Beaver Creek Summer Film Series combines food and film |

Beaver Creek Summer Film Series combines food and film

Jeff Leininger
Vail, CO, Colorado
Special to the Daily

BEAVER CREEK ” Whether you’re a foodie or a film enthusiast, the odds are pretty good that you’re naturally adventurous ” you crave raw and tingling emotions, you’re turned on by sensuous delicacies, and you love being transported to far-off and maybe even exotic locations. An exceptional Friday night for you may include spoiling the palette with a 12-ounce Rib Eye and a flourless chocolate souffle, or cleansing the soul with Ingmar Bergman’s “The Seventh Seal” followed by one of Katsuhiro Otomo’s classic Japanese animes.

If this profile comes close to hitting the mark, then perhaps the 2007 Beaver Creek Summer Film Series had your inner glutton in mind when they envisioned this year’s theme, “International Films and Foods ” Indulge in a Sensory Treat.” Starting a four-week run on Wednesday, the series will screen a critically-acclaimed film each week that may not have made it to one of Vail’s big screens. In addition, scrumptious food inspired by each of the movies will be served. Local restaurants will be providing the fare.

The Vail Symposium is presenting the film series and Executive Director Fraidy Aber says that she empathizes with film lovers.

“Sitting through a film on an empty stomach, no matter how good it is, is always a drag. Cinema’s triple threat of popcorn, Junior Mints and Dr Pepper just doesn’t do the trick. So, for the second year in a row, we’ve decided to present great international gems and serve up some yummy cuisine that spotlights our local chefs.”

This week’s “Chungking Express” (1994) by Chinese director Kaw Wai Won is a romance and “comedy-lite,” tracing the unusual and zany relationships of two policemen. When the lights go up, Vail’s May Palace will be serving traditional Chinese cuisine and their ever-popular bubble tea.

If this sounds like a perfect evening, then the next three Wednesdays will also whet your appetite.

On Aug. 29, the series features a shocking and suspenseful film, “The Return” (Russia, 2003) along with classic Russian eats, and then the following week is the elegant love story, “3-Iron” (South Korea, 2004) paired with traditional Korean cuisine. The series closes with “Pan’s Labyrinth,” (Spain, 2006) a Spanish-language fantasy film that received considerable buzz last year and even scored a few Academy Award nominations and Golden Globes for its spellbinding portrayal of Franco’s regime. That evening, plan on leaving room for some of the best traditional Spanish cuisine that the Valley offers.

Returning this year to lead the discussion of all four films is Denver-based film-critic Walter Chaw. A frequent contributor to LA Weekly, as well as a weekly guest on Sirius Radio’s “Bill Press Show,” and soon to be premiering his work in “The Onion,” Chaw is known for his hard-biting commentary and sometimes acerbic point of view.

Aber says that inviting Chaw back to the festival was an easy choice.

“Walter is the jewel in the crown of the film festivals. He is a such a candid and sometimes provocative critic, but his discussions are much more than that, they are almost a critic’s class. He gives the audience references and parallels to other films and directors; he asks us to point out our emotional responses to different scenes, and as is always the case, our impressions lead the discussions.”

Although Chaw watches more than 450 films year, and his tastes span different genres and time periods, his approach to film is decidedly postmodern. In evaluating a film he draws heavily from critical reception theory, or in laymen’s terms, he believes that a film’s ultimate meaning and success resides in the audiences’ responses, rather than the director’s intention or any of its narrative devices.

Chaw is primarily interested in how films reflect the fears and tensions in society.

“So much of society is about dehumanizing people, whether it’s women, racial or sexual minorities,” he said. “Good films encourage self-reflection and, to me, the most interesting works humanize situations and, as strange as it may sound, even humanize people. They uncover the stories and voices that we’re taught not to listen to.”

He is also quick to add that “I’m certainly not one to shy away from a film because of it’s subject matter, the more bellicose, the more perverse, even the better.”

Though Chaw is hesitant to draw a common theme connecting each of the four films in this year’s series, he said “broadly speaking, all four films contain quite a bit of mysticism, they’re all magical.” He also adds that “they’re a great fit for the Vail community not only because they’re exceptional films,” but because “Vail is a strangely mystical and beautiful place that naturally exaggerates sublimity, love, family. People are actively curious here and intellectually mature, and these qualities will certainly help people appreciate the films.”

Jason Blyne from Avon, is a past series attendee and Chaw fan.

“I am particularly looking forward to hearing Walter’s thoughts on ‘Pan’s Labyrinth,’ which is a tough film, and one that I will probably appreciate more with some historical context and Chaw’s original commentary.”

Chaw is excited about the pairing of food and film for this year’s series.

“I think it’s genius. Wasn’t it Hitchcock who thought sex and violence went better with food? There’s something carnal about both, eating and watching in a dark room under a flickering light just makes the two much better.”

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