Crested Butte Music Festival returns

…with renewed zest September 21-25

[  By Dawne Belloise  ]

After a hiatus brought on by the COVID pandemic, there will be an in-person return this year for the Crested Butte Film Festival. Recently named one of the “25 Coolest Film Festivals in the World” by MovieMaker Magazine, throngs of movie lovers will flock to Crested Butte next week to attend this year’s Crested Butte Film Festival (CBFF), with the added bonus of the reopening of the beloved Majestic Theatre for the event. 

The event begins Wednesday, September 21 and runs for five days. Films will also be shown at the Crested Butte Center for the Arts. In an innovative move to continue through COVID, the film festival, now in its 12th year, went virtual in 2020, offering passes which allowed attendees to watch from home on TVs or personal devices. The virtual idea was so popular, and with people still skittish about all the variants of COVID, the CB Film Fest is offering both virtual and in-person passes to the screenings this year. 

Co-creator of the film fest Michael Brody says it’s all about evolving. “In 2020, we had a completely virtual festival and it worked really well for us. People were staying at home and watching. Last year was our first hybrid festival,” he explains. The “hybrid” fest had those attending in-person at the CB Center of the Arts while others were virtually attending from home. “Connor Hagen’s film really helped to sustain the numbers in 2020,” he says. 

Brody feels that this year is also looking good for both excellent films and attendee numbers. Virtual watching is good for 20 days. In other words, virtual pass holders can view all the films beginning September 21 through October 9 at their own leisure. Virtual passes are purchased through CBFF website which then enables the passholder to watch on a TV, computer, laptop or personal device.  

CBFF chooses films that locals can enjoy, relate to, or are thought provoking, as well as just excellent entertainment. Specifically, Brody says, “I think because we’re an activist community, we have a strong environmental, counterculture and hippie base so our documentary features play very well in CB. Also knowing that Buttians love a parade, on Friday, September 23, at 11:30 a.m., there’ll be a horse parade from First Street and Elk Avenue to the CB Center for the Arts. The parade is to introduce and highlight the film The Long Rider starring Felipe Leite and Clara Davel, who will lead the procession to the Center for the 1 p.m. screening in which Felipe rides horseback 2,500 miles from Calgary to Brazil. (Pedestrians are welcome in the parade but please, no bikes.)

The CBFF is also trying to develop an audience for cutting edge, sophisticated, foreign language films, Brody says. “This year, two of our biggest and best films are in foreign languages – one in Korean, Broker, which is an interesting fictional story about a woman dropping off her baby in a baby drop-off box. The broker is the main character who is trying to make a profit from the selling of unwanted infants to couples who can afford it. The other film is in Romanian and called R.M.N. which is an acronym for Romania but also an X-Ray process which is referred to in the film.” There are also Hebrew, Finnish, Croatian and Hong Kong films. All foreign films have English subtitles.  

Mutually and simultaneously, the Majestic Theatre and the CB Film Festival reached out to one other and Brody says excitedly, “The big news for this festival and Crested Butte is the reopening of the Majestic Theatre, which was spearheaded by the staff who used to work there and Carrie Wallace as the main motivator. People always asked what was going on with the Majestic, but she was able to sign the lease on August 1 and it was perfect timing for us. It was such a gift because we needed another venue to show the number of films we wanted to show. We didn’t have enough screens so now we get to show six more films, which is huge for us.” Films at the Majestic will screen both Saturday and Sunday, September 24 and 25.

Also, once the CBFF knew the Majestic was opening, they were able to program a few family-friendly and easily accessible films, like a Texas wildlife film, and another film about panthers living in the Florida Everglades. Through a generous donor, all six shows at the Majestic are free and meant for locals and passholders alike. Brody feels it’s a way to bring people out and get them going to movies again, into the collective experience of watching movies together once again. 

One of the exciting events of the festival is that home-grown Buttian, Sara Murphy, returns with her co-produced film Licorice Pizza at the CB Center for the Arts, September 25, at 7 p.m. Murphy was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture in 2022. She’ll be introducing the film and answering audience questions afterwards. It’s the closing event of the festival.  

There is also a first ever Locals Film Showcase – a program of both documentary and narrative, feature length and short films on the big screen. The event features local filmmakers, Benjamin Swift, Mark and Jenn Reeb, Laura Yale, Forest Woodward and Ben Knight, and featuring film participant, Jeff Banks.

Brody tells that his personal favorite film in this year’s festival is I Love My Dad. It’s a story about a father trying to get back into his son’s life, who has shut him out of all communication. The father decides the only way to reach his son is by taking on the false profile of a fictional attractive woman, and they begin relating to each other through this made-up person named Becca. “It leads to all sorts of weird situations, imaginative landscapes and awkwardness but it’s funny, deep and real,” Brody notes. “It’s really interesting in that the young man who stars in it, James Morosini, also wrote, directed and stars in it and it’s based on an actual experience with his dad.” I Love My Dad plays Friday, September 23, at 7 p.m. at the CB Center for the Arts. 

There are more than 80 films spanning the categories of narrative, documentary, outdoor adventure, children’s and short films over the five-day event. Additional programming sprinkled throughout the festival includes filmmaker talks, panel discussions, lively parties and engaging “Beyond the Screen” experiences. Brody says about the festival, “It’s this opportunity to come together as a community to watch films. The Majestic has been closed so it’s an opportunity to watch together which is important, I think, because it allows us to regather and ends a bit of isolation that we’ve perhaps been feeling for the past two and a half years. And the Majestic plays a big part in that because it’s a place to gather again, to bring your kids, go on a date or be with your best friends.” 

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