Hot topic docs
The films screening at the Beaver Creek Documentary Film Series might leave one with something to think about even after the lights come up. Luckily, the makers of each movie will be in attendance to answer some of the questions their films sparked. The Vail Symposium routinely shows documentary films throughout the year, but this time they wanted to do a full five-day screening series. “All of these films have a Colorado connection,” said Liana Moore, executive director of the Vail Symposium. “Most of them were produced or directed by Colorado-based directors.”Moore has noticed a growing community of filmmakers who choose to live and work in the state. Film director Daniel Junge travels around the world shooting documentaries but makes Denver his home base. “I really want awareness of the industry,” Junge said. “There are filmmakers in Colorado doing nationally-recognized and high-caliber work.”Making difficult subjects speak to a mass audienceJunge has been directing documentaries for the past decade and will screen two films at the series. Junge’s first feature, “Chiefs,” chronicles the lives of the Wyoming Wind River Indian High School basketball team, both on and off the court. It won the Grand Jury Prize at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2002.Junge also co-directed “Saving Face,” which follows two Pakistani women who have been the victim of acid attacks. The film won the 2012 Oscar for best short-form documentary. Junge strives to tell stories about social justice in a compelling and captivating way. “The films I make are sometimes about difficult, even unpalatable, subjects,” Junge said. “But you have to be aware of your end audience. Making films in a vacuum (that may not) reach and speak to a mainstream audience, you’re not helping anyone … You’re not really doing a service to the issue or the subject.” Junge enjoys attending screenings of his films because it opens up a dialog between audience and filmmaker.”I’m happy to be there,” Junge said. “I’m always game for invigorating conversation after the film.”The ‘power of the picture’Lisa Hartman, producer of “U.S. Heath Care: The Good News,” is excited about discussing her film because the subject matter is so timely. “The Good News” documents the efforts of hospitals and communities across the country that are trying to make health care affective and affordable without government involvement. With the Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Care Act due any day now, Hartman hopes the film will further expand the way we talk about health care.”I believe the story line is changing,” Hartman said. “Many stories, like the one in our movie, are going to motivate people to demand that our communities look at the options and innovations to make health care accessible to everyone; make it the kind of care they need (and) want … and doesn’t break the bank.”Hartman said the “power of the picture” helps make the documentary medium an agent for change in our society. For the producer, making “The Good News” opened up Hartman’s own eyes to new health care solutions.”I was shocked at how many places we’re doing such extraordinary, innovative things,” Hartman said. “Once people see what’s possible, they’ll demand it.” In addition to Junge and Hartman’s films, two other documentaries will be screened as a part of the series this week. “Climate Refugees” looks at the effect of global warming on humans around the world. “One Revolution” tells the story of paralyzed skier Chris Waddell as he attempts to ascend Mt. Kilimanjaro on a handcycle. Both Junge and Hartman agree that the exposure to documentary films has increased exponentially since they started working in the industry. “Documentaries have crossed over the line,” Hartman said. “Years ago, they were considered fringe. Now, documentarians are creating feature films that are being seen by tens of millions of viewers.” Junge thinks the advances in film and video technology have given more people the opportunity to pick up a camera and start shooting. “‘Chiefs’ was really the result of these new tools,” Junge said. “You’re seeing a lot more films and a lot more new filmmakers. (Because of this), you’re seeing more interesting and challenging films. I think it’s an exciting time.”
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