Breckenridge Film Festival

Film lovers and fans of fall foliage can converge in Breckenridge September 15-18 for the 41st annual Breck Film Fest. This year’s festival will include 82 films and 7 world premieres. Attending the festival is a great chance to meet and talk with filmmakers, attend forums and Q & A’s, and enjoy parties at local restaurants each night following the Feature Film. 

A highlight of this year’s film lineup:

Featured Films/Events: (includes filmmakers in attendance)

Drinkwater: Opening Night at The Riverwalk; Stephen Campanelli (director) Louriza Tronco (actress), Luke Fraser (writer) and Graham Fraser (executive producer) in attendance – Q&A After Film: Drinkwater is a quirky homage to 80’s teen coming-of-age films about friendship, parental mishaps, and trying your best to survive high school. In small-town British Columbia, Canada, awkward teen Mike Drinkwater has trouble fitting in. Hank, his offbeat father, spends more time living in his own delusional world than paying attention to his son. Mike’s lack of direction takes a turn when he meets Wallace, a new girl from the US. Over the course of Mike’s final semester, Wallace helps Mike train for an annual cross-country race, while Mike guides Wallace through an unfamiliar, Canadian experience. The film is filled with a balance of humor and emotional moments that mirror our main characters’ friendship. Drinkwater is a love letter to small-town life and quirky family moments that have resonated with audiences for decades. Although the film is set in 2020, it harks back to simpler times and captures the nostalgia of 80’s small-town Canada.

Exposure: Friday Adventure Reel at Riverwalk: As the polar ice cap melts, reaching the North Pole has become increasingly dangerous. Yet an unlikely expedition of women – including a mirthful Muslim chaplain, a shy French scientist, a defiant Qatari princess, and 8 others – have set an audacious goal of skiing to the pole. Exposure follows the team as they train over 2 years, and finally reach the high Arctic, where they navigate open leads of water, polar bear threats, and -40-degree temperatures in an extraordinary story of resilience and global citizenry.

Gringa: Directors Marny Eng and EJ Foerster in attendance (Q&A After Film) Large Marge Bickford, “Butt too big, boobs too small—generation XL”, navigates the halls of her high school and the chalked lines of its soccer field with the same sense of failure and dread. This is not a happy kid. Marge is most often alone but not necessarily lonely, just resigned. Life is passing her by, and she doesn’t seem to mind… until her nearly perfect Mom is tragically killed in a car accident.  “Gringa” is a heartwarming story of healing and second chances. There is a lot of work to do. Dad drinks too much and his daughter’s self-esteem is in the toilet—along with most of what she eats thanks to her battle with bulimia.

Wild Beauty: World Premiere: Filmmaker in Attendance; Gov Polis invited and may attend (Q&A After Film) An immersive journey into the world of wild horses, Wild Beauty illuminates both the profound beauty, and desperate plight currently faced by the wild horses in the Western United States. Filmmaker Ashley Avis (Disney’s Black Beauty) and crew go on a multi-year expedition to uncover the truth in hopes to protect them, before wild horses disappear forever.

RiverClosing Night at Riverwalk Audience Award for Best International Feature at this year’s 31st annual Florida Film Festival Melbourne International Film Festival – 2021 A journey from source to sea, River is a cinematic and musical odyssey that explores the remarkable relationship between humans and rivers. Narrated by Willem Dafoe. 

Signs of Love: Saturday Night Feature at Riverwalk: Hopper Penn in Attendance Q&A After the Show SIGNS OF LOVE takes place in the Port Richmond section of Philadelphia, a tough neighborhood where cultures mix but the law of the streets still rules. Hopper Jack Penn stars as Frankie, a young man from north Philly who dreams of a better life. Frankie struggles to provide a normal existence for his teen nephew; Frankie just hopes they can escape the traps of petty crime and substance abuse his father has fallen into. When Frankie meets Jane (Zoë Bleu), a deaf girl from a well-off nearby family, he suddenly sees hope for love, and a better life – but only if he can escape the predicament of the streets and the influence of his older sister (Dylan Penn). 

Girls in STEM: In partnership with Keystone Science School and sponsored by Lenovo, Breck Film hosts a weekend of workshops for 3rd-8th grade girls. Students are paired with attending filmmakers and by the end of the weekend create their own film, walk the red carpet and share their film on the big screen to family and friends.

FREE Children’s Program: Saturday, September 17 – Breck Film hosts a free Children›s Program at The Riverwalk Center. Doors open at 10:30 am; animated shorts screen at 11am followed by a free craft session with Breckenridge Creative Arts.

This festival started in 1981, and I have enjoyed being a part of it for the last ten years. I began my involvement as a film reviewer in the winter months and progressed to being on the selection committee in the comedy section. I also volunteer as a filmmaker liaison during the festival, guiding filmmakers around town and answering their questions. There is a plethora of volunteer opportunities available for those who like to dig into the inner workings of a festival. If you are interested in volunteering, email breckfilmvolunteer@gmail.com. 

If you enjoy watching high quality films in a beautiful mountain community surrounded by the changing colors of the aspen trees, passes are now on sale. For more information and to buy your festival tickets visit breckfilm.org.

Lisa J. Shultz is an art and culture columnist for The Villager since 2020. Find out more about her and her books at LisaJShultz.com or call her at 303-881-9338.