Best Bet: Boulder International Film Festival

January 2014

Two years ago, I attended the Boulder International Film Festival (BIFF) and had the rare opportunity to watch William H. Macy (currently starring in Shamelessplay the ukulele—decently I might add. But as you'll read in the February issue, BIFF wasn't always the star-studded affair it is today. In the 10 years since siblings Kathy and Robin Beeck launched the event, it has transformed into a destination festival, with award-winning films, panels, workshops, and parties. 

Fifty-six movies are slated to run from February 13–16, so choosing which ones to catch won't be easy. Here are some highlights:

Fading GigoloIf the cast doesn't draw you in (John Turturro, Woody Allen, Sharon Stone, and Sofia Vergara), the storyline of a florist in his mid-50s becoming a male escort, falling for a client, and landing in Hasidic Court should. Attend just the opening night flick or make a night of it with the pre-parties. Thu 8 p.m.

Ernest and CelestineNominated for a 2014 Academy Award for best animated feature, this lighthearted romp—the hand-drawn film looks like a moving watercolor painting—follows the unlikely friendship between a bear and a mouse. Fri 10 a.m.

The Genius of Marian—Alzheimer's disease brings changes both expected and surprising to one family in this documentary that follows Pam White for three years following her diagnosis. Fri 2:30 p.m.

Foovie Fundraiser—Spend Valentine's Day indulging in French hors d'oeuvres, viewing Le Chef (a comedic dalliance into the predicament a fictional chef finds himself in), and then ending the day of love with dessert and bubbly. Fri 5:30-9:30 p.m., eTown Hall

No No: A Dockumentary—Straight from Sundance comes the first feature-length look at the personal life of MLB pitcher Dock Ellis, "the only major league pitcher to throw a perfect game while tripping on LSD (that we know of)." The director and producer will be on hand. Fri 9:30 p.m., Boulder Theater; Sat 2:30 p.m., eTown Hall

OmarLove and war compete for the attention of Omar, a freedom fighter in occupied Palestine. What happens when he is captured and allegiances are severed? Sat 12:15 p.m., Boulder High School

DocumentedAn exploration of what it's like to live as an undocumented immigrant from the perspective of the immigrant. Director and journalist Jose Antonio Vargas (who will be in attendance at the screening) adds his personal experience to the often-divisive conversation. Sun noon, Boulder High School, and 5 p.m., eTown Hall

The Missing Picture—Director Rithy Pan was 11 years old when he, his family, and two million fellow Cambodians were rounded up and forced into labor camps following the Vietnam War. After debating how to show these atrocities on film for years, Pan settled on depicting the events—no photos exist—through clay figurines and dioramas alongside real propaganda footage. The documentary is nominated for a foreign language film Oscar. Sat 2:30 p.m., First United Methodist Church

The Current—Missy Franklin lands on the big screen in this documentary surrounding Kurt Miller's efforts to offer adaptive water sports to athletes dealing with disabilities. The director and a number of people featured in the film, including Franklin, will make a special appearance. Sun 3 p.m., Boulder High School

All screenings will be at the Boulder Theater unless otherwise noted. Individual film tickets are $12; prices vary for the opening night gala and other events.  

Follow associate editor Daliah Singer on Twitter at @daliahsinger