Thrills for the week

October 17
Around the world in eight days: An armchair traveler's best friend might well be the Denver International Film Festival, an annual fete featuring the best--old and new--of films from around the world. This year's star-studded event kicks off tonight at the Continental Theatre, I-25 and Hampden Ave., with the screening of the Australian flick Shine (a repeated object of the standing "O" at this year's Sundance fest), followed by a glitzy opening-night gala. The festival then continues daily through October 24 at the AMC Tivoli 12 theaters, 900 Auraria Pkwy., with a stunning lineup of special presentations, celebrity tributes, a showcase for Colorado filmmakers, a New Media Expo and the British Film Institute's Century of Cinema, a twelve-part retrospective series focusing on influen-tial directors from various countries, including America's Martin Scorsese. Stargazers, be forewarned: Receiving DIFF honors this year are actor Tony Curtis, animation pioneer Chuck Jones and directors Charles Burnett (To Sleep With Anger) and Adoor Gopalakrishnan of India, all of whom will be on hand to accept awards at selected screenings oftheir works. The late Krzysztof Kieslowski, whose marathon masterwork The Decalogue is to be shown in parts, will also share the festival's limelight. And capping off events back at the Continental next Thursday is a closing-night screening of Al Pacino's Looking for Richard, a film about the actor's process that was conceived and directed by Renaissance man Pacino (he also acts in it. Tickets to all festival happenings are available in advance at the Tivoli or by calling 830-TIXS; for additional information call 321-FILM.

Spiked punch: One punchline just isn't enough for comedian Wendy Liebman, who built her rising reputation on a subtle penchant for always having an afterthought. Even when you think she's finished the joke. Really. In journalism we call it a kicker, but in comedy, it's just plain laugh-out-loud funny, which is why Liebman is beginning to make noticeable waves in the comedy world. Look out, here she comes: Liebman will be in town through October 20 for a run at the Comedy Works, 1226 15th St., Larimer Square, performing at 8 tonight and Sunday, at 8 and 10 Friday, and at 6:45, 8:45 and 10:45 Saturday. Tickets range from $11 to $15; for information or reservations call 595-3637.

October 18
Folk it over: New folk, old folk--it's all the same to John Gorka, who feels that being named "the pre-eminent male singer-songwriter of the new folk movement" in Rolling Stone is nice but that the idea of "new folk" is oxymoronic. "As far as I know, folk music's always been there," Gorka says. So without further ado, let's welcome the erudite Jersey baritone, an absolute favorite on the folk circuit, to the Bluebird Theater, where he performs tonight at 8. Fellow singer-songwriter type Lucy Kaplanski, who is pals with folky leading lady Shawn Colvin, opens the show. Tickets to the concert, sponsored by the Swallow Hill Music Association, are $15 ($13 Swallow Hill members); call 1-800-444-SEAT. For details call 777-1003.

Grow up, already: No one wrote--or rewrote--more scripts based on the Peter Pan story than J.M. Barrie himself, the gentle mastermind behind the magical tale of everyone's favorite eternal youth. Elements of Barrie's scripts form the foundation for Peter Pan, or the Boy Who Would Not Grow Up, a recent adaptation by John Caird and Trevor Nunn that enjoyed a successful run with the Royal Shakespeare Company. Now the Denver Center Theatre Company brings the updated version to life at the Stage Theatre, 14th and Curtis in the Plex, where it opens tonight at 8 and continues daily, except Mondays, through November 3. Emphasizing the character of Wendy (who--as we know--chooses to grow up) and featuring a fantastic set complete with choreographed swordplay between the Lost Boys and pirates, a cast performing multiple roles and a 29-foot-long crocodile, this Peter Pan provides ample color and entertainment for the whole family. Admission ranges between $25 and $32; for showtimes and reservations call 893-4100.

October 19
Caen and able: The Denver Press Club's third annual Damon Runyon Awards Banquet promises to be a dazzler. This year's gala honors not one, but two admired newspaper columnists: San Francisco Chronicle gossip specialist Herb Caen, an iconic Golden Gate character who virtually wrote the book on his exclusive trade; and Molly Ivins of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, whose no-nonsense column is familiar to readers across the country. Runyon, the feisty journalist and observer of the human condition for whom the award is named, would most certainly approve. Festivities, which take place at the Eulipion Center, 1770 Sherman St., begin with a cocktail reception at 5 and silent auction at 6; a banquet and award ceremony follow at 7. Admission to the entire event is $75 ($50 banquet only). Call 571-5260.

Past perfect: When these fellas muse about the "old ball game," they know what they're talking about. Members of the Colorado Vintage Base Ball Association do everything the old-fashioned way: They dress old, play by the old rules and have a good old time. The base-ballers close out their season today with a doubleheader at the Fort Logan Base Ball Park, Lowell Street and Oxford Avenue. Admission to the pair of matches, which begin at 10 a.m., is free; for information call 973-8362.

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