Monday, February 6, 2012

The BIFF Saga: Year Four (Feb. 14 – 17, 2008)

Who dat? Festival director Robin Beeck at BIFF 2008. [Photo by Randy Malone]

Year Four comes back to us in bits and pieces. There was no overriding event or personality that year. Instead, BIFF 2008 was like a firework exploding in the night – a thousand flashes of color that lit up the landscape.

Here are some moments:

The premiere of Helen Hunt’s directorial debut, “Then She Found Me,” on opening night (Valentine’s Day, don’t you know!). Hazel Miller sang the night away.

Denver diva Hazel Miller entertains on BIFF's opening night in 2008.
Seeing Alex Gibney’s amazing and profoundly disturbing feature documentary, “Taxi to the Dark Side.” A week later, it won an Academy Award.

A breathtaking live performance by Boulder’sown blues master, Otis Taylor, in the wake of the documentary short “American Black Banjo Player,” filmed in conjunction with the recording of Taylor’s groundbreaking album “Recapturing the Banjo.”

Boulder bluesman Otis Taylor (far right) and ensemble. [Photo by Randy Malone]
“3 Peaks, 3 Weeks” – Michael Brown’s doc about 10 women climbers assaulting the three highest peaks in Africa brought together the intrepid mountaineers for the first time to see the completed film and interact with the audience.

The women who were the subject of Michael Brown's "3 Peaks, 3 Weeks."
Offsite, BIFF worked with the International Film Series to present the original cut of Richard Kelly’s enigmatic epic, the failed“Southland Tales” in Muenzinger Auditorium. That same weekend, Sergei Eisenstein’s epic historical drama “Alexander Nevsky” was screened at CU-Boulder’s Macky Auditorium, with the Boulder Philharmonic playing Prokofiev’s classic score live.

Over at the Filmmakers’ Panel, Film Threat’s Chris Gore led a hilarious and too-short session about how to get backing a film idea, which climaxed with taking aspiring filmmakers out of the audience and subjecting them to impromptu pitch sessions.

Among the five sell-out shows at the festival were “Les Paul: Chasing Sound” and “Dalai Lama Renaissance.” The latter was so popular that a second screening was added – a BIFF first!

The Festival’s powerful closing night film, “Stranded: I’ve Come from a Plane that Crashed on the Mountains”, a documentary about the infamous 1972 Andes plane crash, was followed with a Q&A session with Antonio “Tintin” Vizintin, a survivor of the horrific crash who traveled to Boulder from his home in Montevideo, Uruguay, to help present the film. The sold-out crowd was mesmerized as Tintin described the harrowing 73 days he spent in the Andes and the impact of the crash on his life.

Antonio “Tintin” Vizintin and the Vielher for "Stranded". [Photo by Randy Malone]
BIFF 2008 Award Winners:

Educator of the Year
Jim Palmer, CU-Boulder

Best Student Film

“The Replacement Child,” Justin Lerner, director (U.S.)

Most InspirationalFilm

“The Singing Revolution,” Jim Tusty and Maureen Castle,directors (U.S.)

Best Comedy

“The Job,” Jonathan Browning, director (U.S.)

Best Colorado Film

“Iron Ladies of Liberia,” Daniel Junge and Siatta ScottJohnson, directors (Liberia/U.S.)

Best Adventure Film

“3 Peaks, 3 Weeks,” Michael Brown, director (U.S.)

Best Animation

“The Fog,” Emilio Ramos, director (Mexico/Spain)

Best Short Film

“Tanghi Argentini,” Guido Thys, director (Belgium)

Best ShortDocumentary

“In Times of War: Ray Parker’s Story,” Mark and ChristineBonn, directors (U.S.)

Best FeatureDocumentary

“War Dance,” Andrea Nix and Sean Fine, directors(Uganda/U.S.)

Best Feature Film

“Charlie Bartlett,” Jon Poll, director (U.S.)

Grand Prize

“Stranded: I've Come from a Plane that Crashed on theMountains,” Gonzalo Arijon, director (France)

DiMe Time: What this year holds at the Digital Media Symposium

Two-time Oscar nominee Don Hahn, producer of "Beauty and the Beast" and "The Lion King," being interviewed after DiMe 2011. Don is back for his third year, and will be our moderator for DiMe 2012. [Photo by Randy Malone]

By Kristen Daly

BIFF DigitalCommunications Team

[Editor’s note: A lot of the joy of being part of the Boulder International Film Festival all these years has been to see it grow anddiversify – and to meet new people with wonderful talents to share. Here’s alovely piece by one of our new DigiComm Commandos, Kristen Daly, about the amazing new aspects of this year’s Digital Media Symposium. Here are links toinformation about the keynote speakers, and about the breakout sessions. Enjoy!– Brad Weismann]

Sundance has NewFrontiers, South by Southwest has Interactive and BIFF has DiMe, the DigitalMedia Symposium.

Boulder has become a center of cutting-edge techcreatives and DiMe, in its third year, highlights this bounty. Bringingtogether media entrepreneurs, artists, venture capitalists, and enthusiasts,the interactive symposium nurtures networking and the sharing of new ideaswhile showcasing those industries that are on the cutting edge of technology.

Eye candy -- checking out RealD's 3D technology at DiMe 2011. [Photo by Randy Malone]

In this burgeoning world of transmedia, DiMestrives to identify commonalities among different players in digital media andfind ways they can work together. This year’s symposium will feature leaders inthe field of animation, digi-comics, gaming, social media, and digital branding.For the first time, DiMe will be introducing panelists speaking on the excitingnew developments in digital media in the realms of sports and music. Some ofthe participants include Dr. Alvy Ray Smith, two-time Academy Award-winner andco-founder of Pixar, local legend Micah Baldwin, CEO of TechStar companyGraphicly, and Academy Award-winning producer Don Hahn as moderator in histhird year participating with DiMe. From composers to geospatial modelers tosoftware developers and market strategists, DiMe is bringing in diverse perspectivesto shine light on this mutable, ever-evolving industry.

Boulder is known for its collegial atmosphere incomparison to other centers of high-tech media and the symposium features tworoundtables -- “Digitools of the Trade” and “Skills for Success in a DigitalWorld” -- as well as two quick networking sessions and a reception andnetworking following the event.

From left, Mark Lyons of Idol Minds, Kurt Hall of National CineMedia, and Joshua Greer of RealD chat during DiMe 2011. [Photo by Randy Malone]

Founder Kathy Beeckis excited about the digital skill sets roundtable as she says that employersoften think they have to bring in employees from outside Colorado to fulfill certain skill sets. Asshe says the goal is to “identify what that skill set is and how we can buildthat skill set in employees right here in Colorado.”

DiMe is acollaboration between the Colorado Office of Film, Television & Media(COFTM), the Boulder Convention and Visitors Bureau (BCVB), and BIFF. Thisyear, DiMe received the first grant given by the Boulder Arts Commission underthe Arts and Business Collaborative heading. As Beeck says, “We think it is aperfect fit and couldn't be more excited about receiving the grant from BAC andcontinuing to build this synergy between arts and business, which we are reallytrying to do here in the Bouldercommunity.”

The afternoon willbe interactive and illuminating. DiMe is all about bringing people together tocelebrate the merging of creativity and technology that makes this area sovibrant in the field of digital entertainment. A couple of years ago Don Hahnand local filmmaker Michael Brown met while participating in DiMe panels. Thisyear their collaboration film, the feature documentary “High Ground,” will haveits world premiere at DiMe.

The event is Friday,February 17 at the St. Julien Hotel in Boulder.Registration and check-in will open at 12:30 p.m. before a prompt start fromour Keynote at 1pm. Find out more at

And will they be serving treats like this again at the networking session? Mmmm . . . you'll have to stop by and see! [Photo by Randy Malone]