"What's your tampon?" Though out of context it may not mean much, this simple phrase, uttered by Ash Beckham of TedX fame, was enough to bring an anxious crowd to their feet. While the main event was still yet to come, Beckham, the keynote speaker for the BolderLife Festival opening gala, was a hard act to follow. Speaking about her own story of coming out, but still living in fear of judgement and question in public bathrooms, Beckham began the first of many "difficult," conversations, which will act as an underlying theme of this year's festival. Offering advice such as "Please don't be frozen in the ice of your insecurity," Beckham paved the way for the rest of the night's activities, even if the big time stars ended up postponing.
The BolderLife festival is a weeklong event that "...supports emotional education and growth with programming aimed at high-school students and the wider community." Through mediums such as film, theater, and dance, matched with corresponding educational events, BolderLife helps bridge the gap between discomfort and understanding. While often misstated as a simple film festival, the event (which runs through Sunday) aims to introduce taboo subjects through film, theater, and art, opening up dialogue and education. The 501c3 non-profit organization's goal is to cultivate mindfulness and courage, while exploring that which makes us uncomfortable.
For this year's installment, some of the bigger names include a film opening and discussion with Jason Bateman, as well as musical performances by Pink and Colbie Caillat. Along with the stars, the festival will also showcase ten films, host two days of theater programs, and align both of these with seven targeted educational panels, and three half day student programing courses. The festival is also host to a plethora of exhibits, as well as local art. The film and theater pieces vary in length and topic, with their synopsis found here.
Along with both high school and community education, the BolderLife Festival is also a philanthropic endeavor. While the event is open to any and all interested parties, it does have a focus on women's and youth empowerment. This year's installment has chosen to partner with and feature multiple local and national non-profits that fall under this mission. The featured organizations are Safehouse Denver, FreeTheGirls.org, Educate2Protect, Amy's House for Girls, Dress for Success, and iEmpathize. The festival also has a monthly or yearly donating option, named BolderLove, with proceeds continuing to fund educational events targeted at middle and high school-aged students.
For those of you in the Denver area, don't miss out on your chance to experience the sights, sounds, and lessons in abundance at this year's BolderLife Festival. Through difficult conversations and immersing yourself directly in discomfort, hopefully this weekend you'll leave with an answer to Beckham's closing question, "What is the one thing stopping you from being the authentic you?"
Photo courtesy of BolderLife Festival