The Crested Butte Film Festival (CBFF) is now in its fourth year, thanks to former Boulderites Michael and Jen Brody, who relocated to Crested Butte a couple of years ago specifically to start the festival. (Incidentally, they are expecting their first child in December.)
The Film Festival starts Thursday, September 25, and runs through Sunday, September 28 at various locations. For a complete schedule and information, go to cbfilmfest.org.
Last year’s audience was 3,300, according to Michael Brody, doubling the attendance from the first year. This year there’s an expected 4,000 to 4,500 total audience, based on attendance at each show—about 700 people, from locals to Front Rangers.
Michael Brody says of the approximately 85 films showing this year, “We have an outstanding collection of international films that include documentaries, feature length narratives, scripted fictional films, shorts and big outdoor adventure film programs. There are films about GMOs and the pros and cons of ranching, and the quality of these films is incredible.”
It all starts Thursday at 4:30 p.m. with a bike parade that meets at First and Elk Avenue, and is open to everyone. That’s followed by a Marchitelli’s Gourmet Noodle dinner at the Crested Butte Center for the Arts ($10 per person) under a large tent on the front lawn.
At 6 p.m., the festival kicks off with local filmmaker Jesse Zwick and his movie, About Alex, which has been described as in the same genre as The Big Chill. His father, Ed Zwick, also a prominent film maker, has been a second-home owner in Crested Butte for 30 years and was part of the popular but defunct Reel Fest. He also spoke at the Public Policy Forum a couple of years ago, packing the house.
Both Zwicks will take part in a question and answer session after the Saturday night showing of Jesse’s film.
All films will be shown at Crested Butte Center for the Arts, two of the screens at the Majestic Theatre and the Mallardi Cabaret, which has been converted into a small room venue. The closing party is Sunday night at 7 p.m. at the Red Room, downstairs at the Secret Stash, and is free and open to the public.
Michael Brody says, “I think there’s a lot of name and brand recognition of the CBFF. I see us getting bigger and bigger and doing more. The venues where we can show films are also changing. The Crested Butte Center for the Arts is expanding and the Mt. Crested Butte Performing Arts Center [MCBPAC] is being built.”
Brody says there will soon be a large music performance venue downtown in the old Grubstake building in the future. Film delivery has changed dramatically and many recall the Majestic Theatre’s fund drive to change to the mandatory digital format. All the festival films are in digital format and Michael says, “It’s a much more crisp and beautiful image to watch films by.”
The festival receives about 100 submissions from film creators. The screening committee consists of ten people, including the Brodys, who will digitally view more than 300 films to choose the best for the festival, They rate them on quality, technical, craft and story, asking such questions as is it well made, does it tell a good story, is it technically sound, is it well acted and scripted?
Michael Brody says, “The quality is obvious—bad films are tiresome but great films are rejuvenating. Once a week something happens where a film will re-inspire us and the quality is very apparent.”
The process starts January 1 when the team begins receiving films but Michael says, “We’re always going to other fests, reading journals and we’re always hearing about good films, then having to track down those films. It’s a year-round process for sure. Sometimes we see stuff we like and for whatever reason we can’t get it. It may be that the timing’s not right, like if it’s already had a festival run and now it’s in theaters, or it’s too early and they want to show it at bigger festivals first. The good news is that there are always more great films than we have slots for and so we just work to bring the best films that we can to Crested Butte and share them with this community.”
The festival will bring at least 35 filmmakers to town this year, with each taking part in a question and answer session. “It’s a great opportunity for our audience to meet these filmmakers and the talks are free,” Michael says.
Filmmaker talks will take place Saturday and Sunday mornings at 11:45 upstairs at the Bacchanale and are open to the public.
High on the list of not-to-be-missed is The One I Love, screening on Friday, September 26 at 7:30 p.m. at the Center for the Arts, and again on Saturday, September 27 at 9:30 p.m. at the Majestic Theatre. The One I Love is the follow-up film of Jay and Mark Duplass, filmmakers who presented Jeff, Who Lives At Home at the 2012 CBFF.
The One I Love stars Elisabeth Moss (Peggy Olson of Mad Men) and Mark Duplass and chronicles a couple who, on the advice of their therapist, head off on a couple’s retreat to an exclusive resort. They find a mysterious guesthouse nearby and the action gets romantic and also weirder as they seemingly encounter the people they’ve always wanted to see in each other. The film is touted to be a mystery, a dream/fantasy, and a very romantic mind-bender.
Being socially responsible, the CBFF has created ACT Now and considers it one of the event’s principal programs. ACT stands for Action and Change Together and is the call to action portion of the festival that inspires filmgoers to become educated and respond immediately to certain films and social issues in a positive and proactive way, inviting social and personal change. This is typically done after viewing a film and Q&A session, and includes direct and hands-on opportunities to become more educated and be a vehicle of change, sign petitions, volunteer, make a donation, and find out ways to make a difference. The CBFF website includes this year’s schedule for ACT Now program events.
Asked if he thought the CBFF would ever be like the highly acclaimed Telluride Film Festival, Michael says, “I don’t think we want to compete with Telluride. They’re the third or fourth most important film fest in the world. They’ve been at it 40 years and they do it so well. We’re doing something different here.”
But Michael also notes that in the very near future the CBFF plans to bring in some big name actors. “I think what that does is, it pulls in a different aspect of the population. People are interested in being in the same room with famous actors and it will definitely increase our audience. It mainly creates a new audience for the film fest.”
Both Jen and Michael feel strongly that the event is “an incredibly generous and supportive community and we’re so grateful for our sponsors, staff and volunteers who have really put a lot of time into this and making it flourish.”
Tickets for the Crested Butte Film Festival are $12 per individual film, or buy a six-pack of any six films for price of five ($60), or better yet, a festival pass includes all films and selected parties $160. Information at cbfilmfest.org.