Today the Denver Film Society releases the full schedule for the 39th Denver Film Festival, taking place November 2-13 at the Sie FilmCenter, Ellie Caulkins Opera House and the UA Denver Pavilions Stadium. With over 200 titles representing local, national and international independent films — as well as industry panels, workshops, achievement awards, tributes and more than eighty in-person filmmakers — this year is one of the most jam-packed to date.
Last week, DFS announced a hot list of red-carpet fare, including the highly anticipated films Jackie (closing night), Lion (centerpiece), The Edge of Seventeen (red-carpet matinee) and La La Land (opening night). Today it upped the ante by showing off a huge roster of equally impressive titles from around the globe.
“Our 39th Festival program truly has something for everyone—from the delightful dance-filled comedies of Tribute guests Dominique Abel and Fiona Gordon to the diverse slate of works that makes up our country of focus, Spain, from timely and serious documentaries such as Do Not Resist and Jackson to the always curious and creepy Late Night Showcase,” said Brit Withey, Artistic Director.
Find the full schedule at denverfilm.org. Denver Film Society members may purchase tickets starting Tuesday, October 11; tickets go on sale to the general public on Wednesday, October 12.
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As the former programming manager for DFS for ten years, I learned firsthand the trials and tribulations that come with whittling the list of hundreds of potential films down into an exciting, robust basket of goodies. Though the point of a festival like this is to share and celebrate the best of the best, it’s always helpful to start somewhere. I’ve collected a few exciting films and events to look forward to from deep within this impressive cinematic bounty.
True story: Regular DFF guests Nathan Silver and Mike Ott met volunteer Arthur Martinez two years ago in the festival’s filmmaker lounge. Over drinks, they decided to make a film together. The result is this startling, genre-bending investigation into the creative process and the motives behind it. Shot in Denver, the film has impressed festivals the world over and left many wondering what is reality and what isn't.
Told in three separate films, American Epic comes in at the height of the roaring twenties, where music scouts armed with cutting-edge recording technology set out across America to capture the unknown voices of everyday folk. The recordings they made revealed the country’s diversity — artistically, ethnically, geographically and economically speaking. Through the stories of music pioneers, their families and eyewitnesses to the era, we travel back in time to the big bang of modern popular music— to the first time America heard itself and its own music, pure and unadulterated.
Director Doug Nichol’s impassioned and thought-provoking documentary considers the meaningful place that outmoded — but still perfectly functional — machines like typewriters can and should hold in an increasingly digitized, automated and dehumanized world. The film features interviews with Tom Hanks, John Mayer, Sam Shepard and others.
Part of the DFS CinemaQ program, which focuses on the films celebrating and exploring the LGBTQ community, this highly anticipated documentary focuses on three gay African-American teens who in 2009 started a gang to defend themselves from bullying. Today the gang, called Check It, is over 200 members strong. Passionate and clear-eyed, this documentary reveals the fabulous and fierce members of the group as they learn to channel their aggression in a more positive direction.
Granny’s Dancing on the Table
Filmmaker Hanna Sköld combines animation and live action to tell the deeply disturbing, fairytale-like story of young Eini, who lives with her controlling father in the woods, where her only means of escape is concocting a fantasy world in which she tries to make sense of her family’s dark history. Table is one of the films up for the festival’s Krzysztof Kieslowski Award for Best Feature Film.
JonBenet’s Tricycle and Ovarian Psycos
"Tricycle" is a short film from Colorado living legend Andrew Novick in which he explores his penchant for collecting just about everything he can and his decision to do something with perhaps his eeriest acquisition. The short precedes another anticipated entry, Ovarian Psycos, which follows a group of brave women of color from east Los Angeles who form the heart and soul of this powerful documentary about an all-female cycling brigade. The women take back the night, supporting each other as they attempt to heal themselves and their community.
Kiki, Love to Love
Part of the festival’s spirited national focus on Spain, Kiki tells the stories of five couples as they explore their sexual desires and hangups; it's an erotic comedy with the air of early Almodóvar. Director Paco León has created a runaway Spanish hit by examining what it means to be “normal” in society’s eyes.
The Love Witch
Inspired by the sexy occult thrillers of the 1970s, art-filmmaker Anna Biller creates the ultimate homage to campy Technicolor horror while updating it with feminist themes. After the death of her husband, Elaine leaves San Francisco determined to use her black magic to capture the hearts of men.
Rare Pearl Award Tribute to Dominique Abel and Fiona Gordon
If you’ve seen any of the films Abel and Gordon have made together, it shouldn’t be a surprise to learn that they met through their mutual love of the circus — while working as clowns. But if you haven’t seen any of the three films featured in the festival — namely Rumba, The Fairy and their new entry, Lost in Paris — then think of them as heirs to Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy or Jacques Tati. While short on dialogue, their work is full of slapstick and dance, bursting with the most enjoyable and vibrant scenes of any comedies being made today.
Part of both the festival’s CineLatino and late-night showcase, this international fright explores what happens after a tragedy strikes an Argentinian town that leaves fifteen dead. The few residents who do not take part in the last-rites ceremony meet their own fate. In this brutal revision of urban-legend greats, five different stories of lust, bloodshed, corruption and horror collide over the course of one night.