It's that time again -- the Starz Denver Film Fest is here, bringing joy for the cinephile girls and boys. With almost 200 films in every genre, from all over the world, there's a lot to take in. To help navigate the schedule, we asked festival programmer Matt Campbell to steer us toward some of the smaller, less obvious films and events on the festival schedule -- the films that may be under the radar, but are no less impressive for it. Here are Campbell's picks and descriptions, in chronological order.
Go Down Death "Go Down Death is a bizarre little film all shot on Super 16mm black and white. It has a very David Lynch, old-school Guy Maddin feel to it. It's this guy, a first-time filmmaker, who had a surgery at NYU hospital, and when he was coming out of it he had a morphine-induced fever dream and this film is a result of that. It's really bizarre. It's kind of like a bunch of vignettes of this no-name town and the weird characters who inhabit it. It's been compared to a screenplay written by William Faulkner and shot by David Lynch. That's the best way to describe it. It's definitely off the beaten path, but I really, really enjoyed it."
Borgman "We're doing a focus on international cinema, like we do every year, and this year it's Netherlands, so we have a lot of really cool Dutch cinema. Probably the highlight of that is a film called Borgman, which is this bizarre film that got picked up by Drafthouse FIlms. It's really cool. Borgman, the title character, is this other-worldly figure who's really like a criminal, but you don't really know. He's something more than that. He has sort of a gang of criminals that initially are hiding in the forest, underneath the ground. Some townsfolk and a priest come to chase them away and they basically invade a suburban family's home. They don't exactly take it over, but slip in and sort of manipulate them into letting them coexist, then bad things happen as a result."
The Fifth Season "The best thing I saw at South by Southwest is this Belgian film called The Fifth Season and it's very moody and paganesque. It has hints of the old-school Wicker Man -- not the bad Nic Cage movie, but the original -- where this town has this ceremony to kick out old man winter. They try to light up a bonfire of three stories tall worth of Christmas trees, but no matter what they do, it won't light on fire, signifying winter won't leave. It takes place over the course of the next year, going through each season, but winter never leaves. Spring never comes. Crops don't grow. Bees stop pollinating. The townsfolk basically views outside immigrants -- this guy living in a little RV with his handicapped son -- as their scapegoat. They're like, "Bad things didn't start happening until you got here, this is all your fault" and they turn on him. Not to give away the ending, but then it goes down that Wicker Man path with the effigies and weird geek masks and all that stuff. It's a really cool film."
Shows at 7 p.m. Saturday, November 9 and 9:15 p.m. Sunday, November 10 at the UA Pavilions. Tickets are $13, or $11 for DFS members. More info at the film's SDFF page.
Music Video Mixtape Vol. 1 "A cool thing that we're doing this year, brand-new to the festival, is a music video showcase. We got a lot of really cool music videos from local artists, from international acts, indie acts from around the country, and a couple of bigger name label acts like MGMT or Nine Inch Nails. It's a really cool showcase, and I think it will be fun for people to see music videos on the big screen, with great sound and hi-def, not just watching them off YouTube. It's a really good, eclectic mix."
"Doomsdays is the best indie comedy that I've seen all year. It's better than anything I saw at Sundance, better than anything I saw at South by Southwest. It's a really great, hilarious film. It has Leo Fitzpatrick in it, who first became famous from his role as Telly in Kids. It has Justin Rice in it, who has definitely been in a lot of indie films, like Harmony and Me. We're going to have part of the cast and the director come out for the screening, and throw a party with the Reel Social Club at the Parkside Mansion, a few blocks away from the Sie FilmCenter. The ticket gets you into the film and the party afterward.
"The film is basically about these hipster dudes that are treating the world as a pre-apocalyptic state where they're just going around the Catskills breaking into rich people's vacation homes, living off their food and booze. They just kind of house hop from one to the next and pick up some weird, ostracized folks along the way. It's really funny and smart comedy and I'm really excited about it."
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Show at 9:15 p.m. Friday, November 15 with party to follow. $25 Reel Social Club members, $35 non-members. See the film only at 4 p.m. Saturday, November 16 at the UA Pavilions. Tickets are $13, or $11 for DFS members. More info at the film's SDFF page.