Vilar Performing Arts Center film series encourages audiences to take ’emotional rollercoaster together’ |

Vilar Performing Arts Center film series encourages audiences to take ’emotional rollercoaster together’

Tickets on sale now for film series on Thursdays starting Nov. 5

The first five films in the series coming to the Vilar Performing Arts Center are favorites chosen through a combination of previous positive reviews and the choices of Vilar Center staff, including "Far Out."
Teton Gravity Research | Special to the Daily

Even with all the challenges caused by COVID-19, the Vilar Performing Arts Center is still putting on a show.

The local arts center will be home for the Teton Gravity Research Film Series, running Thursdays from Nov. 5 to Dec. 17 with a new film to cap the series off on Dec. 22 and 23. Things will take a musical turn after Christmas with “S&M2: Metallica & San Francisco Symphony Film,” a concert film with showings set for Dec. 28 and 29.

Though this is the Vilar Center’s first major venture into the film series experience, organizers feel that it fits in with the overall mission of the arts center.

“Obviously, during a pandemic, we have to get creative,” said Duncan Horner, executive director of the Vilar Performing Arts Center. “I think the movies we’ve selected are meant to be enjoyed in the company of others. Some movies benefit from having an audience around you as you go on this emotional rollercoaster together.”

The Teton Gravity Research Film Series features six films produced by the company, which focuses on skiing and snowboarding adventure films featuring a cadre of well-known athletes. The first five are favorites chosen through a combination of previous positive reviews and the choices of Vilar Center staff: “Jeremy Jones’ Deeper,” “Jeremy Jones’ Further,” “Jeremy Jones’ Higher,” “Far Out,” and “Roadless.” It will cap off with Teton Gravity Research’s most recent film, a celebration of its 25th anniversary called “Make Believe.”

“Normally we have the new Warren Miller film at the end of November/beginning of December, so we knew there was an appetite for this type of event,” Horner said.

“Make Believe”
Teton Gravity Research | Special to the Daily

Metallica on the mind

The last film features the 2019 collaboration between Metallica and the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, who came together to perform two sold-out concerts that were seen by people all over the world.

“We’ve always tried to bring in unique collaborations like this, whether it’s in person or on film,” Horner said. “There’s been a lot of buzz about it on a local level, and we definitely need people to see this firsthand.”

Since the band also has a special significance to local audiences, tickets have been selling particularly well.

“Obviously a lot of people have Metallica top of mind in the valley, with the lead singer being a local,” he said. “At this rate, we may need to open up more shows.”

Finding ways to create community

If the film series does well overall, Horner said that the arts center would consider exploring the idea further in the future.

“We’ve toyed with it in the past, but it’s never really been an area we’ve focused on,” he said. “We’ll come out of this with a better idea of what the landscape is and what we can do in that direction.”  

He’s also aware, however, that entertainment is no longer the only concern for audiences.

“We’ve been putting together a safety operating plan since the day we shut down,” he said. “We’re operating safer than we’ve ever been.”

Among the list of safety measures is mandatory masks everywhere except at the bar, hand sanitizing stations, markings everywhere to encourage social distancing, limiting the number of tickets so there is plenty of distance between the seats and more.

“When people enter the building, we’re taking temperatures,” he said. “If they’re running a fever, we will refund them and turn them away.”

Despite the challenges, Horner feels it’s more important than ever for arts organizations to be there for the people they serve.

“The pandemic has forced people into isolation,” he said. “There’s a lot more distance between people than there’s ever been, and when arts and culture isn’t there to play a role in creating that togetherness it worsens the situation. We have to find more ways to create unity in the community by letting people share these life experiences together.”

Showings for the Teton Gravity Research Film Series will be at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m., with showings for “S&M2” at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10-$20 and are on sale now. For tickets and more information, visit

Jenniffer Wardell is an award-winning movie critic and member of the Denver Film Critics Society. Find her on Twitter at @wardellwriter or drop her a line at

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