Stanley Hotel Film Festival “Think Tank” Plans for 2017

The Stanley Hotel panorama. Source: The Stanley Film Festival, Estes Park CO.
The Stanley Hotel panorama. Source: The Stanley Film Festival, Estes Park CO.

By Kay Whatley (Editor, with Frederic Lahey, Stanley Film Center

The Stanley Film Festival has brought horror cinema to a world-famous scare spot: The Stanley Hotel, which inspired Stephen King to pen, The Shining. With the next festival planned for 2017, a group of industry experts is gathering in April 2016 to set a plan in motion for next year.

Set against the backdrop of beautiful Colorado mountains, horror fans have basked in the screen glow for the Stanley Film Festival each year since 2013.  Each year’s festival has included classic and contemporary independent horror cinema, produced by established and new filmmakers. It’s a festival that is good for the public — those who love a good scare — and for filmmakers to gain exposure within the genre. The four-day event usually includes screenings, Q&A discussions, industry panels, the “Stanley Dean’s Cup” student film competition, and special events for cinema insiders, horror enthusiasts, and related artists.

This letter from the festival organizers was shared online to let film fans know what is going on for this year:

Dear fans and supporters of the Stanley Film Center and Festival:

The Stanley Hotel is pleased to announce a major investment to ensure its legacy as a global destination for the horror film genre.  The State of Colorado has awarded the Stanley $11.6 million to build a world-class film center, archive and auditorium on the grounds of the Historic Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, CO.  The funding will allow the Stanley Hotel to offer 365-day programming, special exhibits and events that will thrill and inspire the next generation of film fans.  The Film Center will serve as an extension of the Stanley Film Festival, launched in 2013, and will allow us to build on our past success to accomplish even more ambitious endeavors for years to come.

As a direct result of this exciting new development, we are calling on our friends, partners and creative thinkers from around the world to help us define our vision.  This year from April 27-29, 2016, instead of the standard film festival, we will be hosting a special think-tank symposium and creative session to kick-off this mission.  This special 3-day event will be our chance to collect ideas and feedback from those who have supported us over the past years as well as an opportunity to capture new perspectives.

The outcome is simple: to create a Film Center and Festival that will exceed the expectations of the industry, and of our dedicated fans.

While this year’s event is limited to film ambassadors and planners, the festival will return as a bigger and better public celebration of the horror film genre in April 2017.

Thanks for your support of the Stanley Film Center and Festival as we grow and evolve to surpass all of your expectations!

Go NoCO provided the $11.6 million funding. Online at, Go NoCO (Go Northern Colorado) is a program of the Colorado Economic Development Commission which was formed in response to the state’s Regional Tourism Act. This act awards resources designed to help realize new possibilities for the area. Go NoCO’s projects are designed to draw a significant number of new tourists, while also bringing more value to these community.

The Stanley Film Center is located “at the footstep of Rocky Mountain National Park” and is being groomed to be the “permanent home of the horror film genre.” The Think Tank this year will be not only planning for future film festivals, but looking at how the funding will improve offerings year-round.  The Stanley Film Center plan includes adding a 500-seat auditorium, an outdoor theatre, creative classrooms, digital audio and film mixing studios, a sound stage, film discovery center, and film archive.

Famous for its opulent interior and architecture, The Stanley Hotel offers visitors spectacular views of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. It is more than just a place for film fans to walk where Stephen King walked (or wrote); the hotel is Listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a member of the Historic Hotels of America.

Originally opened in 1909, the hotel has been featured as one of America’s most haunted hotels and visitor and staff stories continue the chills today. The Stanley Hotel — and next year’s film festival — are about an hour from Denver CO.The Stanley is located at 333 Wonderview Avenue, in Estes Park CO.

For more information on the Stanley Film Festival, watch for updates on

Or, book a stay and check it out between festivals. Call 970.577.4000 or visit

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About Kay Whatley 2233 Articles
Kay Whatley serves as Editor and Reporter with The Grey Area News. Kay is a published author with over 20 years of experience in the publishing industry. Kay Whatley is wife to Frank Whatley, founder of The Grey Area™ newspaper and The Grey Area News online news website.