Chilly temperatures and light snow didn't stop the show Thursday night as a sellout crowd turned out for the Valentine's Day red carpet gala and opening night of the ninth annual Boulder International Film Festival.
"We don't want it to be too nice. This is perfect film weather," said Robin Beeck, who founded the festival with her sister, Kathy, in 2005.
The festival drew 5,000 attendees its first year. Beeck said organizers are expecting as many as 19,000 people this year.
"It just keeps growing and growing, and it's a great community event," she said.
In a break from festival tradition, this year's gala was not held at the Boulder Theater, the venue where the opening-night film -- the music documentary "Muscle Shoals," directed and produced by Boulder's own Greg "Freddy" Camalier -- was screened at 8 p.m.
Instead, the gala was split into two parties, one held in the Hotel Boulderado ballroom and another across the street at Rembrandt Yard, both featuring live music, fine foods, beer and wine from the Francis Ford Coppola Winery.
"This is a great idea, spreading it out like this," Boulder resident and multi-year BIFF veteran Bill Dennler said as he snacked on treats at Rembrandt Yard. One of Dennler's favorite additions this year was various volunteers who paraded the party venues dressed as famous movie characters including Darth Vader and Dorothy and her pals from "The Wizard of Oz."
Another longtime BIFF veteran, Sushil Abraham, recently relocated to Frederick, Md., after years of living in Boulder. He said he came back to town specifically for the festival this weekend and hopes to see 16 films, which would be a new record for him.
"It's a great festival, and I really enjoy it," he said.
Andrea Meyer, of Boulder, was attending her first BIFF event Thursday night and said she and her boyfriend were excited for "Muscle Shoals."
"This is a really cool event, and it's nice that it is on Valentine's Day," she said.
Two other films on Meyer's must-see list this weekend are "My Father and the Man in Black," a documentary about Johnny Cash and his longtime manager, and "The Iceman." Based on true events, "The Iceman" chronicles the life of Richard Kuklinski, whose wife and kids, at the time of his arrest in 1986, had no idea he was one of the most prolific contract killers in America.
The last guest to stroll up the red carpet and into the theater Thursday night before "Muscle Shoals" began rolling was this year's BIFF "Pinnacle Award" winner and two-time Academy Award-nominated actor Peter Fonda. Fonda sported a white scarf and black dress coat, accented with a pair of bright red Oakley Formula One motorsport racing boots.
The actor said he was happy to have been invited and called Boulder one of the best cities in America. He said he was excited to see "Muscle Shoals."
"I've heard so much about it," Fonda said. "This is my chance to see it on the big screen."
Contact Camera Staff Writer Joe Rubino at 303-473-1328 or email@example.com.