Vail Film Festival offers alternative |

Vail Film Festival offers alternative

Charlie Owen
Vail CO, Colorado
Charlie Owen is a blogger for the Vail Daily

It’s nice to be reminded occasionally that a world exists outside of Hollywood and the Vail Film Festival was just the kind of rude awakening that I needed.

Week after week I give my hard earned money over to the kid at the ticket booth, just knowing that most of it is going to stuff some rich Hollywood exec’s pockets. But even worse than that, I just became a statistic. They can now include me in the numbers used to show other Hollywood exec how many people went to see a certain movie and why a sequel or equally bad film can now be justified.


Sometimes I forget that the real reason to go see a movie is to be entertained. Along the way it is nice to be challenged with thought provoking material, or stimulated by great dialog and cinematography, but that is not always the case. Most Hollywood movies are a product, and as such they are designed to make as much money as possible, to hell with the art.

But there exists a world, albeit a small one that gets little attention, where art and love of the game are all that matters.

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The movies that are exhibited in the film festivals are usually low-budget works, but they are full of character development, great acting, interesting plots, and lofty ideas. They usually lack the explosions, formulaic concepts, gratuitous violence and nudity, and star-power that big-budget, Hollywood backed flicks contain.

The mass market demands a product that will sell. Hollywood delivers just that. At any given moment Hollywood is in the process of creating some movie that will sell to a large enough demographic to make it worth there while. Never mind that it’s the same movie they released last month with different actors and a slightly different plot.

For three straight days I was immersed in a world where killer sheep take over a farm, a writer becomes famous after killing his girlfriend, a Halloween party turns into a blood-bath, prostitutes and priests can find common ground, and kids stalk adults for fun.

There were also documentaries on topics ranging anywhere from a cowboy car-salesman to a crusading Hunter S. Thompson, and everything in between. I can’t even begin to go into detail about all of the short films that were shown, but I will say that they were full of more integrity and character than most Hollywood blockbusters can ever hope to achieve.

Most of these films will never find a mass audience because they are not designed for mass appeal, they are a labor of love that the filmmaker brought to fruition without some suit telling him to change the ending or to ad more snappy dialog.

Of course, the down side of the film festival is that as each of these filmmakers and actors gets “discovered” by some big-time Hollywood agent, they soon become part of the machine. I guess that’s capitalism for you.

Hollywood is not going anywhere, nor would I want it to. Love it or hate it, it controls most of the movie making that makes it to the local cine-plex, and I don’t want to imagine a life without good and bad movies to choose from.

It’s just nice to see that in a world where the bottom line is the difference between a good movie being made and a bad movie making money, there are still small-time filmmakers out there willing to sacrifice their time and money to make us a part of their world, even if it’s just for a few hours.

Long live the Vail Film Festival!

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