We can hardly believe that one of our favorite local events, the Berkshire International Film Festival, turned 10 years old this year. That’s a decade of bringing world-class independent features, documentaries, short films, and family films, as well as panel discussions and special events with filmmaking luminaries, to our little corner of Massachusetts. Does it get much better?
The answer is a big, resounding yes, especially if you love great design, an amazing party full of supporters of the arts, and incredible food. Just last week, the BIFF hosted its 10th annual fund-raising gala—featuring interior and graphic design by Annie, a longtime BIFF board member, and her talented team—and the results were off-the-charts fantastic.
Needing a memorable venue for a few hundred film-loving folks, the BIFF chose the Walter J. Koladza Airport, otherwise known as the Great Barrington Airport, in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, as the site for its 10-year anniversary party. In keeping with the location, everything—from the décor to the uniforms of the event staff and the place cards on the tables—featured a classic aviation theme.
Annie’s crew brought in cloud-printed fabric to hang from the ceilings, and swaths of gossamer white fabric to cover the not-quite-party-ready walls of the hangar. A two-seater plane was even hoisted overhead on a lift to give the feeling of flight.
For the tables and the printed materials, Annie went with a simple yet impactful combo of red, white, and French blue. The tables were given the graphic treatment with red cotton runners down the middle, blue-and-white hydrangea centerpieces in shiny silver-finish square vases, French-blue-striped napkins, and bright, eye-catching “in-flight” menu cards. Our favorite touch? The cards used to identify the tables, printed with the codes of famous airports.
The program for the evening was designed as a boarding pass that guests received as they arrived at the party, and it also included an auction listing and auction number.
And then there were the swag bags. How cute are these? Tucked into each partygoer’s bright red shopper was a French-blue-striped cosmetic case stuffed with fun takeaways, from a microdermabrasion consultation to a squeezy-ball globe, complimentary items from standout local businesses like Jane Iredale and the Red Lion Inn, and, of course, a BIFF button.
And the food? In a word, unbelievable. Annie’s good friend and longtime favorite caterer Dan Mathieu of Boston’s Max Ultimate Food outdid himself with a delicious and gorgeously presented feast, starting with a tangy salad of roasted beets, watermelon radish, and tomatoes, progressing through a delicate pan-roasted bass, and finishing off with a multidessert dance party (our top pick: the Lime Cilantro Sorbet).
Three hundred fifty people attended the sold-out BIFF 2014 gala, which featured an exclusive short film by director and special-effects legend Douglas Trumbull—the same film maverick who’s been nominated for five Academy Awards and is now part of the Science Fiction Hall of Fame, thanks to his work on movies like 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Andromeda Strain, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Blade Runner, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, and The Tree of Life.
The auction was also a huge success, with Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick offering up two home-cooked dinners for eight at his Berkshire home. Here’s the governor on the right—with his wife, Diane, the mastermind of the dinners, in the center, just in front of Annie—along with Dan Mathieu, BIFF founder Kelley Vickery, Jacqueline Togut, and Kate Morris. By the way, both dinners went for a cool $18,000, all of which goes back to the BIFF to help bring phenomenal films and filmmakers to its annual festival.
And just for fun, here’s Annie with good friend Kelley, right before the party got under way.
Huge congratulations to Kelley, Annie, and both of their crews for an unforgettable event. We’re not sure how they’re going to top it next year, but we look forward to finding out.