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The Breck buzz

BRECKENRIDGE – Ahh, mid-September in the High Country. Autumn has returned to Summit County, bringing both the anticipated changes and some unexpected arrivals:The first snowfall.Golden aspen leaves.Stunt C*cks.You guessed it: The 23rd annual Breckenridge Festival of Film is officially underway, bringing with it Lou Diamond Philips and Billy Hayes (“Midnight Express”) as this year’s celebrity guests, and a larger than ever collection of premieres, full-length features, shorts, documentaries, mockumentaries, filmmakers, entourages, tributes, parties, dinners, soirees and everything else you might expect from a festival of this caliber (including the aforementioned short comedy about a certain type of actor).While it may not be able to throw its weight around as much as the 800-pound-gorilla film festivals like Telluride or Sundance, Breckenridge has gained a reputation as a forum for less-established filmmakers to get legitimate buzz.”We give the small guy a shot,” said Randy England, this year’s director of comedies for the festival. “If “Don: Plain & Tall’ had been produced by a big house like Warner Brothers, it would probably be a blockbuster. And Harry Kellerman is exactly the kind of filmmaker we like to showcase. He’s a student at Columbia’s film school, and “Spidermen’ is really a quality work.”Of course, there’s a few big-budget films, too. “Matchstick Men,” starring Nicholas Cage, opened the festival Thursday night. “Anything Else” is dripping with star power juice: Woody Allen, Danny DeVito, Jimmy Fallon and Christina Ricci all grace this comedy with their presence. Sofia Coppola, best known for directing “Virgin Suicides” (and being the daughter of Francis Ford), directs Bill Murray in “Lost in Translation.” These movies are all scheduled for wide release between now and November but can be seen this weekend in Breckenridge.The event has another film with the heft of Hollywood behind it: Parker Posey and Oscar-winner Olympia Dukakis perform in this suspenseful murder drama set in an upscale New York gay community.”It’s a two-tissue-box movie,” according to Frank Acosta, director of this year’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender series, which is presenting a total of 10 full-length features or shorts this year. Enjoying its second year as a part of the Breckenridge Festival of Film, it’s only one of several special-interest groupings the festival has to offer.The University of Colorado is presenting two films as part of the CU-Boulder Film Studies Program, “Meet Me In St. Louis” and “All that Jazz.” These are classic musicals from the mid- to late-20th century that probably better exhibit the nominal theme of this year’s fest, “a tribute to music in movies,” than any other films. Professor Ernesto R. Acevedo-Munoz, Ph.D., will be on hand to discuss these works and their musical contributions.”The best way to go to a film festival is to get a little bit of everything,” said Suzanne Burke, executive director of the festival.So, if you’ve been out riding all weekend (or hiding in a tent), from 1-6 p.m. Sunday, you can catch the Best of Fest, a back-to-back showing of the films that received the most favorable audience judgments of their respective groups. Tickets are $15.”If you can catch one show, and one show only, this is the one to catch,” Burke said.When asked about previous festivals, Burke said, “I can’t talk about that stuff. I’m really a good duck on water. I make everything look good on the surface. Although, I think all of our guests, from John Favreau to John Voigt, have had a good time drinking in the bars in town.”And there’s really no reason why Lou Diamond Philips should have a bad time, either. After all, how much better can it get than a cameo in a short film named after a type of porn actor? Then again, this town has a reputation.For the most updated schedule, visit http://www.breckfilmfest.com or the festival information center in Main Street Station (at the former site of Rock Paper Scissors) or call (970) 547-3100.


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