Denver Film Festival Announces First Wave of Programming and Early-Bird Discounts

Tom Hiddleston takes on Hank Williams in I Saw The LIght, playing at this year's Denver Film Festival.
Tom Hiddleston takes on Hank Williams in I Saw The LIght, playing at this year's Denver Film Festival.
Sony Pictures Classics

Film-goers, grab your boards: The 38th Denver Film Festival, produced by the Denver Film Society, has announced the first wave of programming for this year's event, which runs from November 4 through November 15 with the tagline "Come sit and be swept away."

The festival has never announced this much programming in advance of the unveiling of its full schedule, which will occur next Monday, October 19, but this reveal comes with news of the DFF’s specialized cultural focus. This year's emphasis will be on films from Poland, with five other specialized sidebars, including CineLatino, Women + Film, Cinema Q, Late Night, Music Spotlight and Shorts Packages. "In keeping with our long and rich tradition of presenting the best in Eastern European cinema, we at the Denver Film Festival are proud to announce that this year's Focus on a National Cinema program will shine the spotlight on Poland. Numerous Polish directors and producers will be in attendance during the course of the festival to present their acclaimed work to us," says artistic director Brit Withey. "Traditional festival sidebars once again highlight the strong diversity of the Denver program and prove, as always, there is something for everyone in our lineup."

While you ponder the possibilities, don't hesitate to buy tickets: There are early-bird deals with special packages available at a discount until October 18. The DFF 6-Pack includes six tickets for the low price of $57 DFS member/$75 non-member (that's $9.50 per ticket/$12.50 per ticket, respectively). Once the full schedule is announced, individual tickets will cost $12 DFS member/$15 non-member. Although the films for them have not yet been announced, Red Carpet Packages are now on sale for $60 DFS member/$75 non-member — a $45 savings over purchasing individual tickets. The package includes one ticket to each Red Carpet presentation (November 4, 6, 15). All packages are available for purchase at Denverfilm.org or at the box office at the Sie FilmCenter, 2510 East Colfax Avenue, the main screening venue for the festival this year.

Here's a first look at just some of many titles coming to the Denver Film Festival (the descriptions are from DFS); additional films, details, trailers and more will be available on Monday, October 19, at denverfilm.org:

Nude Area.
Nude Area.
Topkapi Films

FOCUS ON NATIONAL CINEMA: POLAND

Body (Cialo) / Poland (Malgorzata Szumowska): A widowed, hard-drinking prosecutor who is inured to the worst kinds of human misery finds himself helpless in the face of his bulimic daughter's accelerating decline. In this dark comedy, father and child are ultimately thrown together with their only hope: a counselor whose best suggestion is a séance.

Call Me Marianna (Mow mi marianna) / Poland (Karolina Bielawska): Having negotiated cumbersome legal, medical and family issues, Marianna finally realizes her dream of pursuing gender-reassignment surgery. But on the other side of her operation, life holds surprises that would daunt anyone of any gender. This timely documentary follows her as she finds the resilience to face them.

Demon / Poland, Israel (Marcin Wrona): This atmospheric ghost story with an undercurrent of absurdist humor tells of a bridegroom who covers up skeletal remains that he finds at his future father-in-law's country home. Inadvertently, he draws the soul of the dead woman to his wedding reception, where she takes possession of him.

Gods (Bogowie) / Poland (Lukasz Palkowski): Lukasz Palkowski directs this award-winning biopic about Zbigniew Religa, the first cardiac surgeon to perform a successful heart transplant in communist Poland in the 1980s. Relig challenged the morals of the medical world tirelessly, overcoming medical odds and cultural taboos. With fast-paced wit and even humor, Gods captures history captivatingly.

Karbala / Poland (Krzysztof Lukaszewicz) - Filmed on location in the Middle East, writer-director Krzysztof Lukaszewicz tells the true story of how an eighty-man-strong Polish-Bulgarian unit defended Karbala's City Hall against Al-Qaeda. Running out of ammunition and faced with impossible choices, this film puts a non-American human face on this historic conflict.

Nude Area / Poland, Netherlands (Urszula Antoniak): Two teenage girls from different walks of life explore their own awakening sensuality in a love story that's structured as a visually stunning series of soundscapes, unfolding entirely without dialogue to consider the thin lines between tenderness and cruelty, longing and fulfillment, ecstasy and disappointment.

Polish Silent Film Program / Poland: Acclaimed Polish composer Marcin Pukaluk will present two Polish silent films, The Strong Man (1929) and The Polish Dancer (1917) with a live in-theater musical performance.

These Daughters of Mine (Moje córki krowy) / Poland (Kinga Debska): Playing on both the hilarity and drama of family dysfunction, this story tells of a middle-aged woman who must come to terms with her emotionally volatile sister around a parent's illness. Set for commercial release in Poland in 2016, the film features top actors from that country's cinema.

The Touch of an Angel / Germany, Poland (Marek Tomasz Pawlowski): This intensely personal Holocaust documentary uses manipulated archival photos and staged reenactments to lend a poetic atmosphere to narrator Henryk Schonker's account of his boyhood experiences in Auschwitz. Visually and metaphorically, the scattered images reconstruct both the horror of the time and a community's vain hopes for escape.

Embrace of fhe Serpent.
Embrace of fhe Serpent.
Oscilloscope Pictures

CINELATINO

600 Miles (600 millas) / Mexico (Gabriel Ripstein): In this bilingual feature, a young Mexican arms trafficker for a drug cartel is under surveillance by ATF agent Hank Harris (Tim Roth). Harris is kidnapped by the young man and taken from Arizona to Mexico after a chance encounter. During the long journey, the pair form an unlikely friendship while destruction looms over both of their heads.

The Club (El club) / Chile (Pablo Larraín): The uneasy peace that four disgraced priests have found after being banished to a remote Chilean village is disrupted when a new exile arrives-one of whose victims shows up to torment him. Acclaimed filmmaker Pablo Larraín co-wrote and directed this taut fable about the social costs of organized religion.

El Cinco (El 5 de talleres) / Argentina, Uruguay, Germany, France, Netherlands (Adrián Biniez): In this smart look at midlife romance, the hot-tempered Patón is on his last legs as a Buenos Aires soccer pro. After a turn to boozing and a stint in jail, he realizes he needs a different path. But how long will his steadfeast wife, Ale, remain by his side?

Embrace of The Serpent (El abrazo de la serpiente) / Colombia, Venezuela, Argentina (Ciro Guerra): Two Westerners who journey into the Amazon seeking a medicinal plant are guided in their quests by a shaman whose tribe has been wiped out by the white man. A winner at Cannes this year, acclaimed Colombian filmmaker Ciro Guerra's black-and-white epic mesmerizes while delivering a devastating critique of colonialism.

Lucifer / Mexico/Belgium (Gust Van den Berghe): On his fall from heaven, Lucifer makes a pit stop in rural Mexico — and naturally, all hell breaks loose in his wake. Belgian filmmaker Gus Van den Berghe used a groundbreaking device called Tondoscope to present this existential allegory of paradise lost as an enclosed circle onscreen.

The Mud Woman (La mujer de barro) / Chile (Sergio Castro San Martín): María must leave her young daughter Teresa to return to work as a grape picker in arid northern Chile, where she is soon faced with her worst fear: a menacing supervisor from her past, Raúl. Pushed to the breaking point, María takes action in this intense drama.

Parabellum / Argentina, Austria, Uruguay (Lukas Valenta Rinner): Chubby, middle-aged office workers undertake survivalist training in this quirky dark comedy that amuses and disturbs by turns. Ultimately, it morphs into a story about how far people will go and what they will do to stay alive and protect what's theirs-when the apocalypse arrives for real.

Sworn Virgin.
Sworn Virgin.
Strand Releasing

CINEMAQ

An Act of Love / USA (Scott Sheppard): In 2013, United Methodist minister Frank Schaefer was defrocked for officiating at his son's same-sex wedding. Suddenly, the Reverend found himself an accidental LGBTQ activist. Considering all sides of the debate, this powerful documentary shows how the groundwork for a 2016 showdown that may transform American Christianity is being laid.

Call Me Marianna (Mow mi marianna) / Poland (Karolina Bielawska): Having negotiated cumbersome legal, medical and family issues, Marianna finally realizes her dream of pursuing gender-reassignment surgery. But on the other side of her operation, life holds surprises that would daunt anyone of any gender. This timely documentary follows her as she finds the resilience to face them.

Nude Area / Poland, Netherlands (Urszula Antoniak): Two teenage girls from different walks of life explore their own awakening sensuality in a love story that's structured as a visually stunning series of soundscapes, unfolding entirely without dialogue to consider the thin lines between tenderness and cruelty, longing and fulfillment, ecstasy and disappointment.

Sworn Virgin / Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Albania, Kosovo, France (Laura Bispuri): In this soulful meditation on gender and identity, Hana has long abided by the vow of chastity she made in order to escape wedlock and live as a man in rural Albania, per local tradition. But when she visits her sister in Italy, a whole new world opens up.

Camino.
Camino.
XLrator Media

LATE NIGHT

Aaaaaaaah! / UK (Steve Oram): Humans live like wild apes in the midst of a present-day London neighborhood — grunting, fornicating and fighting to kill — in this exuberantly low-budget mash-up of horror, comedy, cult sci-fi, and commentary on social devolution from co-star, screenwriter and first-time director Steve Oram.

Camino / USA (Josh C. Waller): Longtime Quentin Tarantino collaborator Zoë Bell stars as a photo journalist trapped in the Colombian jungle after documenting a shocking act by a quasi-religious leader. Cult director Nacho Vigalondo also shines as the corrupt leader hunting Bell through the unforgiving wilderness.

Crumbs / Ethiopia/Spain/Finland (Miguel Llansó): Candy resides with his sweetheart in a bowling alley in post-apocalyptic Ethiopia, collecting the remnants of a decayed civilization. When a long-inactive spaceship on the horizon shows new signs of life, he must confront witches, Nazis and Santa Claus to discover a new reality in this surreal sci-fi comedy.

Decay / USA (Joseph Wartnerchaney): Local filmmaker Joseph Wartnerchaney presents a thriller based on actual events. Jonathan, whose abusive childhood has left him barely functioning with crippling OCD, returns home to find a beautiful young woman dead in his basement. He's pleased to have a companion, but the relationship falters when she begins to decay.

Demon / Poland, Israel (Marcin Wrona): This atmospheric ghost story with an undercurrent of absurdist humor tells of a bridegroom who covers up skeletal remains that he finds at his future father-in-law's country home. Inadvertently, he draws the soul of the dead woman to his wedding reception, where she takes possession of him.

Der Bunker / Germany (Nikias Chryssos): In this ode to cult cinema à la John Waters and David Lynch, a young man rents a room from a family with an ostensibly eight-year-old son, Klaus, whose schooling he takes over at the behest an alien living in the matriarch's leg. An offbeat sendup of helicopter parenting.

Emelie / USA (Michael Thelin): When the regular babysitter can't make it, the Thompsons reach out to her friend, Anna. At first Anna seems like a fun, carefree sitter. But as her actions turn from the odd to the bizarre, the Thompson children soon realize they are in for a horrific evening, and Anna is not who she seems.

Friday the 13th / USA (Sean S. Cunningham):  A special 35th-anniversary screening of Friday on Friday the 13th. Revisit the place where one of the most successful horror franchises of all time began: at Camp Crystal Lake.

Love / France (Gaspar Noé): Murphy wakes up on the first of the year to a voice-mail message from the worried mother of a former lover, Electra. Feeling imprisoned by his young wife and small child, he spends the day reminiscing about the extremely passionate, erotic and chaotic relationship he had with Electra.

Ludo / India (Q, Nikon): Four horny but innocent teenagers in search of privacy break into a shopping mall after hours. Unfortunately, they're not alone, and the old woman who invites them to play dice has something other than fun and games in store for them in this supernatural horror flick from the acclaimed director of Gandu (DFF34).

The World of Kanako (Kawaki) / Japan (Tetsuya Nakashima): In this fast-paced thriller, disgraced former cop and estranged father Akikazu Fujishima searches for his missing seventeen-year-old daughter, who may be wrapped up in trouble beyond anyone's grasp. The visceral and violent Japanese film, adapted from the Akio Fukamachi novel by Hateshinaki Kawaki, demands attention and does not let go.

The Theory of Obscurity: A Film About the Residents.
The Theory of Obscurity: A Film About the Residents.
KTF Films

MUSIC SPOTLIGHT

The American Letters (Americké dopisy) / Czech Republic (Jaroslav Brabec): This biopic about Czech composer Antonín Dvorák concentrates on a pivotal moment late in his life. At the height of his career, working in New York City, he learns his secret love and lifelong muse is ill. He must return home and decide whether to upend his family life and declare himself for her.

Breaking a Monster / USA (Luke Meyer): Three African-American preteens get an uneasy taste of fame after Unlocking the Truth, their heavy-metal band, lands a major record deal. This real-life coming-of-age tale follows the trio as they juggle middle-school angst with the premature pressures of adulthood.

I Saw the Light / USA (Marc Abraham):  Named for one of his signature tunes, this biopic of legendary country-music artist Hank Williams paints a picture of how his drinking and marital woes shaped his tragically short life. The film plays his meteoric rise to fame against the darkness that would eventually bring him down.

Memories of Duke / USA (Gary Keys): A music-filled tribute to the legendary composer, bandleader and pianist Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington by late filmmaker (and longtime festival guest) Gary Keys; shot on one of his last tours, it lets Ellington's genius speak for itself while incorporating interviews with two esteemed colleagues, trumpeter Cootie Williams and reedman Russell Procope.

Music Video Mixtape: A selection of the top music videos of the past year from around the world.

Music Video Mixtape-Local: New this year to the festival, a local edition of the Music Video Mixtape, highlIghting all of the incredible music- and video-makers Colorado has to offer.

Polish Silent Film Program / Poland: Acclaimed Polish composer Marcin Pukaluk will present two Polish silent films, The Strong Man (1929) and The Polish Dancer (1917) with a live in-theater musical performance.

Theory of Obscurity: A film about The Residents / USA (Don Hardy): This intriguing documentary focuses on the anonymous, avant-garde rock band known as The Residents, examining the group's creative output (music, films, and artwork) over four decades, since its founding in the 1970s. Testimonials by Matt Groening, Penn Jillette and other famous fans balance a flurry of pop-culture homages and parodies.

India's Daughter.
India's Daughter.
Leslee Udwin

WOMEN+FILM

FRAME BY FRAME / Afghanistan (Mo Scarpelli, Alexandria Bombach): During the Taliban's five-year reign in Afghanistan, taking photographs was a crime. This gripping documentary follows four photojournalists as they "re-frame" the historical narrative of their homeland by establishing a free press. A combination of cinema vérité, interviews, and archival footage yields a collective profile in courage.

India's Daughter / UK (Leslee Udwin): Banned in India, Leslee Udwin's award-winning documentary about the brutal 2012 gang rape and murder of Jyoti Singh on a Delhi bus-which includes interviews with the perpetrators-reveals how a patriarchal society's rampant misogyny could lead to a crime so heinous that it sparked a nationwide uprising for change.

Mustang / Turkey, France, Germany, Qatar (Deniz Gamze Ergüven): Five young sisters in a coastal Turkish village are placed on tyrannical house arrest by their grandmother after being suspected of lewd behaviour with boys. France's official Oscar submission for the year shows that nothing can stop a girl's transition into womanhood.

Radical Grace / USA (Rebecca Parrish): Agree with the Catholic Church or not, these ladies are not your grandmother's nuns. The nuns in this hilarious and inspiring documentary embark to fight for the common good, while their male counterparts try to destroy their mission and faith for their so called "radical feminism." Bridge the gap between religion and humanity with these progressive women.

Sailing a Sinking Sea / USA (Olivia Wyatt):  Olivia Wyatt's mesmerizing and visually stunning documentary takes an insider's look at the Moken, a group of seafaring nomads hopping the islands between Burma and Thailand. As they go about their daily lives, a sense of their history, folklore, musical culture, and lifestyle as foragers and spearfishers develops against a dreamy waterscape.

She's The Best Thing In It / USA (Ron Nyswaner): Mary Louise Wilson waited over forty years to win a Tony award. As a character actor nearing 80, she begins teaching acting classes at Tulane University for the first time in her life. This engaging documenary gets a behind the scenes look on the life of many character actresses as well as the students she teaches.

Songs My Brothers Taught Me / USA (Chloé Zhao): Set against the beautiful backdrop of South Dakota's Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, this meditative drama follows a teenaged brother and sister as they summon the strength and grace to face upheavals in their family life and work through ambivalence about how and where to make a life for themselves.

Tired Moonlight / USA (Britni West): Britni West wrote, directed, produced, and edited her acclaimed narrative debut, which rests on an innovative combination of seeming and dreamscape. Tired Moonlight sets overlapping story lines about people trying to make their lives work, if only for a short time, against a stunning Montana backdrop.

A Woman Like Me / USA (Alex Sichel, Elizabeth Giamatti): Through a heartbreaking yet playfully inspiring combination of documentary and fiction, writer/director Alex Sichel simultaneously chronicles her treatment for terminal cancer, her filmmaking process, and her approach to life and death, exploring both what might have been and what will surely be (with the ever-watchable Lili Taylor as her double).

Yosemite / USA (Gabrielle Demeestere): Three interconnected stories by co-star James Franco form the basis for this engaging tale of three boys in suburban California circa 1985. As the world changes around them and the end of innocence nears, each must find a way to make sense of his experiences and connections to others.

Use Current Location

Related Location

miles
Sie FilmCenter

Sponsor Content

Newsletters

All-access pass to the top stories, events and offers around town.

  • Top Stories
    Send:

Newsletters

All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >