Explore the rich flavors of the silver screen at Vail Film Festival | VailDaily.com

Explore the rich flavors of the silver screen at Vail Film Festival

Katie Coakley
Special to the Daily
Adele Romanski produced the opening night film for the Vail Film Festival, “Morris from America,” which screens at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 7, at the Vail Cascade. Romanski won the Sundance Institute Producer’s Award for her work on the film, which chronicles the life of a 13-year-old American boy living in Germany.
Vail Film Festival | Special to the Daily |

Vail Film Festival schedule

Thursday, April 7

7:30 p.m. — “Morris from America,” Opening Night Film, Vail Cascade

9:30 p.m. — Opening Night Party, Lodge at Vail

Friday, April 8

11 a.m. to 11 p.m. — Film screenings, Vail Cascade and CineBistro

Noon to 5 p.m. — Virtual reality tent, Slifer Square

7 p.m. — Friday Night Concert, Shakedown Bar

Saturday, April 9

11 a.m. to 11 p.m. — Film screenings, Vail Cascade and CineBistro

Noon to 5 p.m. — Virtual reality tent, Slifer Square

Noon to 6 p.m. — Festival hospitality lounge, Vail Cascade

7 p.m. — Awards ceremony, Vail Cascade

7:30 p.m. — “A Light Beneath Their Feet,” Closing Night Film, Vail Cascade

9:30 p.m. — Closing Night Party, Lodge at Vail

Sunday, April 10

11 a.m. to 11 p.m. — Film screenings, Vail Cascade and CineBistro

Noon to 4 p.m. — Virtual reality tent, Slifer Square

Noon to 4 p.m. — Festival hospitality lounge, Vail Cascade

For a detailed schedule of films screenings, more information about the festival and to purchase passes, visit http://www.vailfilmfestival.com.

By the numbers

• 67 — films

• 11 — world premieres

• 2 — U.S. premieres

• 28 — Colorado premieres

• 36-plus — hours total of screenings and programming

• 345 — minutes in longest film, “Virgin America Presents: Blah Airlines Flight 101”

• 4 — minutes in shortest film, “Otherwise Engaged”

• 38 — combined minutes of virtual reality films

• 5 — performers at Shakedown Bar for the Friday, April 8, concert

• $10 — individual screening ticket price

• $59, $159, $259 — Price for Vista, Avanti and Prima passes, respectively

VAIL — A buffet can be a curious beast in that the attraction may also be its downfall: so many choices, not enough belly room. The Vail Film Festival, which returns for its 13th year today through Sunday, shares some similarities with an exemplary buffet: so many choices, only two eyeballs with which to enjoy. However, the benefits of indulging will far outweigh the sense of missing out.

It’s impossible to see everything that this film festival has to offer — there are three full days of screenings and programming, plus the opening night show, the concert at Shakedown on Friday and various parties. However, if one approaches this event like a buffet, picking and choosing carefully, perhaps sampling something new and unique, it’s possible to end the weekend fully satiated, if not a bit gluttonous.

This smorgasbord will take participants around the world, from Heidelberg, Germany, to Hong Kong; Chicago to Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and some of the dishes are tied to our own state and valley. While the experiences can last from 20 minutes to almost six hours (in one very special case), each is an opportunity to sample, explore and enjoy the rich flavors of film.

Opening night

Film may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you say “Colorado,” but the industry is making strides in the state. There are many Colorado connections at this year’s festival, from writers, directors and actors in the Colorado Shorts Showcase to producers and directors of some of the full-length features and documentaries. Michael Howard, the director of the feature film “Where We’re Meant To Be,” is originally from Colorado, as is the associate producer of that film.

But there are not only state ties. For Avon resident Marty Romanski, there are family ties, too.

His daughter, Adele Romanski, produced the opening night film for the festival, “Morris from America.” The film, which chronicles the life of a 13-year-old American boy living in Germany, has already received praise; Romanski won the Sundance Institute Producer’s Award for her work on the film, which was bought by distributor A24 after its showing at the Sundance Film Festival.

Romanski, who works primarily on independent films, said she’s glad that her family will have a chance to see “Morris” on the big screen.

“As an independent producer, the films I am involved in are often not available for my family members to watch until many months after their initial premieres,” Romanski said. “And even then, not always available to watch in a theater. So it’s a special thing for my parents to have an opportunity to see the film so soon after Sundance. Unfortunately, my father is going to be in New Zealand during the festival.”

While Marti Romanski will have to wait to see “Morris,” the Vail audience will have a chance to catch the film today at the Vail Cascade.

“Morris is a hip-hop loving kid, so naturally music plays a big role in the film,” Romanski said. “We have a great soundtrack, and the audio work on the film is exceptional. Watching the film in a theater, seeing the picture on the big screen, is a great experience, but also to hear the film in a theater, played loud, like it’s meant to be, makes for an awesome experience.”

Taste of Colorado

Though the Vail Film Festival has included Colorado filmmakers and their work in the past, this is the first year Colorado short films will be featured.

“Film is strong in Colorado, and we feel lucky that we get to showcase it,” said associate festival director Megen Musegades. “We’ve always had at least a few Colorado films but thought it would be great to have a showcase for Colorado shorts.”

The Colorado Shorts Showcase includes four short films from Colorado. Some are filmed in Colorado, and many of the actors, directors and producers are also from the state.

“We wanted to focus on short films because more filmmakers are making short films than feature length, like documentaries or narratives,” said Sean Cross, festival director. “We knew we would get more submissions and be able to have a great number of films to choose from.”

Though shorts require a smaller budget and take less time to create than feature-length films, the audience is not shorted with the experience.

“My favorite thing about going to the shorts blocks is that you get a variety of films in one hour-and-a-half or 80-minute time period,” Musegades said. “You get to experience so many voices.”

Like a truly expansive buffet, the blocks of short films are created from a variety of genres. This is done purposely, said Amanda Durst, shorts programmer for the festival.

“We put them (the short films) into blocks with the idea that there’s something for everybody in the block,” Durst said. “If there’s a film that you’re like, ‘Eh, it’s not really for me,’ it’s only on for about 12 minutes and then you’re on to the next thing.”

The shorts showcases allow viewers to enjoy just a taste because, like a Las Vegas-style buffet, sometimes you just want a side portion of explosively hot green chili — not a whole bowl.

In the Colorado showcase, audiences will get the flavors of various voices and stories, including the film “Sirens,” from Colorado director Joey Spillane. “Sirens,” which follows a mother attempting to find the money for her daughter’s surgery, is Spillane’s third film, but he said it’s more like his first.

“We had actual funding, which allowed more budget, more crew, more locations, more actors,” Spillane said. “It was actually surprising that it was really just as difficult, if not more difficult, than a smaller film. You have more at stake.”

An action-packed 23 minutes, “Sirens” will have its Colorado premiere at the Vail Film Festival; Spillane and actress Phyllis Spielman will be part of a Q-and-A following the film, providing background and answering questions regarding the recipe required for the film.

Following a different physical journey, “142 Miles from Monday” travels through terrain that will be familiar to mountain bikers in the audience. Director Alex Witkowicz’s film, which follows three mountain bikers on the 140-mile Kokopelli trail from Loma to Moab, Utah, tells a story that resonates with anyone who wants to soak up the outdoors.

The other two films in the Colorado Shorts Showcase, “Eddie” and “Pull Away,” have different focuses, but all of the shorts have one thing in common: They’re fully realized stories that have been crafted to span an incredibly short amount of time.

More meals to savor

While shorts provide small, yet satiating snacks, there are plenty of full movie meals to enjoy during the festival. There are full-length narrative features that deliver food for thought, such as “Finding Her,” the story of a journalist who must comes to terms with — and make amends for — his actions, and “A Year By the Sea,” which follows one woman’s journey to find herself again after retirement.

There are documentaries to ponder, a showcase of films from Hong Kong that will pique an appetite for the international and even a collection of six virtual reality short films that will be screened in a tent by Slifer Square.

Add in the eye candy of actors, actresses and filmmakers who are attending the festival and the special sauce of the Friday concert at Shakedown Bar and you have a multi-course meal to enjoy. Loosen your proverbial belt and make room for the flavors of the Vail Film Festival.

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