Art News

Stanley Hotel Cancels 2017 Horror Film Fest; Film Center Director Resigns

The Stanley Film Festival, which attracted horror fans and industry professionals to the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, is canceled for 2017 – and perhaps permanently.

After a three-year run, from 2013 to 2015, the “Sundance of horror films” was put on hiatus in 2016 after the iconic hotel, which inspired Stephen King's The Shining, parted ways with the festival's producers and instead elected to host a symposium to discuss a $24 million film center that it plans to construct.

Westword ran a cover story about the hotel and its ambitious owner, John Cullen, in late October — shortly before the decision was made to cancel the film festival.

And on October 31, a new horror festival was announced that will take place in Mt. Hood, Oregon, on the same dates that the Stanley Film Festival had claimed for 2017: April 27 through April 30.

As a major middle finger to the Stanley, the Overlook Film Festival will use the same programming directors that the Stanley employed from 2013 to 2015, Michael Lerman and Landon Zakheim, and will be hosted at the Timberline Lodge, which provided the exterior shots for Stanley Kubrick's 1980 film adaptation of The Shining.

In the wake of the Overlook Film Festival announcement, Westword received a tip that the Stanley's festival would be canceled and that Frederic Lahey, who'd joined the Stanley team from the Colorado Film School to head its proposed film center, had resigned.

Lahey confirms that he is leaving the Stanley. "I have decided to move on,” he says. “I am currently taking some time off while looking at opportunities on both coasts and in Colorado, most likely in higher education."

Why is Lahey leaving? “I'm not good at waiting around,” he explains. "Basically, the film projects have been put behind other hotel priorities.”

One reason for the delay is that the Stanley's management has yet to receive tax revenue that was awarded by the state of Colorado as part of the Regional Tourism Act – a program that has been plagued with problems.

The film center that Lahey was supposed to head is unlikely to be constructed until that state money starts trickling in – which some observers think won't happen until late 2017.

Lahey also confirms that the Stanley Film Festival has gotten axed.

Asked whether the decision to pull the plug was related to the Overlook Film Festival, Lahey says only this: “That festival was actually announced after we made a decision not to go forward."
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Chris Walker is a freelancer and former staff writer at Westword. Before moving to the Mile High City he spent two years bicycling across Eurasia, during which he wrote feature stories for VICE, NPR, Forbes, and The Atlantic. Read more of Chris's feature work and view his portfolio here.
Contact: Chris Walker