Vail Film Fest 101: 6 ways to get the most out of the festival |

Vail Film Fest 101: 6 ways to get the most out of the festival

The 15th annual Vail Film Festival will celebrate female filmmakers with close to 50 films being shown in four days, April 5-8. The Vail Film Festival will include many Colorado premiers, as well as a few world premiers.
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Every spring, the Vail Film Festival brings a wide variety of engaging, thought-provoking, emotional and fresh films to the mountains. And with those films come hundreds of people, from enthusiasts and amateurs to experienced filmmakers and celebrities.

It’s a whirlwind of creativity and, as with all exciting things, it can get a little intimidating. So here’s our handy guide to making the most of your 2018 Vail Film Festival weekend, returning Thursday to Sunday, April 5-8.

See something unique

Obviously, the main fare of any film festival is the films themselves. What makes these festivals, including Vail’s, an experience elevated beyond a simple trip to the local cinema is the fact that these are films you won’t likely experience anywhere else.

The independent film business is booming, but where to catch them all? Film festivals are an excellent location to add some texture and depth to your movie-watching docket. Each year, Vail presents a number of world- and Colorado-premieres.

So while you may later see these films pop up on Netflix or some other streaming venues, there’s nothing quite like catching it on the big screen before anyone else.

Talk with people

There are hours and hours of films to take in at the Vail Film Festival, but they won’t mean much if you don’t take time to process them.

Once you walk away from those theater seats, take a seat at a nearby cafe or park bench and hold a discussion with your friends. If you’ve attended solo, then see if anyone else leaving the theater wants to chat — they likely will, if they’re not rushing off to another film. It’s a great way to meet your fellow film enthusiasts and share one of your passions.

Often you will see people involved with the films at the screenings as well. If you get a chance, then greet them and let them know what you thought. They are often more than willing to discuss their passion projects. You may learn some interesting insights by chatting up the cinematographer, or the film editor, that you would not have gleaned otherwise. When else will you have the actual people who worked on the film right there in front of you?

There are also a number of Q&A panels at this year’s festival, so be on the lookout for those as well.

Don’t forget to eat

It’s easy to get caught up in the schedule of film-after-film-after-film. If you need a break, then there are a number of good restaurants and coffee shops nearby to fill you up.

If you’re looking for something a more entertaining than a simple meal, consider one of the many Taste of Vail events that will be occurring at the same time. Find out more at

Go to special events

In addition to the Q&A sessions after screenings, the festival puts on a few other special events to enhance the experience and scratch that creative itch.

This year, the festival’s women-in-film panel will focus on “Getting from script to screen,” centering around the panelists’ personal creative filmmaking journeys. They’ll share their experiences, tips on the movie industry and will participate in an audience Q&A session afterward.

Also on Saturday is a free storytelling workshop, led by Colorado director Diane Bell, for those who have projects in their heads and hearts, but don’t know how to get them out.

Both events are a great chance to get advice straight from the experts.

See the shorts

Don’t have time to spend all day, much less all weekend, watching movies? Never fear — you can still get a bite-sized portion of the film festival experience.

Both Friday and Saturday feature short film blocks. At about an hour-and-a-half run time each, these blocks feature up to eight short-length films. You’ll get to see a number of films you wouldn’t see elsewhere, plus if you have a little extra time, you can stick around for a Q&A session with some of the filmmakers as well. It’s a win-win!

Mingle after the show

In the evenings, the film festival has a number of entertainment offerings.

Depending on the pass you have, you can attend these events with the filmmakers themselves. The Opening Night Party takes place on Thursday and is a good chance to get a feel for who is there and get some viewing suggestions.

Friday features a filmmakers reception at 10th Mountain Whiskey.

The Closing Night party on Saturday is another opportunity to discuss your favorite films so far, and line up any that you haven’t seen for your Sunday viewing schedule.

For more information about the Vail Film Festival and its schedule this year, go to

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