February 3, 2006

10,000 expected at Boulder International Film Festival

BOULDER – No need to jet to Cannes this year.

If you want to commingle with fellow cineastes, just drive downtown. The Boulder International Film Festival is back for its second year, offering once again screenings of a mix of documentaries, features, shorts, animation, adventure films and student films. The festival will occur at the Boulder Public Library and the Boulder Theater Feb. 16-19.

Last year more than 5,000 people attended the event, according to Kathy Beeck, the festival’s executive director This year she expects the number to double.

“We were surprised to come out in the black last year, since many first-year events do not,” she says. “We did that with all of the in-kind support from local businesses and our volunteers. We hope to grow attendance and revenues from word of mouth about last year.”

Last year’s festival garnered praise from film industry insiders. Curtis Hannum, the filmmaker behind “The Real Old Testament,” says Boulder has “the hippest audiences” he’s ever seen.

The festival’s Web site quotes Hannum, “They laughed at every obscure inside-industry joke and every esoteric Bible-verse joke that I had stuck in there that nobody else ever got. It’s as if I had been cloned 800 times, and that was my audience. It was like film festival heaven.”

Beeck says the festival’s staff selected the “best elements of the hundreds of film festivals” and blended them together into a “super-festival” of screenings, seminars and parties. Boulder is especially suited for the festival because the population appreciates “the arts in all its various forms.”

“I think the Pearl Street Mall is perfect, self-contained destination for all events of the festival,” she says. “And the city of Boulder has the perfect size and infrastructure to eventually accommodate huge film festival crowds over the coming years.”

The city ought to like it, too. Beeck says the Sundance Film Festival brings in $44 million per year to Park City, Utah and the Salt Lake City area, and that Toronto International Film Festival brings in many times that.

“We don’t have any numbers (on the economic benefit to Boulder), but it would make sense that downtown restaurants, bars and shops benefited from those 5,000 attendees visiting the downtown mall area last year.” She admits it would take years to hit numbers anywhere close to more established festivals, but adds that she thinks the potential is there.
Organizers specifically chose mid-February as a time of year when the city and local businesses “can really use an economic boost,” Beeck says. The plan is to always hold the festival on President’s Day weekend.

The not-to-miss film this year, according to Beeck, is “What Remains of Us,” a documentary by a Tibetan exile who smuggled a videotaped message into Tibet from the Dalai Lama calling for continuing peaceful resistance. The film follows ordinary people in Tibet talking to the outside world about their struggle and hopes. The star of the film, Kalsang Dolma, is bringing the film to Boulder from Quebec, Canada.

The festival is required to hire eight security guards with infrared goggles and metal detectors to ensure that no one films the movie and gives it to authorities who may want to punish the Tibetan people who speak openly to the filmmaker in the film.

The Boulder International Film Festival is a Colorado Film Society program, a nonprofit founded in 2003 by local filmmakers, sisters Kathy and Robin Beeck. Kathy is a producer for Robin Beeck Films and does fundraising and marketing for the society.

Kathy says the society works to promote and build a film community in Boulder through education, forums and networking opportunities to filmmakers and industry professionals, and that the festival is a way to do that.

In November, the society landed a $10,000 grant from the Denver Foundation, a community foundation that works to improve life in the Denver metro area through philanthropy.

The society, which has more than 100 volunteers and 14 staffers, also received grants last year from the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District and the Boulder Arts Commission, an agency of the Boulder City Council.

Beeck said the grants were “a great community endorsement” for the mission of the society and the festival to grow the film community in Boulder County and along the Front Range.

The society has received in-kind gifts such as advertising, reception space, hotel accommodations and equipment support totaling more than $150,000. And this year it has added some national sponsors such as the Sundance Channel, Kodak and Comcast.

The society has permanent headquarters on the Pearl Street Mall, where there are offices and space for meetings and workshops. The group holds networking receptions on the first Wednesday of every month at which local film people involved can meet and share experiences and information.
Visit www.biff1.com for more festival information.

BOULDER – No need to jet to Cannes this year.

If you want to commingle with fellow cineastes, just drive downtown. The Boulder International Film Festival is back for its second year, offering once again screenings of a mix of documentaries, features, shorts, animation, adventure films and student films. The festival will occur at the Boulder Public Library and the Boulder Theater Feb. 16-19.

Last year more than 5,000 people attended the event, according to Kathy Beeck, the festival’s executive director This year she expects the number to double.

“We were surprised to come out in the black last year, since…

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