Denver Film Society programming manager Ernie Quiroz has been on the job for a year now. In that time, he's learned that Denver film audiences are nothing if not surprising. "There's some films that I did that I thought would go over great, and just utterly bombed," he says. "And then some that I thought, 'Okay, this might work,' that just ended up blowing away my expectations. You just never know what's going to hit and what's going to happen."
Even topics that seem like a can't-miss sometimes miss ... badly.
"A couple of months ago we had a documentary called Evergreen, about marijuana legalization in Washington state," he continues. "I thought for sure that would be, maybe not a huge hit, but that people would want to see it. Nope. No one. It was utterly disastrous."
Of course, it isn't all doom and gloom -- some of Quiroz's programming decisions have paid off better than he could have ever hoped.
"We did the Internet Cat Festival and had three screenings with well over a hundred people per screening," he says. "We were just kind of looking at each other, like, 'These are cat videos from the Internet...' People came out in droves. I was like, 'I officially give up.' But it's fun."
A year into his tenure, it's safe to say that Quiroz has made his mark on the DFS, implementing programs like Films on Tap, which turns popular films into drinking games, and the National Theatre Company Live, which brings stage productions from London's National Theater to movie screens. His next move is to bring a program of film from Latin America and Spain called CineLatino, which starts later this month.
"There's so many great films from Latin America and so many great Mexican filmmakers, and this is just a way to highlight great films," he says. "Latin America doesn't always get a fair shake."
More immediately, he's programmed a special screening of Terrence Malick's Tree of Life this Friday, September 5, to celebrate his first year on the job.
"It's sort of me throwing myself a little party," he says. "It's one of my favorite films of the last couple of years, and I'd love to see it on the big screen again."
See Tree of Life at 9:30 p.m. Friday, September 5 at the Sie FilmCenter. Tickets are $10, or $7 for DFS members. For more information and tickets, visit the Tree of Life event page on the DFS website.
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