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COLUMN: Vail Film Festival has something for everyone

Published: Monday, April 1, 2013

Updated: Monday, April 1, 2013 04:04

Ski lift lights silently soared in the dark, mirroring the ascending aspirations of artists drawn to the Vail mountainside. The 2013 Vail Film Festival promised to be an excursion to the summit of why film is loved, and it kept its word.

At the outset, the festival’s buoyant energy permeated the culture of the town. On the corner of every street and smile, word of the event’s happenings found its way to the forefront of the collective consciousness. Residents happily shared information and excitement for the festival.

From student films to shorts to full-length features, there was something for every cinephile in attendance.

The film that won Best Feature was “Drinking Buddies,” directed by Joe Swanberg and starring Olivia Wilde, Jake Johnson, Anna Kendrick and Ron Livingston. The checkered narrative and ambiguous ending reflect the sometimes unresolved nature of relationships. The film’s strength was undoubtedly the acting.

The award show was the festival’s highlight. Tate Taylor (director of “The Help”) and actress Allison Janney (“American Beauty,” “Juno”) were in attendance. Taylor won the 2012 Excellence in Directing Award. Janney, Taylor’s life-long friend and recurring collaborator, presented the award and conducted an interview with Taylor, which culminated in a Q-and-A session.  

Topics discussed ranged from inspirations to upbringing to various facets of the craft of filmmaking. One of the most heartening moments was when Taylor talked about how he had to borrow $10,000 from Janney before success with “The Help,” simply to stay afloat.

Janney affably responded to his eventual repayment by ecstatically saying, “No one ever pays me back.”

But likely the most sentimental and inspirational moment of the dialogue occurred when Taylor was asked what philosophical message he tries to put in the world via his art. He began by stating that film is collaborative and draws him in because unlikely friendships and connections can be forged, but ultimately his answer was simply, “Humanity.”

And therein lies the essence of love for film. At the core of everyone is a love for humanity — in individuals and communities. Films are windows into the stories of others, which could otherwise only be dreamed.

Alex Graff is graduate student studying education and an arts reporter for The Mirror.

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