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Vail film fest aims for No. 1

Melanie Wong
Vail, CO Colorado
Dominique Taylor/File photo
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VAIL, Colorado – Last year, Vail Film Festival organizers received 1,200 film submissions – and only 60 made the cut.

The small number that was shown to Vail audiences during the festival was not due to the quality of the submissions, but simply that the organizers had limited theaters and money. The constraints are something planners hope will change if plans go forward for the film festival to expand downvalley to Beaver Creek.

The event, which has been held in Vail and sponsored by the town for six years, has simply outgrown Vail and its facilities, and organizers are currently in talks with Beaver Creek about a plan to show half of the films at the resort.

If Vail and Beaver Creek partnered on the event, next year’s festival could feature 90 films, more film stars, producers and directors in attendance, and simply a bigger event, complete with more panel discussions and social events, said Tony O’Rourke, executive director of Beaver Creek Resort Company.

“In principal its a win-win proposition – it gives people more choices of what films to see and a different experience,” he said. “The film festival is busting at the seams. It would work much like the dance festival, where dances are also held at the Vilar Center, or the ski championships, which are split between Beaver Creek and Vail.”

Organizers have said they are looking downvalley for other partners because they want the film festival to become the top festival in the country, and staying only within Vail is limiting.

“We are always looking for ways to grow the festival and become a bigger and better event,” said festival founder Scott Cross. “From the beginning, it has been our goal to become one of the most prestigious film festivals in the world.”

Last year, event organizers even had to turn down directors, producers and film stars who wanted to attend the festival because there wasn’t enough space and money to bring them in, said Kaye Ferry, a member of the festival’s board of directors.

“We have an obligation to this festival to make it bigger than it is,” she said. “Right now we’re listed in the top 10 among film festivals in the country, but we’ll never be No. 1 till we can increase our venues or the dollars spent.”

Organizers, Beaver Creek and the town of Vail are still discussing what kind of partnership can be worked out, but O’Rourke emphasized that Beaver Creek is not interested in taking over the event.

“We won’t be a part of this unless Vail is in partnership, we won’t fund the event by ourselves,” he said.

Some in Vail have expressed dismay that the some of the event might be “leaving” Vail, but Cross said that the event will continue to be based in Vail.

“We sincerely appreciate all of the support we’ve had from the town of Vail, Vail businesses, and Vail residents over the years, and that support has been integral to the success of the event,” he said. “We feel that having the event in both Vail and Beaver Creek will be better for the film festival, for visiting filmmakers, for our sponsors, and for the Vail Valley.”

Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2928 or mwong@vaildaily.com.


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