Vail Film Festival: Take 3
VAIL – Sean and Scott Cross sit on metal fold-out chairs among boxes stacked to the ceiling. A few scattered card tables hold computers, printers, phones, walkie talkies. A dozen VHS tapes and a TV occupy a solitary book shelf. The morning sun has warmed up the somewhat sterile room that serves as headquarters for their baby – the Vail Film Festival – which, now in its third year, has become more of a toddler taking its first steps. Megen Musegades, associate festival director, opens the sliding glass doors to the balcony letting a cool, dry breeze into the Vail Crossroads condominium. Christopher Boldon, director of operations – a new position full of responsiblities the Cross’ are handing over this year – opens his laptop. Everyone, looking a bit sleepy-eyed, nurses cups of caffeine.It’s Saturday. The festival is five days away, and every minute counts. Musegades runs down a list of attendees who need hosts: local volunteers who know the area well and can show an actor or director around during the festival. Undoubtedly it’s the most coveted volunteer position. Charlize might be coming, Musegades says, as in Theron. They’ve just confirmed “East of Havana,” a documentary about Cuban hip-hop artists, which Theron produced.Other big names this year are Melissa Joan Hart of “Sabrina the Teenage Witch,” Laura Bickford, producer of “Traffic,” William Forsythe and Jonathan Silverman of “Jam” and John Ventimiglia of “The Sopranos.”
“You have to improvise all the time,” Scott said. “A lot of things come down to the last minute. It will be like that even 10 years from now when we’re a huge festival. You have to wait until the last minute to get the new films, to get the filmmaker to commit, to get the actresses to commit. Because of their schedules, they’re not able to tell you three months out. It’s in flux even now.”The Cross’ have been in town for nearly two months. Whatever one would expect two New Yorkers spearheading a Hollywood soiree in Vail to be like, Sean and Scott, fraternal twins in their late 20s, are soft-spoken, humble, thoughtful, ambitious, funny and at once filmmakers and devotees. They seem to think in tandem, finishing one other’s sentences as they confirm attendees and their festival itineraries. An extra task this year is coordinating the press room as more media such as Entertainment Weekly and the New York Times will be covering the event for the first time.Quickly gaining momentum as an esteemed indie festival, where the focus is independent films, the VVF founders walk a fine line trying to balance the festival’s growth and the intimacy of the event they’ve worked so hard to produce. This year’s festival will screen 75 films from around the world, including 20 feature films, 16 world premieres, up from 10 last year, as well as 55 documentaries, short films, animated films, action sports, student films and television pilots. As more films come their way, the Cross’ remain true to the commitment to bring festival-goers and filmmakers together, to talk about films. “Where else do you get to do that?” Sean asked.Highlights of this year’s festival, the Cross’ say, are plentiful. n Opening the festival this year, “The Oh in Ohio,” starring Danny DeVito, Parker Posey, Paul Rudd, Miranda Bailey (of Vail), and Mischa Barton, follows the journey of Priscilla Chase after her husband unexpectedly leaves her. n “Jam,” tells the story of eight groups of travelers, one big traffic jam and 90 minutes that will change their lives forever, starring William Forsythe who will be receiving the Gold Summit Award for Contribution to film.
n In “The Sasquatch Dumpling Gang,” from the makers of “Napoleon Dynamite,” young, fantasy/sci-fi aficionado Gavin Gore and his friends stumble onto some huge footprints in the woods. A local cop, reporter and a renowned Sasquatch authority investigate, while two of Gavin’s dim-witted neighbors hatch a scheme to profit from the situation. n “Laura Smiles,” starring Petra Wright and Kip Pardue, portrays one woman’s attempt to re-invent her life after a tragedy. But her life spirals out of control through a series of sexual encounters, as she tries to return to a time when love was real. n “The festival’s closing film, “American Dreamz” from Universal Pictures, satirizes American identity, based on the wildly popular television singing contest called “American Dreamz.” It stars Hugh Grant, Dennis Quaid, Mandy Moore, Marcia Gay Harden, Willem Dafoe, Chris Klein and Judy Greer. The festival organizers scroll down the agenda, checking off items for the filmmakers’ packets – access pass, map, lift ticket vouchers – and then scheduling meeting after meeting, intercepted by phone calls and e-mails. The Cross’ are hands-on, maybe too hands-on.Ideally the directors of a film festival, Sean said, would be focusing on recruiting sponsorships and building relationships with filmmakers and the likes. In the meantime, they’re off to the village to put up fliers around town.
About Vail Film FestivalVail Film Festival promotes independent filmmaking, with a special focus on new and innovative filmmakers. Besides screenings, the festival will also feature workshops, seminars and panel discussions with award-winning actors, writers and directors. An awards ceremony, family festivities, VIP parties, and live music will round out the four-day event. The Vail Film Festival is produced by the Vail Film Institute, a non-profit arts organization that is dedicated to fostering independent cinema and creative filmmaking. Festival passes incorporate a combination of movies, filmmaker panels, galas and music, with deep discounts on skiing for festival passholders. For tickets and additional information, visit http://www.vailfilmfestival.org or call (866) 476-1092.Staff Writer Laura A. Ball can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14641, or firstname.lastname@example.org.Vail, Colorado
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