Boulder International Film Festival completes another successful run

Boulder International Film Festival (Boulder Theater/facebook)

The Boulder International Film Festival (BIFF) attracts movie-fanatics and industry professionals from around the world. Now in its 15th year, the festival brought in more than 25,000 people from Feb. 28 to March 3, for a long weekend of films around the Boulder-area, including at eTown Hall, the Boulder Theater and the Longmont Museum.

BIFF featured films from a variety of genres, from documentaries to short film compilations to dramas. Many of the films are premiered at the festival, while others have been nominated for or have won awards at others, such as the renowned Sundance and Tribeca film festivals.

Anna Haynes, a CU student who attended the festival, said, “I thought it was fascinating how wide an array of films there was at the festival. There’s something for everyone.”

For those who wanted a four-day movie marathon, the festival offered a pass, which included most screenings in Boulder and access to exclusive events—for a paltry $450. For the poor college student, however, choosing one or two films for $15 each was a better choice for our Venmo accounts.

As a musician, of course I decided to view two music documentaries: “The Show’s the Thing: The Legendary Promoters of Rock” and “Satan & Adam.”

Watching the stories behind the epic musicians of the 20th century was truly riveting. “The Show’s the Thing: The Legendary Promoters of Rock” explores the lives of the music industry’s grand architects: the promoters. Promoters, such as Frank Barsalona, Bill Graham and Harvey Goldsmith, while not well-known to the general public, were instrumental in building the modern music and touring industry from nothing. In the 1960s, before these pioneers, music tours as we know them today didn’t even exist! Bon Jovi and Santana also appeared in the film, sharing how promoters built their international careers and became their closest supporters and friends.

“It talked about a part of the music industry that casual music listeners like myself don’t really think about…it showed how essential the behind-the-scenes work is to the music world,” Haynes said.

After the film, photographer Amalie Rothschild and directors Molly Bernstein and Philip Dolin came onstage for a Q&A with the audience. Rothschild, a photographer for the Fillmore East and Woodstock, reflected on her experiences working with famous promoters, including Bill Graham.

 “The most important thing was…Bill (Graham) cared about giving the public the best show he possibly could.” Rothschild said.

Scott Balcerek’s “Satan & Adam” revealed a completely different side of the music industry. Following two blues musicians from the streets of Harlem, New York City in the 1980s to musical success on the big stages over 23 years, “Satan & Adam” showed music’s ability to connect people and bridge racial divides. The story began when Adam Gussow, a white Ivy League graduate and harmonica player, asked to join in on a jam session with black street musician Sterling Magee, known as “Mister Satan.” From then on, the unlikely duo were nearly inseparable, refusing to let any challenge prevent them from sharing their musical vision with the world.

 “I definitely want to go again next year and see more films that I otherwise would likely never see.” Haynes said.

Contact Arts Writer Isabella Fincher at

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