High Altitude Society column: 13th-annual Vail Film Festival brings out film lovers | VailDaily.com

High Altitude Society column: 13th-annual Vail Film Festival brings out film lovers

Vail Film Festival Rising Star Award recipient Madison Davenport played Beth in “A Light Beneath Their Feet,” starring Taryn Manning, of "Orange is the New Black,” and directed by Valerie Weiss.
Betty Ann Woodland | Special to the Daily |

The Vail Film Festival rolled into town on Thursday, April 7, and stayed, played and entertained audiences until Sunday, April 10. Along the way, film lovers were treated to feature films, documentaries, shorts and student films. Highlights of the festival included Q-and-A events, during which audience members could ask the filmmakers, cast and crew about their experiences in creating their films.

Vail Film Festival veteran Valerie Weiss was back to premiere her film “A Light Beneath Their Feet” and presented an award to actress Madison Davenport.

“It is an honor to present the Rising Star Award to Madison Davenport this evening at the Vail Film Festival,” Weiss said. “If you talk to Madison about acting, she will tell you it is her job, her passion and her reason for being. It lights her up from the inside. Madison has an uncanny ability to completely transform into a character so different from herself and yet bring so much authenticity to the performance that you are convinced that she must be playing herself.”

Like many others, Weiss is in awe of Davenport, a 19-year-old, multi-talented actress.

“I have never met an actor with such a vivid inner life,” Weiss said. “Madison can re-create a circumstance of fiction in her mind, down to the last facial and emotional detail. I call her my acting savant. I have nothing but tremendous awe, respect and love for the young woman receiving this award tonight. She is a gifted dramatic actress, comedian, singer and musician with a heart of gold and phenomenal acting chops.

“I am thrilled that the Vail Film Festival, which holds a special place in my heart since premiering my first feature film, ‘Losing Control,’ has chosen to recognize the incredible talent of Madison Davenport. I have no doubt that Madison will be a huge star that will continue to rise higher and higher throughout her life and create a body of work that will go down in film history because she loves what she does and acting lights her way. I know that we will be singing her praises for decades to come.”

“I am so glad that I wore waterproof mascara,” Davenport said upon receiving her award. “I am so honored to be getting this award at 19. This is a passion project for me. We put so much blood, sweat and tears and so much time into this. This is a story about love between a mother and a daughter … and it shows how unconditional love can overcome anything.”

Words to describe the film “A Light Beneath Their Feet” include heart-wrenching, authentic and graceful, with strong emotional outreach. Weiss encouraged everyone to spread the word about this important and thought-provoking film.

Vail Film Festival host Bill LeVasseur presented actress Karen Allen with the Vail Film Festival Vanguard Award, listing her credits, which include performances in “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “Starman,” “Scrooged,” “Malcolm X” and “The Perfect Storm.” When her microphone was not working, Allen projected her voice.

“Well, I am an actor, I don’t need a microphone,” she said. “Thank you so much … I am so proud to be here with the film ‘Year by the Sea.’ It is Joan Anderson’s transformation in her life, and I get to play her. It is a privilege to have the opportunity to step in to other people’s shoes and portray their lives and their emotions and circumstances.”

Vail Film Festival co-directors Scott and Sean Cross were thrilled with the program and reviews and thanked their sponsors, including town of Vail, Audi, Virgin America, Lodge at Vail, CineBistro and the Vail Daily.

Betty Ann Woodland is a longtime local who covers social events including fundraisers for nonprofits, local happenings and soirees of all kinds. She can be reached at bettyannw6@gmail.com.

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