#44: Britta Erickson
Britta Erickson, a Denver native who's the director of the Starz Denver Film Festival, not only builds the fest from the ground up behind the scenes but also serves as its public face. Popular Denver Film Society side projects such as Film on the Rocks and the Stanley Film Festival also bloom under her watch; in her spare time -- if you can believe she has any -- she's also a film producer who often works with local talent like documentarian Daniel Junge. That's a lot for one woman to carry on her shoulders every year, but Erickson does it with charm and business aplomb, and clearly loves every minute of her work. Learn more via her 100 Colorado Creatives questionnaire, which follows.
Westword: If you could collaborate with anyone in history, who would it be, and why?
Britta Erickson: Wow. A singular person? So many creative dream-teams pop to mind, but I guess if I had to choose one person, it would be Jean-Michel Basquiat. His radiant life was obviously cut way too short. It would have been interesting to see his artistic genius at work in film or video art. I would have produced any idea he had.
Who in the world is interesting to you right now, and why?
That guy who left the Broncos game at halftime and walked to Pueblo. There is definitely a film in that story.
And Mark Mothersbaugh -- the Myopia exhibit at the MCA really stirred my imagination. What's one art trend you want to see die this year?
I never want to see art die. But a fashion trend I could do without: Birkenstocks.
What's your day job?
As festival director of the Denver Film Society, I wear many hats, from administrative to programmatic, and get to work with an extremely talented and passionate group of people. From our daily programming at the Sie FilmCenter to the Stanley Film Festival to Film on the Rocks...it is never boring. And especially this time of year -- we're racing toward opening night and the ensuing eleven days of the Starz Denver Film Festival, the region's largest cinematic celebration.
A mystery patron offers you unlimited funds for life. What will you do with it?
I'd endow the future of the Denver Film Society and establish a film fund for local production. I'd also give everyone on my team a well-deserved raise. Oh, and upgrade our office chairs to something a bit more comfortable than the $19 IKEA variety we're working with. There is only so much suffering people must do for their art. What's the one thing Denver (or Colorado) could do to help the arts?
I think Denver is an amazingly supportive arts town. The future re-authorization of the SCFD is critical, which is why it is important for cultural organizations to constantly be shouting to the rafters and reminding constituents as to why the SCFD matters. And it is also critical that the Colorado film incentives program continue on. The bill was finally passed in 2012 after eight long years of the film community pushing for tax credits to attract more film production within the state. The Colorado Office of Film, Television and Media was able to land the highly anticipated production of Quentin Tarantino's next film, The Hateful Eight, because the incentive was competitive (and I'm sure the beauty of Telluride, where the film will be shot beginning this December, didn't hurt).
Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?
Oh, there are so, so, so very many Colorado Creatives and arts organizations that inspire me. In the documentary filmmaking community alone, I could not narrow it down to one -- we have some very talented people working here, including Davis Coombe and the whole Milkhaus crew, Mitch Dickman, Paula duPre Pesman, Alexandre Philippe and Daniel Junge, who is our 2014 Starz Denver Film Festival inductee into the Colorado Film Hall of Fame.
What's on your agenda in the coming year?
Some post-fest sleep would be nice. And I'm a producer on a documentary titled Rolling Papers with a talented crew of Denver-based filmmakers. We've been on the ground with Denver Post marijuana editor Ricardo Baca and his team of reporters from The Cannabist since January 1, 2014. It truly captures what has unfolded here since legalization and how a major media outlet has so quickly adapted. We're wrapping up production now and hope to premiere it in 2015.
Who do you think will get noticed in the local film community in 2014 and beyond?
Another tough one to answer, but I'm really excited about what Laura Goldhamer will do next. She directed "Amsterdam" for Gregory Alan Isakov (whose music I love), which is a part of our the new(ish) Music Video Mixtape section of the festival. It's amazing to be able to share the often seldom-seen work of these directors with our audience. She's also lending her animation talents to Rolling Papers.
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The 37th annual Starz Denver Film Festival opens Wednesday, November 12, with a red carpet screening of 5 to 7 at 8 p.m. at the Buell Theatre. Programming, which includes a diverse schedule of screenings, workshops, panels and parties, continues through November 23 at the Buell, the UA Denver Pavilions Stadium 15 and the Sie FilmCenter. Find a complete schedule and ticket information online.
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