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L.A. filmmakers take festival to Leadville

Christine Ina CasillasVail CO, Colorado
Special to the Daily The Independence Film Festival will be the countriest highest.
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LEADVILLE – Lawrence David Foldes began his career as an action film director – “I love to blow things up” – and what was then called “exploitation” movies, or B-movies. But Foldes, who is organizing the Independence Film Festival of Colorado in Leadville along with wife, Victoria Paige Meyerink, isn’t fond of the term “exploitation,” he said. Independent filmmakers from the 1960s to the early 1980s focused on films with a particular meaning or target audience – and many with a public service announcement. Beach movies, action thrillers and sci-fi and horror flicks turned into cult classics. Then, Hollywood began to monopolize the industry. Independent filmmakers couldn’t compete with the power and money that changed Hollywood filmmaking. The swashbucklers from old independent filmmakers were replaced by Hollywood’s ability to pay for the high-tech action thrillers, forcing the low-brow, low-budget filmmakers to go back to their roots, revamp and produce films from the heart.The award-winning films within that 20-year mark included “Lawrence of Arabia,” “The Godfather” and “The Wild Ones,” movies that distributors said, “Here’s so much money, go make a movie,” Foldes said. “It didn’t matter then who starred in what movie just as long as it fit a 90-minute frame and there was enough for a trailer.”Distribution and marketing soon became the rulers of Hollywood, casting actors in roles because of their status and their name – “They didn’t want Marlon Brando to play the Godfather” – and filmmaking turned into a money-making tool instead of an artistic form of expression, with visions created through the eyes of the directors.”What I’m talking about is the art and craft of filmmaking, where you take the viewer in that chair and take them on a journey,” Foldes said, “and they can experience those feelings that a filmmaker has about a particular film and quite possibly change the viewer’s perspective about a topic.”The independent filmmakers found themselves on the back burners before the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science members – until recently.”You’re seeing more and more independent filmmakers winning awards because their movies have something to say,” Foldes said. “Filmmakers have gone back to the traditional form of filmmaking that’s entertaining but also has something to say.”Independent film festivals sparked because of the “bastardization” of Hollywood films, allowing films to be shown to an audience that wouldn’t be exposed to the films otherwise. The festivals also gave the filmmakers a chance to show their work in front of an audience.Foldes and Meyerink had been involved in independent film festivals for many years, and they started participating in festivals all over the world.”It’s not just the film that gets invited to the festivals,” Foldes said. “As a filmmaker, it’s important to see how their particular vision, their story translates in other cultures and how those other cultures respond to your form of art.”

Foldes and Meyerink, who were former board members of the Breckenridge Film Festival, have initiated a brand new independent film festival in September in the towns of Leadville, Twin Lakes and Buena Vista, deemed the highest film festival in the world. According to Meyerink, the town of Leadville – and its character – were an integral part to putting together the event.”We can get anything we want in L.A.,” she said. “We can’t get this unique way of life and this great mining town. There’s a lot of culture up here.”Foldes and Meyerink had first taken their film fest idea to the towns of Summit County in late 2006, and proposed a Copper Mountain/Leadville event to the town of Frisco. But when Copper dropped out, so did Frisco’s support; and a second film festival in the county proved too many. Yet pivotal Leadville remained interested and the towns of Buena Vista and Twin Lakes were added to complete the project.The Independence Film Fest of Colorado will debut Sept. 6-9 at venues including in Leadville the National Mining museum (which has its own ballroom) and the Tabor Opera House and in Buena Vista The Pearl Theater and Comanche Drive-In Theatre, among other spaces yet to be determined.

During the four-day event, honors will be bestowed on director John Landis and film critic Rex Reed and special tributes will be given to the late comic genius Don Knotts and Elvis Presley (on the 30th anniversary of his passing). Several educational programs will be conducted along with a Make-A-Wish Foundation sponsorship.Other ideas that are still in the working phase include a magic lantern demonstration one day of the festival.”The magic lantern was the predecessor to the film projector,” Meyerink said. She said the artform features layered glass slides lit from behind with people on either side moving the slides. She and Foldes are also hoping to be able to bring a 35 mm film projector to the Tabor Opera House, and keep it there permanently. Also on the agenda: Foldes and Meyerink will show a location scout around the area to promote interest in filming in Leadville and its surrounding communities.



Foldes produced his first theatrical feature, “Malibu High,” at the age of 18, making him the youngest professional filmmaker in history. “Malibu High” was completed on an incredibly low budget and became a box office hit that has grossed several million dollars worldwide.Foldes’ next feature “Don’t Go Near the Park,” which he directed and produced, won honors from the Paris International Film Festival and the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films.His latest film, “Finding Home,” was filmed in New England and is described as a tender character drama addressing important social issues.”I love making movies,” Foldes said. “Making movies is my whole life. As far back as I can remember, it’s the one thing, the only thing, I ever wanted to do … and through the grace of God and the generosity and patience of my parents, I was given the opportunity to fulfill my dreams.”=====================At the moviesWhat: Independence Film Festival of ColoradoWhen: Sept. 6-9Where: Leadville, Buena Vista, Twin Lakes, screenings at various locations=================

=========================================Breckenridge Film Festival readies for summer datesSchool’s out during the 2007 Breckenridge Film Festival with its new dates in June, and according to executive director Dawna Foxx, the festival is taking full advantage. All the premieres (Hollywood films, like “Babel,” which was premiered at last year’s event) will take place at the high school. With hopes for 11 Hollywood premieres, Foxx said they are arranging a deal with the bus system or other transportation to form a loop from Farmer’s Korner to Breck during the weekend of the festival, June 7-10.Independent films are currently being reviewed by locals to fill the four-day schedule which also includes workshops and seminars.Foxx said the date change from September was an idea the board had been kicking around for some time. Competition with other independent Colorado festivals in September including Telluride and Aspen, and also the Toronto International Film Festival were the main reason for the move.Resort Quest in downtown Breck will be the base of operations for its second year. Due to its success last year, filmmakers’ rooms will be free instead of discounted, which means more filmmakers at the event.Go to http://www.breckfilmfest.com, or watch for continuing coverage in the Summit Daily News for more information as the festival approaches.- Leslie Brefeld, Summit Correspondent============================================================


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