Organizing the festival the way it is – by keeping its screenings in two blocks later in the day – it gives you enough time to enjoy the day. While some of this time is used to put together the short articles and review photos from the day before, there’s more than enough time to take in the surroundings as well. I take up my usual post by the very large window at the hotel’s in house bar. After enjoying the Hooter’s calendar girls rehearsing their poolside fashion show again, and with a belly full of truffle fries (hell yes) and red meat, I head to the Pitkin County Library. Even though it’s mostly based on my desire to be somewhat professional, I assure you the library is equally calming – just in a different way. Yeah, Aspen’s great.
Aspen Film has been doing a solid job of putting together little soirées to keep filmmakers happy and engaged in some very interesting conversation. I’d love to tell you that I have an entire gallery of pictures from the event at Victoria’s Espresso and Wine Bar, but there was free wine and fish so that’s not going to happen. If you were in my shoes at a tiny venue with people you enjoy, pleasant conversation and free food and booze, you would be just as excited and equally as incapable of taking pictures. Hopefully you understand.
The conversation bounced around between a number of topics. We talked about our favorites from the festival so far. We excitedly conversed about the screenings that will happen in the not too distant future. They touched upon the fact that I look quite similar to Gael Garcia Bernal, which, unfortunately, is probably the only way a handful of these filmmakers will remember me. The conversations quickly drew to a close as we headed over to the Wheeler and prepared ourselves for the next batch of mini masterpieces.
As always, the festival dishes out a wide range of intriguing and completely involving stories. Ian McClusky‘s “Summer Snapshot” forces us to reminisce about those amazing times spent with dear friends in summers past. Andrew Bowler‘s “Time Freak” is a clever telling of an eccentric inventor with OCD who’s use of his newly built time machine takes a turn for the comical. Those films were all great in their own right, but two films struck a chord with me: Kevin Breslin’s “Living for 32,” and Matt Piedmont’s “Brick Novax’s Diary.”
Kevin Breslin‘s “Living for 32” is a 40 minute documentary which follows Colin Goddard – the survivor of the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting – as he fights for change. Breslin gives us an almost firsthand look inside one of the most tragic shootings in American history by chronicling Goddard’s quest for change. This unique look into Goddard’s life shows his reflections on the horrifying events that transpired and his involvement with the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. There are many images that hit close to home, but it isn’t until I see the four entry wounds on his body, made by legally purchased hollow points, that I am truly taken there. The film also showcases the ease with which illegal firearms can be obtained by capturing just such a purchase on hidden camera at a gun show. Truly understanding how easy it is to get lethal weapons into the hands of the wrong person, juxtaposed with the arduous steps being taken to achieve change make this film an eye opening experience and one I highly recommend you see.
On the other end of the spectrum is Matt Piedmont‘s “Brick Novax’s Diary,” which brilliantly chronicles the fictional life of the ultimate everyman, Brick Novax. The film takes on a much lighter note, and it’s safe to say this was the funniest film I have seen thus far. Last year the people at Funny Or Die sent their short “Drunken History” to Sundance to claim the Jury Prize in short film. This year, they repeated their success with “Brick Novax’s Diary.” The creator, Piedmont, who’s written for SNL and is currently working on a Spanish speaking feature starring Will Ferrel, artistically crafts a beautiful story about a dying man. Holed up in a shady motel and armed with a tape recorder, Novax begins telling the story of his life. A story which includes: inventing Space Scotch, becoming the #1 folk singer in the world and being born with a mustache. To put it quite simply, “Brick Novax’s Diary” is perfect. The sixteen minute masterpiece is completely filmed using dolls and 1/6 scale models of hotels, suburban homes and even space, making it unique and extremely pleasing to watch.
After the screenings, everyone headed over to BB’s Kitchen for some much needed after-screening relaxation. As rumors of a possible collective short featuring all of the filmmakers at the festival begin in whispers, I imagine to myself how amazing that would be if it actually happens. The relaxed atmosphere of the festival is continuously strengthening the newly founded relationships between the filmmakers, the festival staff and the fans, to the point that it’s easy to see and impossible to ignore. Carefully chaperoned by the loving Aspen Film staff who have gone out of their way to make not only the filmmakers lives easier but made the average filmgoer’s enjoyment a priority, I can’t help but feel like this very diverse collection of individuals has become sort of an extended family. As if all of that isn’t enough, I met a man with an enormous mustache.