Catch a movie at Docuwest

John Akal, Avenue Flashes

I like movies.

I don’t think I’m alone in this as millions of people rent movies every day and millions more watch them on some kind of television station every night. Then of course there are millions more who actually go to a theater and watch them on the big screen too. Let's be honest, movies are a pretty big fact of life for most of us.

Of course, there are those huge budget Hollywood blockbusters that come out every month which you can’t help but become aware of because they start advertising their opening about two months before the film actually appears. Those big movie companies throw a lot of money into their products and spend just as much getting everyone interested in seeing them. Sometimes the trailers are better than the movies!

But there are also a lot of talented film makers out there who put together things on a much smaller budget that don’t always get the attention they deserve. How many times have you watched the Oscars and seen the award for “Best Documentary Film” and had never even heard of it? Well, I hate to admit it, but most of the time I have never heard of the film either. I usually see my documentaries on PBS or something at least a year after they were first released.

Well, for those of you who are interested in documentaries, there is something pretty terrific coming up. It’s the fifth annual DocuWest Documentary Film Festival, and it’s happening right here in Golden at the Foothills Art Center and the Foss Theater in the American Mountaineering Center. There will also be screenings in Boulder inside the Dairy at the Boedecker Theater

The festival runs Sept. 11-15 and will feature 46 films this year. Most of them will be premiering in Colorado for the first time, so you probably haven’t seen them yet.

Opening night is at the American Mountaineering Center and features the film Good Ol’ Freda. This is the story of a teenaged girl named Freda Kelly from Liverpool who was once asked to work for a local band trying to make it big. The band was the Beatles and she was their very loyal secretary and friend for many years. In this film she tells the inside stories of what it was like to ride the wave to fame that changed pop culture forever. It’s actually one of the few projects approved by the living Beatles and is filled with their music as well.

Good Ol’ Freda will be shown at the American Mountaineering Center, 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 11.

Another featured documentary will be The Crash Reel. It’s the story of snowboarders Kevin Pearce and Shaun White who were friends and fellow competitors since childhood. They were the two top hopefuls for the Vancouver Olympics when Kevin crashed badly on a half pipe in Park City Utah and ended up fighting for his life. This film features fifteen years of footage of the two as they grew up and is sure to be an emotional journey for any snowboarder out there.

The Crash Reel will be show at the American Mountaineering Center on Saturday, Sept. 14 at 7:30 p.m.

For more information on the festival and the other 44 films they will be showing check out their website at You can order tickets there and the prices range from $6 to $12 for a single film or they offer All Access Passes for the entire festival at $50 for Adults and $45 for Seniors/Students.

The next time that “Best Documentary” award rolls around, you might actually be able to say “I saw that!”

John Akal is a well-known jazz artist/drummer and leader of the 20-piece Ultraphonic Jazz Orchestra. He also is president of John Akal Imaging, professional commercial photography and multi-media production.