Nestled in the Rocky Mountains, an hour’s drive away from the Telluride airport, resides Crested Butte, a former mining village now dubbed the “last great Colorado ski town.” It boasts a ‘70s nostalgic charm that’s been seemingly untouched by corporate hotel chains. And for the past eight years, it’s been the home of the Crested Butte Film Festival, founded by filmmaker couple Jen and Michael Brody, making it a prime destination for cinephiles to add to their fall festival circuit list.
For its eighth year, the producers curated a prestige programming slate of 110 films that personify the progressive, environmentally friendly, and globally conscious ethos of its community. Case in point, the debut of Colin Monda’s timely wildlife documentary, The Trouble With Wolves, which incorporated an actual live wolf on stage during the Q&A to highlight the urgency of the film’s mission.
CBFF’s dedication to the arts is especially evident in its mentorship efforts, incorporating a youth critic program judged by kids in grades 8-12, who arejust as culturally opinionated as any film prodigy in NYC.
Community integration is perhaps what elevates (no pun intended at 10,000 feet above sea level) Crested Butte apart from some of the larger legacy festivals in the region. As an attendee, it took a mere 24 hours to get on a first-name basis with the festival staff, local sponsors, and filmmakers. After all, nothing solidifies bonding like an altitude acclimating kickoff bike-a-thon through a sea of golden pines.
On what makes Crested Butte Film Festival so unique, cofounder Jennifer Brody says, “Now, more than ever, the importance of gathering as a community and sharing stories is paramount. As we seek to understand each other across the chasms that divide us, stories serve as a bridge, bringing us closer together by opening us to different perspectives and worlds. “
The festival is also committed to making strides in advancing gender parity in the film industry, with roughly 40% of its programming this year featuring women directors. Refinery29’s own female-helmed Shatterbox series had three films from its second cycle competing in #CBFF’s narrative shorts program:
One Cambodian Family Please, For My Pleasure; A narrative dramatic short directed by AM Lukas starring Emily Mortimer as a Czechoslovakian refugee who yearns to adopt a family of Cambodian refugees and provide them a better life in Fargo, ND.
Are You Still Singing, directed by Gilly Barnes, yielded uproarious laughter as audiences watched the telegram singing protagonist (Joey Alley) try to hold it together after her marriage ends and her anxiety prescription runs out in the middle of back-to-back performances.
French Fries, directed by Claws showrunner Janine Sherman Barrois, stole the Crested Butte Film Festival award for Best Comedic Short, with its hilarious depiction of a hip Black foodie couple’s fight to resolve communication problems in a modern marriage of six years, four months, and three-and-a-half days.