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The Festival of Lights, Camera, Action

The twentieth edition of the Denver International Film Festival gets under way tonight, October 23, with a showing at the Continental Theatre of The Wings of a Dove, Iain Softley's adaptation of the Henry James classic, and closes October 30 with The Ice Storm, novelist Rick Moody's harrowing tale of two families spinning out of control in New Canaan, Connecticut, circa 1973.

Some other hot festival tickets:
Since its completion last year, the controversial 165-minute documentary Waco: The Rules of Engagement has become a focus for many an argument. Director William Gazecki examines the U.S. government's April 1993 raid on the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, through interviews, eye-opening video and the feds' own infrared imagery, challenging the official version of events. With Terry Nichols on trial in Denver for the Oklahoma City bombing, this Waco showing will probably make for an interesting evening--inside and outside the theater. Sunday, 9:30 p.m.

In The Sweet Hereafter, Canadian director Atom Egoyan looks at the tragic effects a snowy school-bus crash has on the parents of the dead children--and on the lawyer (Ian Holm) who offers to represent them in a class-action lawsuit. Winner of the grand prize at Cannes, 1997. Friday, 6:15 p.m.

Aleksandr Sokurov's Mother and Son looks in on a son caring for his dying mother in a remote cabin. "Not everyone's cup of tea," festival director Ron Henderson reports, "but it is a beautiful, poetic film." Wednesday, 6:15 p.m.

The highly original documentarian Errol Morris (The Thin Blue Line, A Brief History of Time) will accept the festival's John Cassavetes Award this year, after a screening of his Fast, Cheap & Out of Control, in which--quirky as ever--he interviews a lion tamer, a robot scientist, a topiary gardener and a scientist who studies mole rats, en route to insights about creativity and the human mind. Friday, 9:30 p.m.

Nick Davis looks ahead to the moment everyone seems to be waiting for, the turn of the millennium, in 1999. It's a social comedy that unfolds at a wild New Year's Eve party in a New York brownstone--complete with, guns, drugs and a darkly comic vision of the future. Friday, 9 p.m.

Zero Kelvin, from the Norwegian director Hans Petter Moland, chronicles a deadly test of wills. At an isolated fur-trapping post in chill Greenland, a young writer must face off against the rough-hewn station master who detests him. Tuesday, 6:15 p.m.

In Bad Manners, Jonathan Kaufer adapts David Gilman's hit play Ghost in the Machine, all about gamesmanship, deception and psychological warfare, as two academic couples make the mistake of spending the weekend together. David Strathairn and Bonnie Bedelia star. Monday, 6:15 p.m.

A part of the festival's "Salute to Australian Cinema," John Hughes's What I Have Written follows the travails of two couples from Down Under (played by the same set of actors) who are vacationing separately in Europe but have mysterious connections. Both relationships are unraveling; the rest is an examination of the gulf between "truth" and "interpretation." Thursday, Oct. 30, 6:45 p.m.

October in Denver is always a good time to catch up with old film favorites and neglected masterworks. The most interesting revival this year could be the re-release of Jean-Luc Godard's Contempt (1964), a bizarre comedy about the movie business in which Jack Palance plays a crude film producer, Fritz Lang a self-parodying director and Brigitte Bardot the star of the film-within-a-film. Palance, winner of the Festival's 1997 Lifetime Achievement Award, will appear in person. Friday, 6:15 p.m.

German director Volker Schlondorff will also visit this year. Look for his take on Gunter Grass's The Tin Drum (1979) (Saturday, 1 p.m.) and his daring update on Arthur Miller's great American drama Death of a Salesman (1985) (Friday, 6:15 p.m.), in which Dustin Hoffman takes on the role of Willy Loman, which was jointly owned for so long by Fredric March and Lee J. Cobb.

Shane is also coming back. George Stevens's classic 1953 Western, with Alan Ladd and the aforementioned Mr. Palance, screens Sunday at 6:45 p.m.

Most films will be shown at the AMC Tivoli Theatres, Ninth Street and Auraria Parkway. Festival hotline: 321-FILM.

--Gallo

 
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