchbook,” a film created using more than 5,400 drawings made with pen and paper. And in the stop-motion animation category is the film “Speed Dating.”

Cook, also a new festival board member this year, will represent animation at a forum on Friday called Alternatives in Filmmaking. He will join Michelle Carpenter and Craig Volk to discuss other areas of filmmaking the general public doesn’t really think about, he said. The panel will explore motion and title graphics, gaming cinematics and the future of virtual reality. Another topic will be webisodes.

“One of the things we teach in our film program is this idea of you don’t have to create an episodic TV show that lives on television,” Cook said. “You now have the Web that you can distribute that on, and what does that mean for filmmakers — given the kind of equipment they can get their hands on for relatively cheap. You don’t have to be a huge studio anymore to be able to produce a high-quality television show.”

Two interactive exhibits showcasing digital sculpting and motion capture will be on display at Old Masonic Hall and the Riverwalk Center, presented by the CU Denver Digital Animation Society. Students will be on hand demonstrating the process of motion capture, or recording the movement of objects or people, which is used to animate digital characters used in filmmaking. Digital sculpting is the use of software that offers tools to push, pull, smooth, grab, pinch or otherwise manipulate a digital object as if it were made of a real-life substance such as clay. At the Riverwalk Center, the demonstration will be available between films. On a slightly smaller scale due to space, the exhibit will be available at the Old Masonic Hall when the box office is open.


This year, the film festival received more than 400 submissions, compared to the usual 185.

“I think that filmmakers are taking notice,” Kurbjun said. “It’s not just filmmakers, part of the reason they are finding out about us is because local and national media are recognizing us.”

According to a USA Today Poll, BFF was selected at No. 13 in the Top 20 festivals.

“We really think our filmmakers have a really good time here, so the word about this particular festival is spreading through the industry,” she said.

Fall in Summit County can take a little credit for bringing people to the festival as well. The BFF, now in September, always lands on one of the best weekends of the year to see fall foliage, Kurbjun said.

“That is definitely a highlight of coming to Breck for the film festival because we have a weekend full of films, but the way our schedule works is typically you have the morning to go do something and have films playing all into the afternoon and evening,” she said. “So we have folks that come up and want to mountain bike or hike in the morning and then they come and see some films in the afternoon. It’s a perfect setting for a weekend getaway.”

Summit County’s size, compared to other locations for film festivals, lends itself to more interaction for filmmakers, she said.

“We are a small community, people are used to talking to each other even if they don’t know each other, and that makes filmmakers feel more welcome when they do come here,” she said.


A big part of the film festival experience isn’t just in front of a screen. The parties, events and free forums offer a chance for audiences to mingle with filmmakers, ask questions and give filmmakers a chance to grow ideas. Open to the public, the opening night party at Ember on Thursday is complemented by the unique appetizers, Kurbjun said.

“There’s buzz about the food, there’s buzz about the films, and having a whole bunch of unique guests in town,” she said. “And, with the amount of different types of film we are able to provide, it’s different for everyone. Everyone will have a completely different schedule of what they want to go see — everywhere from being entertained to learning, to taking their kids to see some films.”

This year, BFF added AfterHours, a place for filmmakers to gather outside of the festival. Kurbjun said organizers wanted filmmakers to get to know the community, so they close the VIP lounge for them, but provide a place in local establishments where the public can interact with them.


The festival opens with “Snowman,” a film that will resonate with audiences in a ski town like Breckenridge. “Snowman” follows the story of Kevin Fogolin and his childhood friend, freeskiing icon Mike Douglas. As kids, the two always dreamed of living and working in the mountains, and, as adults, Douglas opts to follow his passion instead of pursuing the expectations typical of a blue-collar town. As a professional skier, he finds himself on the cover of magazines and staring in films with ski icons Shane McConkey and Jonny Moseley.

Fogolin had initially abandoned his mountain dream but, years later, finds himself back in the mountains as an avalanche forecaster and consultant in British Columbia’s Coast Range. His job is to evaluate the threat of snowpack on industrial projects and frequently stabilize the area by triggering avalanches with explosives deployed from a helicopter. After one such mission goes horribly wrong, the two are forced to confront the risks and rewards of following a shared passion.

“Snowman” is the opening film but also part of the BFF’s Adventure Reel.

“It’s always tricky being a film festival that exists in a resort athletic community, because we don’t necessarily want to be an adventure film festival,” Kurbjun said. “We want people to feel like they’re still learning, we want people to broaden their horizons with global documentaries, dramas, we want them to see foreign film, but we also want to acknowledge our home is an adventure community. … ‘Snowman’ was selected because we do have very high threshold for what films we select in the adventure film category.”

Shot in the Toba Valley in the Coast Mountains of B.C., the location for filming is only accessible by boat or helicopter.

“It’s a beautiful film, really well done,” Kurbjun said. “It has phenomenal footage of avalanches. From the cinematography to the story line, to all the different components, add up to a quality film we felt is a good representation of opening night.”

The film is slated to screen at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 17, at the Riverwalk Center in Breckenridge. Douglas and Fogolin will be present at opening night to introduce “Snowman” and host a Q&A following the film. They will also be available during the opening night party at Ember for a meet and greet.


A Breckenridge film festival wouldn’t be complete without highlighting Colorado films and filmmakers. Several Colorado filmmakers will be in attendance at the festival, thanks to support from BFF founding members Meg Lass and Mary Rianoshek, as well as Ron Henderson and Marilyn Marsh St. Veltri of the Denver Film Society.

“Uncle John” stars Fort Collins-based actor John Ashton. Ashton, who will be at the presentation, can be recognized from his role as Detective Sgt. John Taggart opposite Eddie Murphy in “Beverly Hills Cop.” The film runs Friday, Sept. 18 at 6 p.m. at the Speakeasy.

Later that evening at the Speakeasy, Mitch Dickman’s documentary “Rolling Papers” focuses on the Denver Post’s coverage of the new law legalizing marijuana.

“It’s relevant because it’s new for Colorado, and it’s also a topic that’s relevant nationally,” Kurbjun said.

Dickman, who is based in Denver, will be in attendance for that film, as well as for his film “Hanna Ranch,” playing Sunday, Sept. 20, at Colorado Mountain College.

For a spin on the zombie apocalypse, check out Alexandre Philippe’s “Doc of the Dead.” Philippe examines zombies from the 1930s, when zombies were portrayed as drugged, undead slaves, to their reinvention in the ’60s, as well as the popularity of zombies today. Philippe examines questions such as how to survive the zombie apocalypse when (not if) it comes; and which is scarier, a zombie that shambles or one that runs. Another film of his, “The People vs. George Lucas,” will play at 6 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 19, at the Speakeasy.

The film “Teddy Boy” by Sean Jourdan was shot entirely in Colorado. A native of Albuquerque, New Mexico, Jourdan now resides in Denver and will be at the festival to present his work.

Director Daniel Junge will be in attendance to close out the festival Sunday, Sept. 20, with his film “Being Evel.” This feature-length documentary has been featured in festivals such as Sundance, Telluride MountainFilm and Dallas International Film Festival. Junge won an Oscar in 2012 for Best Short Subject Documentary and was nominated for a 2010 Oscar in the same category.

The Colorado focus will culminate Sunday, Sept. 20, in a 3 p.m. forum about filmmaking in the state, moderated by Colorado Film commissioner Donald Zuckerman.


The Adventure Reel, created in 2013, has grown over the past two years.

Besides “Snowman” and “Being Evel,” a highlight of the Adventure Reel includes “Meru.” The film follows the story of Conrad Anker and Jimmy Chin, both of whom have visited Breckenridge to speak at the North Face Speaker Series, and their wall climb on 21,000-foot Mount Meru in the Himalayas. The U.S. Documentary Audience Award winner at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, this film features commentary from author Jon Krakauer, who wrote “Into the Wild.” The film follows Anker and Chin’s first attempt, which left the group vowing never to return, and the circumstances surrounding their second pursuit.

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