Film and TV

Twelve Can't-Miss Events at the Twelfth Boulder International Film Festival

The Boulder International Film Festival will unreel its twelfth iteration March 3 through March 6, with two new venues in outlying towns and more screenings of festival favorites. “Some of these films are so popular, we just couldn’t get in everyone who wanted to see them,” says BIFF Executive Director Robin Beeck. “So some of these will show two or three times this year.”

The popular shows include the festival’s trademark shorts programs, which have grown to three separate slates this year, as well as such selections as Tamara Christopherson’s Personal Gold: An Underdog Story, about the U.S. women’s cycling team in 2012; and Maya Angelou and Still I Rise, by Bob Hercules and Rita Coburn Whack. All three directors will be present for talkbacks at their screenings. In, nearly thirty filmmakers are coming to town to interact with interviewers and audiences.

Asked to reel off a dozen can’t-miss events at this year’s festival, Beeck offers these:
1. Opening night and Miss Sharon Jones!.
“It’s an intense story,” says Beeck of the documentary about the great Chicago R & B singer and her recent struggle with cancer, directed by double Oscar-winner Barbara Kopple. Two gala parties launch the evening, complete with costumed characters (“We have three David Bowies,” says Beeck) and a New Orleans-style second-line parade to the festival’s primary venue, the Boulder Theatre.

2. Bruce Dern.
The Oscar-nominated actor (Coming Home, Nebraska) will receive a special tribute on Friday, March 4; festivities include a retrospective and onstage interview. The 79-year-old has worked with everyone from Elia Kazan to Quentin Tarentino during his six-decade career. Typecast for years as an eccentric character actor, Dern showed his range with roles in such films as The King of Marvin Gardens, Family Plot, Smile, The Driver, After Dark, My Sweet and Monster.

3. Closing night and Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You.
The documentary opened at Sundance and is slated for theatrical release in June and an airing later this year on the PBS American Masters TV series. The biopic of Norman Lear, the 93-year-old pioneering TV comedy producer (All in the Family, Maude, Good Times, Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman) and liberal activist, will screen after the traditional closing-night awards ceremony on Sunday, March 6. Lear couldn’t come, says Beeck, “not because he’s too old – because he’s too busy!”

4. The Last Man on the Moon.
When this film plays on Sunday, March 6,  astronaut Eugene Cernan (a veteran of Apollo 10 and 17) will be on hand. Cernan’s story is told by director Mark Craig, who will be there as well.

5. Global Town Hall
The live-streamed conference in Boulder's e-Town Hall will consider women in the technology industry — or rather, the dearth of women in the industry and the problems the pioneers face. It’s preceded by the documentary Code: Debugging the Gender Gap, and will be emceed by Code director Robin Hauser Reynolds. She will be joined by a panel that includes Boulder High School grad and Pixar Director of Photography for Lighting Danielle Feinberg.

6. The Little Prince
In what is becoming a tradition at BIFF, a Saturday afternoon 3D children’s feature is scheduled on March 5. This year, it’s Mark Osborne’s The Little Prince, an animated adaptation of Antoine de Saint Exupery’s classic 1943 book.

7. A Good American
Bill Binney is a master codebreaker who predicted the Tet offensive — and it turns out he predicted 9/11 as well. In A Good American, director Friedrich Moser tells his story; Binney will attend the screening.

8. Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World. 
Werner Herzog’s new documentary about the terrifying  dangers of the digital culture premiered at Sundance, and Herzog will be in Boulder to screen the film.

9. Left on Purpose.
An examination of the radical life and deliberate death of activist Mayer Vishner, Left on Purpose will be followed by a discussion about suicide with its director, Justin Schein.

10. Cinechef
A one-night competition that features film-themed foods created by eight local chefs, which patrons then sample and vote on. As the years go by, the preparations are becoming more elaborate, involving costumes, projections and more.

11. The B.A.D. (BIFF After Dark) Party.
The legendary Saturday-night hoedown of previous years has moved to the Boulder Theatre and is now open to the public. It features the soul cover band The Burroughs.

12. BIFF’s singer/Songwriter Showcase.
This showcase is still going strong in the BIFF Filmmaker Lounge at the Lazy Dog at 1346 Pearl Street, on Friday, March 4, and Saturday, March 5. "You never know what up-and-comers you might hear there," says Beeck. "For instance – you know who played last year? Some guy no one had ever heard of named Nathaniel Rateliff."

The Boulder International Film Festival runs from Thursday, March 3, through Sunday, March 6, with programs around Boulder and also at the new Stewart Auditorium at the Longmont Museum and the Broomfield Auditorium at 3 Community Park Road. For tickets and information, visit

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Brad Weismann became an award-winning writer and editor after spending years as a comedian. He's written about everything from grand opera to movies for a diverse array of magazines, newspapers and websites worldwide.