Vail takes cinematic strides |

Vail takes cinematic strides

Andrew Harley
Special to the Daily Richard Linklater's "Before Sunset" is one of the Vail Film Festival's featured films, starring Ethan Hawke, right, and Julie Delpy, left.

One never can tell when it comes to inaugural events, though Vail Film Festival has made a convincing bid for success with its first film lineup.

The list of features, shorts, documentaries and student films includes work by Richard Linklater, Johnny Depp, Sean Penn, Isabella Rossellini, Ethan Hawke, Eric Stolz, Julie Delpy, Benicio Del Toro and Robert Young.

“Everybody in the industry has been very supportive of what we’re trying to do,” said Vail Film Festival Co-director Denis Jensen. “One of our goals is to give exposure to a lot of different and innovative films, and not necessarily perpetuate big Hollywood films and blockbusters.”

Among the industry’s supporters for the Vail Film Festival are moguls like Kevin Spacey and Martin Scorsese.

The movies, etc.

The festival, which has been a year and a half in the making, was founded by Jensen, Scott Cross and Sean Cross, who sought out a diverse mix of independent filmmakers and emerged with that along with some documentaries, an “Extreme Sports Showcase,” a “Gershwin Showcase” and a television pilots category.

The “Gershwin Showcase” is the result of indie filmmakers receiving the rights to Gershwin songs for the first time.

One of the featured films is the North American premiere of Linklater’s “Before Sunset,” which stars Hawke and Delpy and is the sequel to the early 1990s Linklater film “Before Sunrise” – a 24-hour snapshot of a day and night a young American and French girl spend in Vienna. At the end of “Before Sunrise,” the pair promise to meet five years later, and “Before Sunset” follows up on their relationship.

“Linklater represents the independent spirit we’re looking to have,” said Jensen.

“Asylum” is an Academy-Award nominated short film that plays on opening night.

“When Zachary Beaver Came to Town” stars Stolz, Jonathan Lipnicki and Jane Krakowski, and represents the festival’s featured family film.

“This so-called Disaster” features a stellar cast, including Penn, Nick Nolte, Sam Shepard and Woody Harrelson, and delves into the avant-garde and noir.

“Breakfast with Hunter” is a documentary on Aspen’s favorite codger/journalist Hunter S. Thompson, with appearances by Depp, Del Toro and John Cusack.

Guy Madden’s “The Saddest Music in the World” stars Rossellini, and the festival will also hold panel discussions with insiders like actor/director Chad Lowe, producer Gil Holland and film critic Godfrey Cheshire.

“Realistically, we’re not trying to reinvent the wheel, but we definitely have our own flavor,” said Jensen. “We’re open to go big like Sundance, but we’re looking to keep the flavor of a small quality festival.”

Film industry tributes

Producer Amy Robinson and director Young will receive honors at the Vail Film Festival for their lifetime achievements.

Young, who’s had history in Colo., is considered a pioneer of American independent cinema. Young spent World War II in the Pacific as a combat photographer, he made his first 16 millimeter film at Harvard, he’s done documentaries in New York, lived in igloos with Eskimos for a film, filmed during a civil war in Angola, studied the activities of sharks and released his first dramatic film, “Alambrista!,” in 1978, which became the first film to win the Cannes Film Festival’s Camera d’Or award.

Young’s film “Human Error” plays on opening night and is fresh off the screens of the Sundance Film Festival.

Robinson first garnered silver-screen recognition through her acting in Scorsese’s “Mean Streets.” After that, Robinson turned to producing, putting her stamp on such films as Scorsese’s “After Hours,” Sidney Lumet’s “Running on Empty,” Lasse Hallstrom’s “Once Around,” “With Honors,” “For Love of the Game,” “Autumn in New York” and her latest work is titled “Marie and Bruce” – which stars Julianne Moore and Matthew Broderick.

Robinson also produced “When Zachary Beaver came to Town.”


The films are not the whole festival. The SESAC Music Showcase features Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriters Pam Rose, Richard Leigh, Don, Henry and Jon Nicholson on April 1-3 at the Red Lion from 2-5 p.m.

“People can only see so many films in a day,” said Jensen. “This is something for between films; it’s for people to just hang out. It makes for a more well-rounded festival atmosphere.”

The Vail Film Festival starts on April 1st and ends April 4th, and also includes VIP parties, a festival concert, awards and a closing day brunch.

“And to be in Vail, to be honest, kind of sells itself,” said Jensen.


Independent Images

What: Vail Film Festival

When: April 1-4


Andrew Harley can be reached at (970) 949-0555, ext.610, or at

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