Film and TV

Denver Film Festival Must-See Picks for November 2 to 4: Pity and More

A scene from Pity.
A scene from Pity. Denver Film Festival via Vimeo

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A scene from Behind the Curve.
Denver Film Festival via YouTube
Behind the Curve
Directed by Daniel J. Clark
4:15 p.m. Saturday, November 3, 7 p.m. Sunday, November 4, 4 p.m. Tuesday, November 6
UA Pavilions

Simply put, Behind the Curve, a documentary, "is about people who believe the Earth is flat," Withey points out. "The filmmakers do a really good job of not taking a stand; they don't make their views known. So what's funny about the film is that these people are crazy. The director just points the camera and asks them why they believe what they believe, and how they go about trying to prove it is just nuts."

For Withey, one of the big takeaways from the film was "just how large a community this is. It's large enough that there are factions within the community that argue with one another over who is the leader of the flat Earth community and who has the right method of showing and proving that the Earth is flat."

Here's the trailer for Behind the Curve.

The on-screen players include folks from Denver, which makes sense, since the Flat Earth International Conference 2018 is coming to town.

The second such gathering of its type, the event will take place November 15 and 16 at the Crowne Plaza Denver Airport Convention Center, 15500 East 40th Avenue. Click for more details.

The conversations of the flat-Earth faithful "are really funny," Withey feels. "But they don't just talk and try to explain why this is. They also do a series of tests, setting up lasers some distance apart from one another and then try to explain why they're not lining up right."

The reasons the experiments fail "aren't because the Earth isn't flat," he stresses. "Because they're still sure it is."

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A scene from Cold War.
Denver Film Festival via YouTube
Cold War
Directed by Pawel Pawlikowski
8:45 p.m. Friday, November 2, 1:45 p.m. Sunday, November 4
Sie FilmCenter

Pawel Pawlikowski is the Polish filmmaker "who won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language film three years ago for Ida," Withey says. "Cold War is his latest film, and it's a beautiful black-and-white relationship drama."

The title wasn't chosen at random. "Cold War refers to post-World War II, because it begins in Poland in 1949," he continues. "But it's also a reference to the relationship between the main characters."

At the outset of the film, "the government is putting together this very folksy, back-to-the-country sort of troupe of musicians, singers, dancers and whatnot, to show that the country's youths are pure and vibrant and strong and beautiful, à la the Soviet Union at the time," he notes. "They're out touring the country, and this relationship forms between one of the young, blond girl singer-dancers and the conductor. They fall in love as they're touring, and after they've gotten popular enough to perform in France, they make a plan to escape."

Here's the trailer for Cold War.

Yes, the scheme goes awry, Withey says. "When the time comes, he runs away, and she doesn't meet him. They split up and the troupe returns to Poland."

The pair isn't permanently separated, however. According to Withey, "She shows up at his place in France several years later. He's got a girlfriend, but they get back together anyway, and it's a really fraught relationship. They fight and break up again, and she goes back to Poland. But he can't take it living without her."

Problem is, "He's wanted in Poland, and if he goes back, he's told they'll arrest him," Withey recounts. "He goes back anyway and is arrested and put in prison, but she goes to visit him there. And it just keeps going back and forth, back and forth.

The result is "a very tough love story," Withey contends. "But a lot of the love stories that are most interesting are the toughest ones. These two characters cannot live with one another, but they love each other. It's the driving force in both of their lives, and it drives them to ruin."

Click to access all of the film festival's selections and to purchase tickets.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts