Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Film festival 101: a guide to BIFF and Boulder

OK, you've got your tickets ordered. Your tux is pressed. You're ready to be amazed. You're going to all four days of the Boulder International Film Festival. You're going to see everyone and do everything. Without the aid of illegal drugs.


Here is our grab bag of tips, tricks and references for first-timers, culled from the memories and expertise of veteran BIFF staffers and festivarians:

1. Boulder

Welcome to the People's Republic. Boulder, Colorado has a reputation as "25 square miles surrounded by reality." This is true.

It is stereotpyped as a bastion of outdoors-loving, super-healthy, eco-conscious, social-activist, medial-marijuana-dispensary-frequenting, hippy dippy trippy tie-dyed, bandana-wearing dreadlocked Croc-lovers.
This is NOT true -- some of us don't own a pair of Crocs. (And there are a few Republicans.)

Actually, Boulder is much more diverse and complex than that. Here are five websites that, collectively, tell you everything you need to know about the city: it history, food, lodging, recreation, and more:

City of Boulder
Colorado Convention and Visitors Bureau -- Boulder
Boulder Chamber of Commerce

Downtown Boulder Inc.
GetBoulder (courtesy Boulder Magazine)

2. Weather

Here's link to the National Weather Service's Boulder page: looks pretty good for this weekend, by and large. Still, the adage is true: "If you don't like the weather around here, wait 15 minutes." Colorado weather is CHANGEABLE. It can be 70 degrees and sunny on a Februrary day, then change to blizzard mode by sunset. Whether you are flying in, driving in, or walking over from your house, wear layers, please. It's bulky and uncomfortable, but it's handy to have a sweater or jacket to throw on in the evening.

3. Altitude

We are 5,430 feet above sea level. That's more than a mile high, (so there, Denver!). Unless you live around her or are Lance Armstrong, the altitude will affect you -- and four days is not long enough to acclimatize yourself. Take it easy -- pace yourself -- DRINK WATER. Not coffee, not soda, H2O. This is the most effective way to keep from becoming fatigued, disoriented and nauseated. Unless of course that' the feeling you're after.

4. Boulder International Film Festival

We hope that our customer service is exceptional! We have a number of locales, reference points and services to help you with any and all questions related to BIFF. First and foremost, there's the website. It contains all the BIFF info, including an online program, maps, an FAQ sheet and more.

Second, look around town and you're likely to spot a paper program. Many people like to carry these around and keep tracks of things that way. If you don't, try our mobile site! It's new this year and contains much the same info as the program.

Our Info Booth is located this year at The Tent, at 14th and Pearls Streets downtown, near to all the festival venues. It is open during festival hours, and staffed by friendly and knowledgeable people. Also, our Festival Registration suite is located on the first floor of the St. Julien Hotel at 900 Walnut St. It's where VIPS check in, volunteers start their day, and special guests cruise by. It's open today until 6 p.m., Thursday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

For live updates as to ticket availability, photos, news items and breaking events, you can turn to our Facebook page (Boulder International Film Festival) and Twitter feed (BoulderFilmFest and #BIFF1)-- these will be buzzing throughout the festival. And of course we are creating a file of stories here on our blog to help serve as a handy reference guide!

5. Survival

At a film festival, two virtues are paramount -- prioritizing and organizing. You can't possibly see everything, no matter how hard you try (buying a VIP pass is still the best way to get in and out of screenings quickly!). You've got to make a plan and stick to it. However, sprinkle in some random choices with the films you are determined to see -- sometimes it's the ones we didn't expect anything from that blew us away most profoundly.

Maintain energy. Fortunately, all our venues are close together, and the way is punctuated by eateries. As Grandma always says, KEEP EATING. Don't wait until late afternoon to dine.

Pace yourself. Give yourself a few time-holes to sit down, take a breather, chat about what you've seen, and clear your mind for the next film encounter. Don't party like a rock star on Opening Night! Save something for Closing Night, please. Put your feet up periodically, and really rest when you can. Wear comfortable shoes!

That's it! Welcome, and enjoy yourself!

A note of thanks from our BIFF volunteers!

Dear Friends,

Thank you so much for your support of the Boulder International Film Festival. Without your help, these amazing films that help educate, integrate and inspire our local community would not be seen.

The festival is this weekend, February 17 - 20 - what does your film "dance card" look like?

One of BIFF's most unique aspects honors our Boulder-activist sensibility. BIFF's Call 2 Action films and programming marries selected films' issues and causes with local community groups' efforts. Be sure to check out these very special films at, and add YOUR voice to the conversation!

Here's a friendly reminder to get your tickets now, as many shows can sell out. Tickets are available on the website http://www.biff1.comand at the Boulder Theater box office and seating is limited. Tickets are $12/adults, $10/students/seniors, and special pricing is available for groups of 10 or more.

As an extra incentive, anyone with a BIFF ticket stub can attend the Keen Footwear Happy Hour, Friday and Saturday, Feb 18 and 19, from 4:00 - 6:00 at the Lazy Dog in Boulder for FREE wine, beer and appetizers. Also, they'll receive a FREE BIFF appetizer by presenting their ticket stub to any one of these great sponsoring Boulder restaurants: Centro Latin Kitchen & Refreshment Palace, Happy Noodle House, Jax Fish House Boulder, The West End Tavern, Zolo Southwestern Grill.
So buy your tickets, start tweeting, posting and shouting out your love for BIFF. We're sending the love right back at you!
The entire volunteer staff at the Boulder International Film Festival thanks you.

See you at the movies!