As artistic director of the Denver Film Society, Brit Withey is the man behind the curtain pulling all levers when it comes to bringing innovative, rare and artful film to the Sie FilmCenter for special screenings throughout the year. But at the annual Starz Denver Film Festival, which opens November 6 for a run through November 17 (visit the website for a complete schedule and ticket information), he also gives a face to the DFS as he meets the public and all of the fest's filmmakers and movie glitterati. On the eve of SDFF's opening night, we asked Withey to share his thoughts on the cinema and the local arts scene; Withey's 100CC questionnaire follows.
If you could collaborate with anyone in history, who would it be, and why?
Anyone in history is so daunting that I kept it contemporary: Erroll Morris. He's probably my favorite filmmaker. I just love the topics and people he decides to makes his films about, the manner in which he films them, the music, the use of archival imagery. Each film of his is a wonderfully unfolding detective drama.
Who in the world is interesting to you right now, and why?
For the past few years I've been more and more intrigued by a certain type of documentary filmmaking -- Personal Cinema, for lack of a better term -- such as Gustav Deutsch, who is an Austrian archivist and whose films border on the experimental, but are more accessible than that word implies, and a Spanish filmmaker in this year's festival, Oskar Alegria. Their films are so lyrical, so transcendent, and both pack so much into them that you want to watch them over and over and over and it truly gets better with each viewing. Really amazing work.
What's your day job?
As artistic director of the Denver Film Society, I get to collaborate on all the special events (DocNight, W+F screenings), mini-festivals (J'adore, Women+Film Voices, Cinema Q, Animation), and spend a lot of my time in the programmatic trenches of the Starz Denver Film Festival.
A mystery patron offers you unlimited funds for life. What will you do with it?
I'd love to put together a film festival just once where there were no financial considerations whatsoever. One where I could bring in any film I wanted, any guest I wanted, use as many venues as I wanted. Include a 35mm retrospective of ten Werner Herzog films, introduced by Werner Herzog. Fund a new 'Five Obstructions' project with Terrence Malick and Ramin Bahrani that has its start during the festival. Have the director of every film present to discuss their work. And bigger parties.
Continue reading for more from Brit Withey. What's the one thing Denver (or Colorado) could do to help the arts?
Well, the fact that the SCFD even exists is amazing. What other city has that? Beyond that I think it always comes down to attendance. The Denver of today is so much more dynamic than even five years ago, and there are scores of things to do on any given night, so it's sometimes difficult to draw attention. I think the more and more that organizations partner with other organizations to collaborate, the better off everyone will be.
Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?
Really too many to get into but: Andrew Novick is incomparable, I never get tired of Munly in any format, and I've never seen anything by David Zimmer that I didn't love.
What's on your agenda for the rest of 2013 and beyond?
Working on booking a twenty-film series of newly restored Polish films from the 1960s to the1980s that were hand-picked by Martin Scorsese for digital restoration. Should be amazing and should be here in the spring.
Who do you think will get noticed in Denver's film community this year?
Well, I know there will be new documentaries coming out in the next year by Daniel Junge and Alexandre Philippe, and those are always good bets. There is a young director named Jimmy Weber who has had a couple of really accomplished short horror films in the past few festivals and a feature in this year...I think he'll be interesting to watch. As always, anything that has the milkhaus label on it somewhere is worth tracking down. For all the haps, visit the Starz Denver Film Festival online. And stay tuned to Show and Tell for Brit Withey's daily picks and other fest coverage. See you at the movies! Throughout the year, we'll be shining the spotlight on 100 superstars from Denver's rich creative community. Stay tuned to Show and Tell for more, or visit the 100 Colorado Creatives archive to catch up.
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