What to watch at the 39th annual Breck Film Fest
BRECKENRIDGE — Keep those cameras rolling as the 39th annual Breck Film Fest continues this weekend, following the opening night screening of the Billy Crystal and Ben Schwartz comedy “Standing Up, Falling Down.”
Out of 601 entries, the festival — ranked in the top 20 film festivals in the country by USA Today — accepted 103, including five world premieres, five U.S. premieres and 35 Colorado premieres. In the past, the Breck Film Fest has had the honor of premiering films like “Shawshank Redemption,” “L.A. Confidential” and “Kung Fu Panda.”
With that many films screened over four days, there’s plenty to satisfy all demographics and tastes. The Breck Film Fest is keeping the tradition of grouping similarly themed movies together to show in a bevy of blocks. For instance, the “Women Who Are Not” block pairs the Congo documentary “My Body Is Not A Weapon” with the documentary on Syrian refugee women “We Are Not Princesses.”
Since many screenings happen simultaneously it is difficult to catch every last frame. However, Sunday will have multiple “Best of Fest” blocks that allow guests to see what they have missed, the like drama “Senior Love Triangle” or comedy “Batshi*t Bride.”
The festival also has a block for children, Saturday morning includes the chance to watch four different animated shorts — “Recoiled,” “Two Balloons,” “Millie” and “Oh Baby!” — for free. In addition to the films, there will be family-friendly activities such as painting facilitated by Kathye Conti of Creative SpiritsArt Studio.
When: Thursday, Sept. 19, through Sunday, Sept. 22
Where: Riverwalk Center, Speakeasy Theater, Breckenridge Theater and Colorado Mountain College.
Cost: Individual screening tickets range from $12 to $20 with day passes priced at $40. All films can be seen with the $140 Peak 9 Pass. A VIP Peak 10 pass is available for $200. Visit BreckFilmFest.org for tickets and the complete schedule.
“Its free babysitting, free crafts,” said Ashley Hughes, the festival’s marketing and development manager. “All of the animated shorts are there and adults can attend for free as well, provided they bring a child.”
Since education is a tenant of the festival, the organization is also reaching children beyond their role as an audience member. This will be the third year that finalists from Thompson School District’s Centennial State Student Film Festival will show their work in Breckenridge. Breck Film Fest and Keystone Science School have partnered for a weekend of STEM learning.
It’s the first time the groups have partnered since 2017, and the first time that the STEM weekend will occur during the festival. Industry professionals will meet with KSS participants and help them craft a short film that will then be shown for free on Sunday.
Also returning this year is a series of business-focused discussions presented by CampSight, capped with a screening of a documentary on the origins of the art collective Meow Wolf.
Along with comedy, animation and drama, the festival shows its fair share of documentaries. A standout is “Stalag Luft III: One Man’s Story,” a film about World War II prisoner of war and airman Charles Woehrle. Created by his niece Louise Woehrle, the nine-year labor of love was released this year during the 75th anniversary of “The Great Escape” from Stalag Luft III — the Nazi prison camp Woehrle was held in and the basis of the 1963 film. A Q&A will follow the screening.
Because September is Suicide Prevention Month, Breck Film Fest has partnered with Build Hope for a variety of films, such as “The American Opioid Crisis: Talbot Goes Purple” and “Generation Columbine,” a movie that follows the impact mass shootings have on students’ mental health. Building Hope will be part of a panel to discuss the gun violence epidemic after Friday film.
After Saturday’s award ceremony at 6:30 p.m. at the Riverwalk center is the Colorado premiere of “Above the Clouds.” The British coming-of-age film focuses on a teenager girl discovering that her father isn’t her biological father. She then sets out on a journey to find him on a remote island in Scotland.
“It’s got a ‘Little Miss Sunshine’ vibe to it, and it’s quite cool,” said Hughes.
The mountain film festival also showcases several films that highlight the outdoors. On Friday, as part of Breck Film Fest’s Adventure Reel and the feature presentation that evening, “The River and The Wall,” illustrates the recreational opportunities provided by the Rio Grande and the effect of geopolitics on the environment.
Another highlight is that Guor Maker, will be in attendance Friday afternoon for the showing of the film “Runner,” which chronicles his tale from refugee to world-renowned South Sudanese athlete. Lastly, closing out the weekend on Sunday is “Bethany Hamilton: Unstoppable,” a documentary about the surfer who was bitten by a shark at age 13.
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