Director/film scholar Peter Bogdanovich, actress Debra Winger and Slackers creator Richard Linklater will be among the guests at the 24th Denver International Film Festival. The city's annual cinematic debauch gets under way Thursday at the Buell Theatre with an opening-night showing of Lantana, a tense psychological drama from Australia's Ray Lawrence that entangles a woman's mysterious diappearance with the emotional traumas of four married couples. The fest runs for ten days at the newly refurbished Starz-Encore Film Center at the Tivoli, with a few events at the Continental and Buell theaters.
Bogdanovich, who burst upon the Hollywood scene in 1971 with his Oscar-winning The Last Picture Show, will appear with that classic October 21, and he'll bring along his first new film in eight years, The Cat¹s Meow.
Winger appears October 19 with Big Bad Love, a drama of love and redemption produced by Winger and directed by her offscreen husband, Arliss Howard. Linklater, who gave voice to Generation X through resonant youth films like Dazed and Confused and SubUrbia, will premiere two new works at the festival on October 20: a three-actor ensemble piece called Tape and his live-action-animation exacta Waking Life. Linklater is the winner of this year's John Cassavetes Award, which honors independent filmmaking.
Among the eighty new films in this year's DIFF, which is title-sponsored by Starz-Encore, are Ethan and Joel Coen's noirish The Man Who Wasn¹t There (Monday); a haunting examination of domestic trauma in Argentina, La Cienaga (Sunday); and a new comedy by brothers Jacob and Josh Kornbluth (who will appear October 21) called Haiku Tunnel, which was a huge audience hit at this year's Sundance Film Festival. From France comes Amelie (October 20 and 21), a romantic fable set in Paris, from the director of the cult favorite Delicatessen. This year's "Salute to Latin Cinema" will feature fifteen films by half a dozen Latin Americans and emerging Latino directors in the United States.
Films that have suddenly taken on new dimensions in light of the recent terrorist attacks include Children, Kosovo 2000 (October 20 and 21), introduced by director Ferenc Moldovanyi; a documentary called Friendly Persuasion: Iranian Cinema After the Revolution (Tuesday); and a disturbing feature by a young Israeli, Joseph Cedar, Time of Favor (October 17 and 18), which raises questions about Middle Eastern religion and politics.
As always, non-fiction films are well represented. Ralph Bunche and The Life and Times of Allen Ginsberg will both screen on October 18, and the cultural fringe will take a bow October 19 with a showing of Jessica Villnes's Plaster Caster, a glimpse into the mind of artist Cynthia Plaster Caster, whose chosen art form is casting rock stars' penises in dental alginate. In the Colorado Independentsprogram (October 17) look for Boulder filmmaker Robin Beeck's sympathetic and insightful A Farewell to Arms: The Don Becker Story, which reacquaints us with a promising Denver comedian who, in a fit of depression, severed his arms in a railyard.
Now here's a treat: The legendary documentarian Albert Maysles, who with his late brother David pioneered "direct cinema," will visit the festival with three of his most celebrated works, Gimme Shelter (October 18), Lalee¹s Kin (October 16) and 1975's rarely seen Grey Gardens (October 17), which chronicles the lives of two fallen aristocrats living alone in a ramshackle mansion in East Hampton.
Oh, and don't forget Life as a House (Saturday at the Buell), a poignant comedy about an architect and father facing the future -- and his own mortality. Director Irwin Winkler and stars Kevin Kline, Kristin Scott-Thomas and Mary Steenburgen were all scheduled to appear. Alas, a rescheduled press junket nixed their plans.