Top five picks for the 10th Boulder International Film Festival from Kathy Beeck

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It can be overwhelming to navigate the wide variety of films and panels that run February 13 through 16 at the tenth annual Boulder International Film Festival. Luckily you can't go wrong, says director and co-founder Kathy Beeck. The common thread is good storytelling. From the free Youth Pavilion to the Call to Action Program committed to social justice, the festival is packed with tons of interesting programming, including action-inspiring documentaries, comedies and panel discussions.

"We always say that film has the power to change the world," says Beeck. "You can get inspired to act, you can get inspired to volunteer, you can learn something, you can be entertained. This is really the best program we've ever had." In advance of the festival, we had Beeck choose five of her favorite films. Here they are:

See also: Philip Seymour Hoffman, heroin and the secret club of addiction

Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me

Friday, 4:30 p.m.,

Boulder Theater

"Elaine Stritch was on Broadway for many years and now she plays Alec Baldwin's mother on

30 Rock

, which she just won an Emmy for last year," Beeck says. "This film is actually executive-produced by Alec Baldwin. She's 87 years old and she's still performing -- it's just amazing. It goes through some days in her life, and she is quite a firecracker. It's playing on Valentine's Day and I think it's a nice little Valentine's film; it's just delightful to see this wonderful woman doing what she does."

No No: A Dockumentary 

Friday, 9:30 p.m.,

Boulder Theater

Saturday, 2:30 p.m.,

eTown Hall

"This film comes to us directly from Sundance, and it's about a major league pitcher in the '70s who was the only major league pitcher ever to pitch a no-hitter on LSD. His name is Dock Ellis, and he was quite a flamboyant guy. It tells the whole story of his life including when he became an addict, not just the game he pitched on LSD. It's just a well-done film. It's got a lot of amazing animation that's drawn in, so it's a lot different than many documentaries. Jeffrey Radice is the director and he's had some short films at BIFF in the past, so we're so happy to bring him back with the first feature we've screened of his." 


Saturday, 12:15 p.m.,

Boulder High School Auditorium

"It's a Palestinian narrative nominated for an Oscar this year, and it's a great film. It's a love story about a Palestinian man and the love of his life and how he has to sneak around with her. The police get involved and there's a lot of cat and mouse sort of suspicion and betrayal; it's a great story and it's all so well acted. It's one of my favorites."

The Wind Rises

Sunday, 12 p.m.,

Boulder Theater


The Wind Rises

is a great animation film that we have this year. This is a film by a guy named Hayao Miyazaki and he's a Japanese animation director and Oscar winner; he's just a fabulous animator and pretty well-known in the animation world. This is his swan song, so to speak. He may not be making any films after this and this film will be opening in theaters in late February so we're really lucky to have it at the festival before it opens. It's a tribute film to a guy who was a very accomplished and innovative airplane designer named Jiro Horikoshi. Miyazaki just does the most outstanding and beautiful animation that you'll ever see anywhere. It's certainly something that would be good for the whole family."

Tim's Vermeer

Sunday, 7:30 p.m.,

Boulder Theater

"This is our closing night film that's really doing well on the festival circuit right now. It's nominated for a British Academy Award, a BAFTA. We have a lot of art and music films this year, so we like that as a bit of a theme, and this fits right in that category. It's a film about a man in Texas who's an inventor of editing softwares that made him a millionaire. He was very interested in art and was looking into the Dutch painter Vermeer and wondering how he was able to paint so realistically. His paintings almost look like a photo, but there was no photography when he was painting. So this guy looks at engineering and how Vermeer might have actually accomplished his painting with some engineering feats using materials that were available at the time. It's just a fascinating documentary and really delightful. Penn and Teller are the director and producer and we're hoping they do well at the BAFTA awards next month. We're having the closing night film along with a birthday party at the Boulder Theater."

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