10 must-see movies at Vail film festival
VAIL, Colorado -In seven short years the Vail Film Festival has come a long way. It’s attracted major stars every year and for the first time this year, has expanded to Beaver Creek. This year’s festival will include more than 90 films. That’s a big jump from last year when festival producers scaled back screenings to almost half that number. Once again, the promoters of the Vail Film Festival have been kind enough to give us a sneak peek at many of the films being presented this year. The following is our top recommendations. Basically, they’re the must-see movies – from our point of view, of course. We hope you enjoy them as much as we did.”Race Walkers”If you’re a fan of films like “This Is Spinal Tap,” “A Mighty Wind” or “Best In Show” then “Race Walkers” should be right up your alley. It’s a mockumentary about brothers Jeb and Joel Callahan who strive to become the best in the sport of race walking. Never heard of it? Neither has the rest of the world. The brothers live with their mother in her trailer in Golden, Colo. where the film was almost entirely shot. Led by their wheelchair-bound coach Chuck Kuel, the trio tries to work their way to the Olympic trials in Eugene, Ore. to preserve the legend of their deceased father, an accomplished race walker himself. The brother’s on-screen dynamic keeps the movie moving along briskly and the supporting cast helps carry it over the finish line with no shortage of punch lines and dry humor.See it: 2:45 p.m. Friday (with a Q&A) at Vail Plaza Hotel or 3:15 p.m. Sunday at Vail Plaza Hotel. “The Hungry Ghosts”Although Michael Imperioli is probably best known for his role as Christopher Moltisanti on “The Sopranos,” his directorial debut comes with the feature film “The Hungry Ghosts.” The film follows five interlocking characters and the demons that keep clawing at their souls. In Tibetan Buddhism, a hungry ghost is a person who tries to satisfy their spiritual needs by physical means. Imperioli does a brilliant job presenting sympathetic characters who struggle to overcome their own flaws and find peace. The five characters story lines intersect on the dark streets of New York in this superbly acted look at what makes us all human, even if we’re not happy.See it: 2 p.m. Sunday at the Vilar Center in Beaver Creek. “Inventing Adam”There comes a time in everyone’s life when they must decide which path to follow: the easy one that offers little personal reward or the hard one that’s full of obstacles but will lead to happiness and peace of mind. In the feature film “Inventing Adam” that is exactly the choice facing Adam, a patent lawyer living in California who’s about to turn 30 and get married to the wrong girl. But before his birthday, Adam has a chance to get away to his hometown of Baton Rouge, Louisiana to catch up with his old friends who he feels have all become nobodys. He soon realizes they might just have it all figured out. Adam finds out that sometimes it takes going home to realize what you’ve been missing your whole life. Featuring comedic elements similar to “Garden State,” “American Pie” and “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” “Inventing Adam” has something for everyone including solid humor, relationships, beautiful scenery and great acting.See it: 1:30 p.m. Friday (with a Q&A) at Vail Plaza Hotel and 1:15 p.m. Sunday (with a Q&A) at Vail Plaza Hotel. “Moustachette”Dialogue drives this hilarious short film about taking control of your destiny while putting up with crappy friends, cheating girlfriends and wrong food orders at the local diner. Directed by Patrick Stump, “Moustachette” is quick-paced and full of absurdity, from Ryan’s (Casper Amity) fantasy of being a celebrated artist for his masterpiece called “Moustachette” to his friend Patrick (Eugene Arlington) who sleeps in the back seat of his car while his girlfriend gets it on with another guy in their living room, “Moustachette” feels like an early Kevin Smith film with plenty of self loathing and comedy mined from everyday life. See it: Part of Shorts 2, showing at 12:20 p.m. Friday at Ford Hall in Beaver Creek. “Ana’s Playground”In an unidentified war-torn country Ana plays soccer on a pavement “playground” with her friends. In the background, explosions rock the sky and gun fire is as common as a car horn in New York City rush hour. When their soccer ball goes over a barrier into hostile territory, Ana is picked to retrieve it. Once she’s exposed, a sniper opens fire on her and she must keep her wits while trying to get her ball back and escape with her life. Director Eric D. Howell creates plenty of tension in his short film “Ana’s Playground,” with heart-pounding action and suspense during the sniper scenes and a gorgeous use of bright colors that are a stark contrast to the bleak surroundings. “Ana’s Playground” is about fighting for what you love no matter how futile.See it: Part of Shorts 5, showing at 3:45 p.m. Friday at Vail Plaza Hotel. Includes a Q&A. “The New Tenants””The New Tenants” is an Oscar winning short film by Joachim Back with a sweet surprise around every corner. What starts as a standard day of smoking cigarettes, reading newspapers and arguing with each other quickly turns sour for the new tenants of an apartment building. An elderly neighbor interrupts, knocking on the door and asking for flour. The next time there’s a knock at the door, the request isn’t so friendly and the two quickly discover their new apartment holds some dark secrets and that they are now caught in its web of violence and danger.See it: Part of Shorts 1, showing 1 p.m. Saturday at Ford Hall in Beaver Creek. “When the Dragon Swallowed the Sun”What happens when an independent nation is swallowed up by another, leaving the overtaken to try and defend their culture, way of life and people from oppression and tyranny? This question is explored in the documentary “When the Dragon Swallowed the Sun,” directed by Dirk Simon and featured in this year’s new Activism Showcase. During the 1950s, China invaded and took over Tibet, claiming it for its own. In the ensuing years the Tibetan people have tried to regain their independence in vain. Simon captures original footage of the Tibetan people from inside the country as well as the occupation of the Chinese army. The film includes interviews with Tibetans, Chinese and Americans on both sides of the dispute and the Dali Lama. Archival footage of clashes between the two countries army’s all help to bring the story of a nation in turmoil together and present a larger understanding of a country and its people in political limbo.See it: 4:15 p.m. Friday at Ford Hall in Beaver Creek and at 12:50 p.m. Saturday at Vail Plaza Hotel. Includes a Q&A with the filmmaker Dirk Simon. “The Godmother”There’s a good chance that you’ve dated someone whose parents you couldn’t stand, but that dislike gets taken to a whole new level in the short film “The Godmother.” See what happens when Danny’s girlfriend thinks he’s cheating on her and her mother convinces her to hire a hitman to wipe him out. This kinetic comedy is full of gunplay, fist fights and couples counseling and a very strong lesson about what can happen when miscommunication between those we love gets in the way of how we really feel.See it: As part of Student Films 2, showing at 11 a.m. Saturday at Ford Hall in Beaver Creek. “Split Estate”What would happen if a natural gas company decided to start drilling on your land, just hundreds of feet from your door? That’s what’s happening right now to many Coloradans living in Garfield County, just west of happy valley. Director Debra Anderson sets out to find the truth behind the Split Estate phenom – where you own everything on top of the land, but not the mineral rights underneath – that many landowners are coming to understand. This is a frightening documentary and one that every Coloradan should watch. Highlighted in the film are interviews with politicians, representatives from the natural gas industry, people who are fighting major health problems and more.See it: 5 p.m. Friday at Vail Plaza Hotel and 5:30 p.m. Saturday at Vail Plaza Hotel.”Bomber”When an old British man decides to visit Germany to apologize to the people of a tiny village he once dropped bombs during World War II, he doesn’t realize what he’s getting into. Soon, he’s driving across Europe in a van with his wife, whom he can’t stand, and his son, whom he can’t understand. Not a whole lot happens in this feature film by Paul Cotter, but that doesn’t make it any less interesting. This is a family that we can all relate to – complete with the generation gaps that keep it interesting. But in the end, there’s a love that can never be broken thanks to the blood in their veins.See it: 8 p.m. Thursday at the Vilar Center in Beaver Creek, 9 p.m. Friday (with a Q&A) at Vail Plaza Hotel and 9 p.m. Saturday at Vail Plaza Hotel.
This year the Vail Film Festival, which begins Thursday and runs through Sunday, will take place at venues in both Vail and Beaver Creek. More than 90 films will screen at the festival. Films will be shown at the Vilar Performing Arts Center and Ford Hall, both in Beaver Creek, and at the Vail Plaza Hotel in Vail. The opening night film, “A Shine of Rainbows,” staring Connie Nielson and Aidan Quinn, will show at Vail Mountain School. For more information on tickets, movie showtimes or the festival, visit http://www.vailfilmfestival.org.