Boulder International Film Festival’s must-see screenings and events

To say I’m a movie fan is a bit of an understatement.

A snippet of the DVD collection belonging to Kalene McCort, Daily Camera features reporter. (Kalene McCort/Staff Writer)

If one were to step inside my pantry, they’d find a stockpile of Twizzlers, a myriad of thrift store coffee mugs and about 150 DVDs — concert docs, cult classics and, yes, even a sprinkling of rom-coms because some days my uterus gets the best of me.

Truth is, I don’t even have a DVD player or a TV for that matter. Up until last month, I was watching them on my elderly MacBook Pro — but a necessary upgrade revealed that they simply don’t make laptops with a DVD slot anymore.

And, yes, I’m the girl who, despite now having SiriusXM Radio in my car, simply can’t part with my black binder CD case that, in addition to housing gems like Fiona Apple’s “Tidal” and Joni Mitchell’s “Blue,” boasts burned mixed compilations — silver, and slightly scratched, orbs whose curated song tracks are scribbled in Sharpie by folks from my past.

When I lived on James Island, in Charleston, S.C., I’d often go to the Terrace Theater — an arthouse and independent cinema — for a serotonin boost. Just walking through the doors was an instant mood-changer. It was there I saw “Boyhood,” “The Florida Project,” “The Big Sick,” “American Honey,” “The Beguiled” and as a pre-Halloween outing “Rocky Horror Picture Show” — complete with a live theater troupe standing mid-screen, thrusting their hearts out.

Last summer — during times of social distancing — my landlords decided to mount a large square piece of white-painted wood on the side of my carriage house. With their projector, come nightfall, that smooth piece of lumber transformed into a screen where we watched “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” and stoner classic “Dazed and Confused” by filmmaker Richard Linklater, with whom I share a birthday.

I’ve seen Cameron Crowe’s “Almost Famous” and “Singles” so many times I could probably perform both at this point as a one-woman show. The scripts are forever planted in my brain, along with the words to Stillwater’s “Fever Dog.”

During lockdown, before my original computer died, my DVDs served me well. Quite honestly, I think that they even got me through the pandemic. With concerts on hold, in-person interviews in limbo and no real designated “pod,” I took solace in revisiting movies I’d seen a dozen times before.

With rounds of vaccines being dispersed, we can finally all gather. This is the summer to not sleep — and with it comes the return of Boulder International Film Fest. The long-running event — normally held in colder months — is taking on a different shape this year and why shouldn’t it? Coming out of quarantine and reemerging with a new vibe after surviving an actual pandemic is something we all should embrace.

While this year’s lineup of films is impressive and worthy, I selected a few that I feel should be on everyone’s radar.

In 2000’s “High Fidelity”— based on the 1995 Nick Hornby novel — the concept of “top-five” is thrown around when it comes to records, devastating break-ups and dream jobs of music store owner Rob Gordon — played by John Cusack.

So, without further ado — in no particular order — here are my top five BIFF picks.

“Summer of Soul (Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised),” Friday, 4 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Chautauqua Auditorium — Anything that Roots musician Questlove is involved in has got to be good, but this doc directed by the skilled drummer seems to be on another level. I’ve watched the trailer several times and with each viewing I get more jazzed about this release that features never-before-seen footage from the Harlem Cultural Festival. Over six weeks, during the summer of 1969, folks gathered to take in spellbinding sets by Stevie Wonder, Sly and the Family Stone, The 5th Dimension, Nina Simone and many others. It pains me to think that this epic event wasn’t at all mentioned in my History of Rock ‘N’ Roll elective back in my college days, but I’m grateful I get to learn more about it now.

The 4 p.m. slot is the film-only screening ($37.83). The Green Carpet Gala and opening night screening consists of the gala starting at 5:30 p.m., followed by the film at 7:30 p.m. ($100.92).

“Tom Petty, Somewhere You Feel Free,” Saturday, 8 p.m., Chautauqua Auditorium — How can you not love the late-Tom Petty? Seeing the man perform at Bonnaroo, in 2006, forever solidified my adoration for him and he’s from my place of origin — Florida — so I guess it’s natural to feel a kinship. In Mary Wharton’s doc we see rare footage of the “American Girl” singer in the early ‘90s, a time when he crafted the emotionally raw and highly listenable album “Wildflowers.”

Director Mary Wharton and producer Dan Braun will participate in a post-film Q&A conducted by Ron Bostwick. ($17-$18)

“Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain,” Saturday, 4:15 p.m., Chautauqua Auditorium — While not a music doc, this one gives viewers an intimate look into Anthony Bourdain – who tackled life in and out of the kitchen with a certain punk-rock edge. Heck, the chef had a long friendship with Marky Ramone, and the drummer even penned a tribute to Bourdain in Rolling Stone. For foodies and those who simply hunger for life, long to travel and experience the good stuff, his death felt incredible personal. The Morgan Neville flick spotlights his road from celebrity chef and author to TV travel host. A number of those closest to him weigh in on the sensitivity of the culinary icon.

Director Morgan Neville will be awarded BIFF’s first Career Achievement Award in Documentary Filmmaking after the screening. Come to the venue at least 10 minutes prior to the screening for the possibility of acquiring an additional stand-by ticket.

“Us Kids,” Saturday, film starts at 9 p.m., gates open at 7 p.m., music at 7:30 p.m., Q&A panel discussion at 8 p.m., Boulder High Soccer Field — A chilling and powerful look at the steps youth leaders are taking in responses to the gun violence that has rocked this country, this doc features the teen activists that emerged following their own school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, Fla. The free event is presented in memory of Jody Waters, who lost her life in the March 22 south Boulder King Soopers shooting. Donations for, an organization her family launched to carry on her love and support of dogs, are encouraged.

Free, but registration is required. Director Kim A. Snyder and Parkland survivor and activist Samantha “Sam” Fuentes will be a part of a talkback and discussion prior to the film.

“Mission: Joy – Finding Happiness in Troubled Times,” Sunday, film at 7:45 p.m., awards ceremony at 7:30 p.m. — Last year took a toll on so many and it seems we all could use some tips on how to find the silver lining when days are dark. Former Boulderite Louie Psihoyos, takes a step back from making an action-packed environmental-driven doc and instead focuses on the often-playful relationship between The Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu in this latest release.

Ron Bostwick will conduct a Q&A with Louie Psihoyos after the film. ($37.83)

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