Boulder International Film Festival Information

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Boulder International Film Festival
Boulder International Film Festival logo.svg
Location Boulder, Colorado, United States

The Boulder International Film Festival (BIFF), sponsored by the Colorado Film Society, is held annually on Presidents Day Weekend in Boulder, Colorado USA, and has developed a reputation as one of the most compelling young film festivals in the U.S., exhibiting a number of new-but-unknown feature films, documentaries, animations, and shorts that have gone on to significant box-office success and multiple Oscar nominations, including Monsieur Lazhar, Burma VJ, Revanche, Wasp, Miracle Fish, The Conscience of Nhem Eh, Waste Land, Incident in New Baghdad, Instead of Abracadabra, Raju, The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, West Bank Story, The Secret of Kells, 5 Broken Cameras, Chasing Ice, Curfew, Asad, The Missing Picture, and The Wind Rises. More than 23,600 filmmakers, national media, special guests and film enthusiasts attended the four-day BIFF 2014.

BIFF has shown the work of other honored filmmakers such as Danny Boyle, Jason Reitman, Daniel Junge, Helen Hunt, Marshall Curry, Luc Besson, and Lasse Halstrom.

The Founding of BIFF

The Festival was founded in 2004 by two sisters from Boulder, CO, filmmakers Kathy and Robin Beeck. Having traveled extensively to film festivals worldwide with their films, the Beeck sisters saw Boulder as the perfect venue for a new festival which celebrated "the bold spirit of independent filmmaking." With BIFF, the sisters created what they perceived as a "filmmaker's film festival."

Festival co-creator Robin Beeck's secret to a great festival: “The theme of the festival is great storytelling. No matter what the budget, the mainstay has to be a wonderful, great story. We’ve got great stories that were expensive to make, and we have great stories that were made on a shoestring budget.”

Colorado Film Society

The Colorado Film Society (CFS), a non-profit umbrella organization, hosts the annual Film Festival. CFS is dedicated to nurturing and growing the vibrant film arts community in Boulder and along the Front Range. The mission of the CFS is to encourage and celebrate the art of film by creating a dynamic forum for artistic, social and cultural awareness in the community. The CFS offers four programs throughout the year: (1) the Boulder International Film Festival (BIFF); (2) the CFS Educational Outreach Program; (3) the CFS Community Resource Program; and (4) the CFS Film Series.

The CFS also inspires tomorrow’s film artists through year-round educational outreach programs, including “World Cinema Days” which bring international film, filmmakers, and presentations to local students; through Schmoozers, networking events which provide a venue for people involved or interested in the film arts and industry to mix and mingle, and through the CFS Community Resource Program, which provides various forms of no-cost support, resources and mentorship to many arts organizations in Boulder County.

Special Guests & Honorees

The Festival has hosted and celebrated many award-winning film figures, including Shirley MacLaine (Terms of Endearment, Sweet Charity, The Apartment), Peter Fonda (Easy Rider, Ulee's Gold, The Limey), Oliver Stone ( Platoon, Wall Street, Natural Born Killers), William H. Macy (Fargo, Boogie Nights, Door to Door), Alec Baldwin (The Cooler, Glengarry Glen Ross, The Hunt for Red October), Golden Globe-nominated actress Maria Bello (A History of Violence, The Cooler, Thank You for Smoking), filmmakers Michael and Mark Polish (Twin Falls Idaho, Northfork, The Astronaut Farmer), Academy Award-nominated writer and director Susannah Grant (Erin Brockovich, 28 Days, Catch and Release), masterful actor Martin Sheen (Badlands, Apocalypse Now, The Departed), renowned Hollywood screenwriter John August (Big Fish, Go, The Nines) along with many others, including Bill Plympton, Blythe Danner, James Franco, Don Hahn, and Lawrence Kasdan.


The festival's inaugural season showcased more than 50 films from around the world. Among the highlights were documentaries such as "Seoul Train," "Mardi Gras: Made in China" and "The Liberace of Baghdad," the regional premiere of Danny Boyle's "Millions," an early short from Jason Reitman ("Juno," "Up in the Air"), and a hilarious feature film from Curtis and Paul Hannum -- "The Real Old Testament," the Bible presented as reality TV.


Special guest artists during BIFF's coldest year to date included Maria Bello ("A History of Violence," "The Cooler"), Patrick Warburton ("The Education of Maxwell Bright"), Eric Roberts ("The Dark Knight," "Runaway Train," "Star 80"), and screenwriter Amy Fox. Director Andrew Quigley received a Special Jury Prize for his documentary "Diameter of the Bomb."


An eclectic mix of guests included the Polish Brothers ("The Astronaut Farmer," "Northfork"), screenwriter John August ("Go," Big Fish," "Frankenweenie"), the Denver Slam Poetry Team, and a contingent of air-guitar masters, the last in conjunction with the amazing documentary "Air Guitar Nation."


Among the high points of the 2008 BIFF were the opening-night premiere of Helen Hunt's directorial debut, "And Then She Found Me," the screening of Alex Gibney's " Taxi to the Dark Side," which won the Oscar shortly thereafter; concertizing by local luminaries such as Hazel Miller and Otis Taylor; an offsite showing of Eisenstein's classic " Alexander Nevsky," with the Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra playing the original score; and a sold-out closing night featuring the documentary "Stranded: I've Come from a Plane That Crashed on the Mountains."


Chevy Chase opened the 2009 Festival at the Boulder Theater. Emmy award-winning comedian, writer and actor, Chase received an Award of Excellence in Comedy which was followed by a film retrospective honoring his work. Mr. Chase then participated in a Q&A session hosted by Ron Bostwick, BIFF executive producer.

"Not only has Mr. Chase graced so many classic comedic films and been a major influence to countless comedians, he has also been a tireless advocate for this country's environmental movement which Coloradans are so passionate about," said Kathy Beek, festival co-founder and director. "We are truly honored Chevy is able to join us for a lively start to the festival."

BIFF was voted one of the “25 Coolest Film Festivals” MovieMaker Magazine. [1]


Closing Night of BIFF 2010 was a tribute to Alec Baldwin which included a film retrospective of his work followed by a question and answer session hosted by BIFF Executive Producer Ron Bostwick.

Three weeks following BIFF, Baldwin co-hosted the 2010 Academy Awards ceremony with his It’s Complicated co-star Steve Martin. Baldwin stars with Tina Fey on NBC’s “30 Rock”, winner of the Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series for the past three years. He’s received three SAG Awards, two Golden Globes, the Television Critics Award, and two Emmies for Best Actor in a Comedy Series.

“We are thrilled to have Mr. Baldwin attending the Boulder International Film Festival,” said Kathy Beeck, festival co-founder and director. “He’s a magnificent actor who has influenced many young actors and comedians, and we’re honored he will join us at this year’s festival.”


Besides featuring visits by Oliver Stone and James Franco, BIFF 2011 was crammed with significant content. From the festive opening-night feature "Troubadors" through the vibrant madness of "The Last Circus," an examination of the controversial legacy of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche in "Crazy Wisdom," a look at film preservation in "These Amazing Shadows," "Bag It!", "For Once in My Life," "Armadillo," and more, BIFF truly covered the world. Most moving was a "Freedom Riders" post-screening conversation with Congressman John Lewis.


William H. Macy and Martin Sheen were honored at the 2012 BIFF where both actors appeared to speak on stage as well as host a Q&A session. Anthony Bregman, producer of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and famed Empire Strikes Back and Raiders of the Lost Ark screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan were honorary guests as well. [2]


Peter Fonda was BIFF's closing-night guest in 2013. BIFF's Singer/Songwriter Showcase really came into its own that year, and educational outreach programs such as the Youth Pavilion, CU @ BIFF (BIFF's college-level program in association with the University of Colorado), and expanded workshops and panels all attracted new crowds.


Shirley MacLaine received the Career Achievement Award during her tribute at BIFF in 2014. For the first time ever, BIFF's fundraising FOOVIE (food and a movie) sold out and raised $15,000 for year-round BIFF programming. In addition, 2014 saw the release of an open-source Call 2 Action Toolkit that film festivals across the globe can use to easily adopt the festival's signature Call 2 Action program, joining the movement to harness the power of film for positive social change.


Josh Walker, Rodes Rollins and Dallas Thornton performed at the 2018 BIFF Singer-Songwriter Showcase in Boulder Colorado. [3]

Educational Outreach & Youth Advisory Council

In keeping with its commitment to bringing independent films to a wider audience the Festival formed a Youth Advisory Council (YAC). The Council was founded in 2008 and is made up of 12-15 local film enthusiasts in grades 8-12. The Council represents a youth voice at the Festival and helps select films for its student film program, juries the student film category and helps organize and promote film opportunities for students in Boulder County.

In addition to its Youth Advisory Council, BIFF hosts several 'World Cinema Days' throughout the school year. Their goal is to keep students meaningfully engaged by screening thoughtful student appropriate documentaries, films and animation during unstructured days off such as teacher “professional development” or “in-service days.” And to help parents arrange activities for their child on these non-school days. Features a free film program, presentations and group discussion for students in grade 4 through 12.

BIFF also works closely with the Boulder Public Library in offering free film to Boulder audiences through its 'Spotlight on BIFF' series at the Boulder Public Library Film Program in September, October, and November. The Spotlight includes ten “Best of the Fest” films and is free to students and the public.

Festival Winners

BIFF 2014

Category Film Director
People's Choice Award Keep On Keepin' On (a work-in-progress) Alan Hicks
Best Feature Film Le Week-End Roger Michell
Best Documentary Finding Vivian Maier John Maloof and Charlie Siskel
Catalyst Award Alive Inside Michael Rosato-Bennett
Best Short Film Saturday Girls Emilie Cherpitel
Special Jury Award for Documentary Film Mistaken for Strangers Tom Berninger
Best Colorado Film High and Hallowed: Everest 1963 David Morton and Jake Norton
Best Call 2 Action Film Documented Jose Antonio Vargas
Best New Filmmaker Keep On Keepin' On (a work-in-progress) Alan Hicks
Best Editing No No: A Dockumentary Jeffrey Radice

BIFF 2013

Category Film Director
Best Short Film Asad Brian Buckley
Best Documentary Short Open Heart Kief Davidson
Best Call 2 Action Film The Last Ocean Peter Young
Best Documentary Little World Marcel Barrena
Best Feature Film Blancanieves Pablo Berger
Best Adventure Film The Summit Nick Ryan
People's Choice Award Rising from the Ashes TC Johnstone
Grand Prize Muscle Shoals Greg "Freddy" Camalier

BIFF 2012

Category Film Director(s)
Best Short Film A Finger, Two Dots, Then Me Daniel Holechek, David M. Holechek
Best Documentary Short Incident in New Baghdad James Spione
Best Call 2 Action Film High Ground Michael Brown
Best Documentary Wild Horse, Wild Ride Alex Dawson, Greg Gricus
Best Feature Film Monsieur Lazhar Phillippe Faiardeau
Best Adventure Film Chasing Ice Jeff Orlowski
People's Choice Award High Ground Michael Brown

BIFF 2011

Category Film Director
Best New Filmmaker Touch Jen McGowan
Best Animated Film Thembi's Diary Jisoo Kim
Best Call 2 Action Film For Once in My Life Jim Bigham
Best Colorado Film Mother Christophe Fauchere
Best Short Film Glenn Owen Dodds Frazer Bailey
Best Short Documentary One Thousand Pictures: RFK's Last Journey Jennifer Stoddart
Best Feature Documentary Regretters Marcus Lindeen
Best Feature Film Mamas & Papas Alice Nellis
People’s Choice Award Freedom Riders Stanley Nelson

BIFF 2010

Category Film Director(s)
Most Creative Documentary Waking Sleeping Beauty Don Hahn
Best Call 2 Action Film Dive! Jeremy Seifert
Best Colorado Film Diplomacy Jonathan Goldman
Best Adventure Film The Wildest Dream Anthony Geffen
Best Animated Film Secret of Kells Tomm Moore
Best Short Film The Morse Collectors David Cooke
Best Short Documentary No Strings Daniel Junge
Best Feature Documentary The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers Rick Goldsmith and Judy Ehrlich
Best Feature Film I Am Love Luca Guadagnimo
Grand Prize Ajami Scandar Copti and Yaron Shani

BIFF 2009

Category Film Director(s)
Best Student Film In the Dark Alex and Sarah Fazelli
Best New Filmmaker The Prince of Broadway Sean Baker
Best Colorado Film They Killed Sister Dorothy Daniel Junge and Henry Ansbacher
Best Environmental Film American Outrage Beth and George Gage
Best Animated Film Sita Sings the Blues Nina Paley
Best Music Documentary The Story of Anvil Sacha Gervasi
Best Short Film Tag Natalya Uglitskikh
Best Short Documentary Smile Pinki Megan Mylan
Best Feature Documentary Pirate for the Sea Ron Colby and Patricia Van Ryker
Best Feature Film Nothing But the Truth Rod Lurie
Best Dramatic Comedy Sunshine Cleaning Christine Jeffs
Grand Prize Burma VJ: Reporting From a Closed Country Anders Ostergaard and Lise Lense-Miller

BIFF 2008

Category Film Director(s)
Best Student Film The Replacement Child Justin Lerner
Most Inspirational Film The Singing Revolution Jim Tusty and Maureen Castle
Best Colorado Film Iron Ladies of Liberia Daniel Junge and Siatta Scott Johnson
Best Comedy The Job Jonathan Browning
Best Animated Film The Fog Emilio Ramos
Best Short Film Tanghi Argentini Guido Thys
Best Short Documentary In Times of War: Ray Parker Mark and Christine Bonn
Best Feature Documentary War Dance Andrea Nix and Sean Fine
Best Feature Film Charlie Bartlett Jon Poll
Best Adventure Film 3 Peaks 3 Weeks Michael Brown
Grand Prize Stranded Gonzalo Arijon

BIFF 2007

Category Film Director(s)
Best Student Film Lucky Avie Luthra
Best New Filmmaker Hamilton Matthew Porterfield
Best Editing Drunk in Public David J. Sperling
Best Short Film High Maintenance Phillip Van
Best Colorado Film Purvis of Overtown David Raccuglia and Shaun Conrad
Best Animated Film Badgered Sharon Coleman
Best Short Documentary Talk to Me Mark Craig
Best Documentary Air Guitar Nation Alexandra Lipsitz
Best Documentary (Honorable Mention) The Cats of Mirikitani Linda Hattendorf
Best Feature Film Journey from the Fall Ham Tran
Grand Prize In the Shadow of the Moon David Sington

BIFF 2006

Category Film Director(s)(or Actor/Actress)
Best Student Film The Saviour Peter Templeman
Best New Filmmaker Frozen Food Section Andrew Menan
Best Short Film West Bank Story Ari Sandel
Best Colorado Film Light of the Himalaya Michael Brown
Best Animated Film Magda Chel White
Best Short Documentary Carhenge: Genius or Junk? David Libran
Best Documentary Boys of Baraka Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady
Best Adventure Film Ride across America Stephen Auerbach
Best Feature Film C.R.A.Z.Y. Jean-Marc Vallee
Best Actress C.R.A.Z.Y. Danielle Proulx
Best Actor The Civilization of Maxwell Bright Patrick Warburton
Special Jury Award Diameter of the Bomb Andrew Quigley

BIFF 2005

Category Film Director(s)
Best Student Film Pee Shy Deb Hagen
Best Short Film Down Dog Richard Roll
Best Short Film (Honorable Mention) Gay by Dawn Jonathan London
Best Colorado Film Subdivision, Colorado Neil Widener
Best Animated Film Road Raged Rodent Patrick Mallek
Best Short Documentary Caught in Paint Rita Blitt
Best Documentary Seoul Train Jim Butterworth and Aaron Lubarsky
Best Adventure Film Farther than the Eye Can See Michael Brown
Best Feature Film The Real Old Testament Curtis and Paul Hannum
Award of Excellence The Liberace of Baghdad Sean McAllister


  1. ^ Wood M., Jennifer (July 31, 2009). "25 Coolest Film Festivals: 2009". Archived from the original on March 1, 2012. Retrieved February 19, 2012.
  2. ^ Hagy, July (02/09/2012). "Heeeeere's BIFF! William H. Macy, Martin Sheen and other big names come to Boulder". Colorado Daily. Retrieved February 19, 2012. Check date values in: |date= ( help)
  3. ^ "BIFF Singer-Songwriter Showcase". Retrieved 2018-03-29.

External links