A river, a choir, a ‘Man on Wire’ in Beaver Creek | VailDaily.com

A river, a choir, a ‘Man on Wire’ in Beaver Creek

Caramie Schnell
Beaver Creek, CO Colorado
Special to the DailyThe documentary 'Young at Heart' will be shown at the Vilar Center in Beaver Creek, Colorado on April 8

BEAVER CREEK, Colorado “-Documentary films allow people glimpses into worlds very far away from their own. And the tears and laughter, heartache and happiness they provoke often time feel a little more poignant since the stories are true ” not just brilliant fiction woven by skilled actors and directors.

In documentaries, “the director may take us to alien realms or magnify the startling minutiae of the ordinary,” the Vail Symposium writes in its winter 2009 program about the annual documentary film series. “Documentaries have the power to expand our minds and connect us to the world.”

The Vail Symposium’s annual Documentary Film series kicks off on Wednesday. Carrie Marsh, the Vail Symposium’s executive director, said this is the fourth year the symposium has offered the series.

“I think documentaries are an important part of cultural life in general,” Marsh said. “Documentaries bring a lens to realities that are happening across our world and I think that’s important to bring to the Vail Valley.”

Each year, Walter Chaw, a film critic for filmfreakcentral.net, attends the film series. This year he will introduce each of the films and lead a discussion where attendees are encouraged to ask questions.

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Chaw sees hundreds of films a year, which makes him more than qualified to help the Vail Symposium staff pick the films, Marsh said.

“He gives us great perspective on what films we should bring to the valley,” she said.

This year the films include “Up the Yangtze,” “Young at Heart” and finally “Man on Wire,” which won an Academy Award in January.

“Up the Yangtze,” 93 minutes, English and Mandarin

The film series kicks of Wednesday with “Up the Yangtze,” a 2007 film that follows a luxury cruise boat motoring up what’s known in China simply as “the river.” The mythic waterway is about to be transformed by the biggest hydroelectric dam in history “as well as the biggest engineering endeavor since the Great Wall. Chinese-Canadian filmmaker Yung Chang uses the momentous event to present a powerful look at contemporary China as well as a glimpse at the future.

This film won 10 awards, including a win at the San Francisco International festival.

“Young @ Heart,” 107 minutes, English

Picture a choir of senior citizens belting out the Ramones “I Wanna Be Sedated.” It certainly puts an interesting visual in your head. The film “Young @ Heart” focuses on a chorus from Northampton, Mass. that started in an elderly housing project in 1982. The group’s gained an international reputation over the years, performing 12 tours in Australia, Europe and Canada. The average age of the singers is 80. Their repertoire includes the Coldplay, The Clash, Talking Heads, The BeeGees and James Brown. The film concentrates on seven weeks of rigorous rehearsals for a 2006 concert.

This film won four awards, including one at the Warsaw International Film Festival.

“Man on Wire,” 90 minutes, English and French

James Marsh’s film “Man on Wire” focuses on highwire artist Philippe Petit who, in 1974, walked an illegally-rigged high wire between New York’s twin towers. The feat took six and a half years of dreaming and eight months in New York planning, scheming and smuggling. Petit, a Frenchman who as a child loved to climb, explained his thoughts before stepping onto the wire in the movie’s trailer online at manonwire.com.

“This is probably the end of my life as I step on that wire,” Petit said. “Death is very close. … Life should be lived on the edge. See everyday as a true challenge and then you live your life on a tightrope.”

After dancing on the wire for nearly an hour, 1,350 feet above the sidewalks, Petit was arrested, taken for psychological evaluation, and finally released. The event came to be known as “the artistic crime of the century.”

This film won 25 awards, including the Oscar for best documentary feature at February’s Academy Awards.

High Life editor Caramie Schnell can be reached at 970-748-2984 or cschnell@vaildaily.com.

What: Beaver Creek Documentary Film Series

When: “Up the Yangtze” at 7 p.m. on Wednesday; “Young @ Heart” at 7 p.m. on April 8; “Man on Wire” at 7 p.m. on April 15.

Where: Vilar Performing Arts Center, Beaver Creek

Cost: $11 per film or $30 for all three. $5 pre-paid parking at Villa Montane and Gerald R. Ford Hall structures

More information: Visit http://www.vailsymposium.org or call 970-476-0954

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