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Some Best of Fest better than others

KIMBERLY NICOLETTI
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Every year, volunteers with the Breckenridge Festival of Film spend hours in front of their televisions, watching independent films to determine which will win Best of Fest awards in each category. The process is like a Forrest Gump box of chocolates – you never know if you’re going to get a solid drama about politics or a creamy short about wife swapping.When I volunteered last year, the winners of each category I tackled – short drama, comedy and best actress – stood out, with one exception in the drama department that led me to watch both films again to decide. The others didn’t compare.This year, I watched the Best of Fest winners in the categories of best actress, best short drama, best comedy, best (feature-length) drama, best documentary and best GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered), and still, I loved some while others left me a little cold.My pick of the crop is the GLBT winner, “Eating Out.” If sharp, witty dialogue, one-line references to pop culture and zany antics tempt your taste buds, grab a seat at 6 p.m. Saturday at town hall in Breckenridge for the showing of the 90-minute film, along with the 20-minute short, “Drag Queen Heist.”When I read the menu of GLBT film summaries, “Eating Out” didn’t seem to fit my palate. First of all, the plot sounded confusing: “In a plot hatched by his crafty gay roommate Kyle, Caleb finds himself pretending to be gay to woo Gwen, but their scheme is thwarted when Gwen decides that Caleb would be the perfect catch for her own gay roommate, Marc – the object of Kyle’s affection.” Whew. That’s enough to feel stuffed before even ordering.

Plus, the gimmick of straight-boy-plays-gay-because-he’s-hot-for-a-girl seemed old.But I was wrong. “Eating Out” serves up a spicy story with rich characters ranging from the hot appetizer who needs to be a “bad girl” to the sweet and perky girl who falls for gay men.Though opening scenes of seemingly violent sex might upset some, the film redeems itself quickly by revealing a playful side. Sex scenes throughout the movie are tasteful, yet hot.And the best part is the film doesn’t take itself very seriously. The story of deception turns “Leave It to Beaver” during a family dinner scene … to come out with any more information would ruin the fun.My second most favorite Best of the Fest I saw was the winner of the comedy category, “Rent-a-Person.”The musical comedy about a men’s room attendant blends potty humor and romance with an ingenious business plan – all within a 12-minute time span. Don’t miss the sweet and brilliant short at 6 p.m. today at the Breckenridge Theatre. It shows with “Yard Sale” and “Rockfish.”

The winner of the best documentary, “Hoxie: The First Stand,” delivers a compelling recapitulation of the voluntary integration of schools in Hoxie, Ark. In 1955, the small town integrated its school system before any other district in the south. Everything went well – black and white children played together, building a foundation to end prejudice – until the media spread the word, which fueled the growing movement to maintain segregation. People began to fear interracial marriage and began touting integration as a Communist plot.Through interviews and newspaper clippings, the film documents the violence, threats and pressure people who supported integration faced. Ultimately, a lawyer drew a reluctant federal Justice Department into the controversy, which led to the nullification of state segregation laws.The final two award winners I watched, “Lonely Place” (best actress, best short drama) and “Noise” (best drama) have a few things in common.First, they both feature solid primary actresses and freaky co-stars who move the plot along. Second, they both begin slowly and creep along with an ever-building tension. Third, they end in a similar vein, and lastly, they left me a little cold.”Lonely Place” packed more emotional punch. Stella, a 1949 farm wife, re-evaluates her husband’s love for her when she meets Jesse, an unsettling drifter. All three characters are well-developed, and the result leaves the viewer with something to think about.



“Noise” follows a divorcee’s, Joyce, reaction to the erratic behavior of her neighbor, but the film misses out on fully showing the audience what motivates Joyce’s actions.”Noise” runs with “Broke Ground” at 9 p.m. today at the Speakeasy Movie Theatre in Breckenridge. “Lonely Place” shows at 3 p.m. Saturday with other shorts, “Stuck,” “Seibutsu (Still: Life),” “Blackwater Elegy” and “Jihad” at the Breckenridge Theatre.Other Best of Fest winners are: “Miracle Mile” for best student director; “Bill’s Run: A Political Journey in Rural Kansas” for best director; “The Fallen” for best screen play; “The Mummy an’ the Armadillo” for best ensemble cast; and “The 17th Man” for best actor. See the independent film summaries starting on B5 for more information.Winners of Best of Fest run from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday at the Speakeasy Movie Theatre in Breckenridge.Times and locations of films are subject to change, so pick up hot sheets at the information center located at Breck Associates at 304 S. Main in Breckenridge or call (970) 453-6200 for updates.Kimberly Nicoletti can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 245, or at knicoletti@summitdaily.com.


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