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Siblings Kathy and Robin Beeck have been film lovers since they first saw the Wizard of Oz on TV as young girls. And as kids in Boulder, the two always thought the town, set against the picturesque backdrop of the Flatirons, would make the perfect setting for a film festival. For years they simply assumed one would pop up; when nothing appeared, they decided to start a festival themselves. That was a decade ago. This month, the critically acclaimed Boulder International Film Festival celebrates its 10th year as one of the country’s top gatherings of movie stars and film
What goals did you have when you started 10 years ago?
K: Our goals were simple in the early years: Let’s bring great independent films to Boulder. These are films people aren’t going to see at the Cinemark. We’ve built other things, like workshops and panels, and we have a lot of parties because parties are where you bring people together to meet filmmakers. Year one, we wanted to nail the program and have it go well. If you have that foundation, you can build these other elements on top.
When did the two of you become interested in movies?
R: Kathy and I started working at movie theaters in our teens. There were eight movie theaters here in Boulder. There were a lot of opportunities to see great films. Now those theaters have closed. Although there are a few venues for independent films, I think the need outweighs what is available.
K: We’ve lived here for 35 years. We were popcorn girls in high school and worked up on the Hill. There were two theaters up there. One was the Fox; the other was the Flatiron. I worked at one, and Robin worked at the other.
Did watching movies as kids influence the way you make films today?
R: We learned you’ve got to have a great story. We weren’t technically very good, but we knew how to tell great stories. We made the film about the frozen dead guy up in Nederland that Michael Moore funded. It’s about a guy who froze his grandfather to try to reanimate him someday. It’s just a funny story about the people in Nederland.
How do you decide which films to include each year?
K: We research other festivals, see what’s winning awards, and what audience favorites are. Another way is through our selection process.
R: More than 1,000 films are considered. We’ve got 10, 12 people. Some are University of Colorado teachers, some are film reviewers. They look over hundreds of films. We look for the new, fresh films. One of this year’s BIFF films is a documentary that is on the short list for the Academy Awards: God Loves Uganda. We like to balance films that have a track record and films that are brand-new.
How do you handle rejections for those 1,000-plus films you don’t take?
R: I hate that part. There are so many great films out there. My mom used to say, “There are a lot of hopes in these; hopes and dreams.” And it’s so true. It’s hard to say no. I wish I could show 1,000 films. It’s hard, but we need to bring the very best to Boulder.
5280.com Exclusive: Read more about Boulder Film Festival 2014 here.
—Photograph by Morgan Rachel Levy