The Ten Best Film Festivals In Colorado
The Sheridan Opera House in Telluride functions as one of many screens for the cream of Colorado's film-festival crop.
Surrounding states may be more popular places to film movies, but Colorado has one of the biggest growing film scenes around. Not only do we have the chance to watch great films every day, but there are dozens of festivals in the Denver area and around the state dedicated to film every year — so many that our annual Best of Denver Readers' Poll always includes a Best Film Festival category. These festivals cater to every whim and give film fans a wonderful way to connect with the world cinematically — while still staying in the dark. Here, in alphabetical order, are the ten best film festivals in Colorado in 2016.
10. Aspen Shortsfest
Though Aspen Film also puts on an impressive feature film fest in September, the organization displays an uncanny ability to sort through hundreds of short films, those delectable tiny bites of cinema, and curate a program that is both entertaining and influential. In the past two years, five of the festival’s Best Short winners have gone on to be nominated for Academy Awards. The 25th-anniversary season of the festival hits the idyllic mountain resort town this April, with complete program details leaking in March at aspenfilm.org.
Boulder International Film Festival
9. Boulder International Film Festival
For years, many people wondered why Denver’s sister city needed a film festival of its own, since one expansive and experienced celebration in the area seemed enough to satisfy any hungry movie-goer. But for the past twelve years, Boulder has cultivated an identity for its fest that's just as different from Denver's film festival as the college town itself is from D-town. This year’s program is about to be announced, and the news that The Hateful Eight’s Bruce Dern is being honored by the fest — joining the ranks of past A-list honorees Alec Baldwin, James Franco, Shirley MacLaine and nearly a dozen others — adds a tough and grizzled flourish all its own. Learn more at biff1.com.
Denevr Film Society
In only its second year, the Denver Film Society’s Latino film festival displayed a huge corazon as it focused on one of Colorado’s largest populations. With a robust and varied sampling of cultures — from Mexico, Peru, Spain, Brazil, Argentina and beyond — and an organized, sumptuous selection of films and events, the festival has planted a fun and diverse flag during Hispanic Heritage Month. Last year, CineLatino co-founder Joanna Cintron was named Coors Light Líder of the Year for her work, which gifted the festival a $25,000 grant, guaranteeing that this year’s fiesta will be even more daring and robust. Keep your eyes open for more info this summer at denverfilm.org.
Carly Rose Moser
7. Cinema Q Film Festival
July 21 - 24
Eight years ago, the Denver Film Society’s Cinema Q Film Festival emerged to provide the missing voice of the LGBTQI community in Colorado’s film-festival lineup. Since then, Cinema Q has focused on important issues that once seemed taboo — gay marriage, transgender issues, the AIDS crisis — and made them part of the mainstream conversation. Queer lives, voices and visions have long been the staple of Cinema Q, and as hearts and minds continue to evolve around the world, so do the festival's selections. But the offerings are always diverse, eye-opening, entertaining and, above all, important. For more info, go to denverfilm.org.
Denver Film Society
6. Denver Film Festival
Last November, the Denver Film Society kicked off its 38th Denver Film Festival without Starz as a title sponsor, but still managed to have one of its strongest and smoothest festivals yet. That’s a great start for the 39th edition, with DFS executive director Andrew Rodgers now in charge, fresh from the beloved River Run Film Festival in North Carolina. As long as the DFF's international programming continues to give viewers hundreds of films to chew on and talented guests to savor, whatever Rodgers can bring to the mix will just be delicious gravy. For info on this year’s fest, watch denverfilm.org.
Keep reading for five more of the best film festivals in Colorado.
Get the Arts & Culture Newsletter
Find out about upcoming performances, exhibitions, openings and special events happening in the Denver art and theater scene.