Film and TV

Denver Film Festival Must-See Picks for November 9 to 11: Industrial Accident and More

An image from Industrial Accident: The Story of Wax Trax! Records.
An image from Industrial Accident: The Story of Wax Trax! Records. Denver Film Festival via Vimeo

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A scene from The Wild Pear Tree.
Denver Film Festival via YouTube
The Wild Pear Tree
Directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan
6:15 p.m. Saturday, November 10, 4 p.m. Sunday, November 11
Sie FilmCenter

This offering from Turkey will give ticket-buyers more movie minutes for their money.

"It's just over three hours long," Withey reveals, "which is pretty normal for this director," Nuri Bilge Ceylan. "His films almost always have that sort of run time. He makes wonderful, epic films."

The protagonist of The Wild Pear Tree "is a young man who has just come home from college to pursue a career in literature," he allows. "He fancies himself the next up-and-coming Turkish author. He wants to write a book, and the film follows him through his village upon his return and the musings he has with the people he encounters."

Here's the trailer for The Wild Pear Tree.

Words are of paramount importance to the fledgling writer, and that comes across on screen, Withey notes. "There are these long shots and uninterrupted stretches of dialogue that are just amazing. The young man will run into an old girlfriend, and there will be something like a ten-minute scene of them standing under a tree in the most beautiful light talking about what they've been doing."

These elements constitute "very simple stuff," he maintains, "but it's fascinating and really engaging. For example, there's a really great scene where the young man is in a book store, and he sees a Turkish author he knows and respects very much. But over the course of the scene, after he approaches him, he sort of picks apart and dissects the author's writings and explains why he's going to be better at doing it than this guy."

Withey is envious of those who'll get a chance to see the film for the first time at the Sie FilmCenter. "It was in competition at Cannes this year, but it was the very last film that played on the last day of the festival, after I left. I later watched it on my somewhat large-screen TV — and I could tell that it will be stunning on the big screen."

His bottom line: "It's the kind of slow burn that I really love."

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A scene from Burning.
Denver Film Festival via YouTube
Directed by Chang-dong Lee
7:30 p.m. Sunday, November 11
Sie FilmCenter

Like The Wild Pear Tree, Withey feels, the Korean film Burning is another cinematic pleasure that is both personal and grand.

In his words, "It's the story of three people. One of the guys is in a flirtatious relationship with a young woman, though he'd very much like for it to be something more. But then she goes on vacation and comes back with a very obvious boyfriend."

The new arrival "is very slick," Withey says. "He's got money, he dresses very nicely, and he has a fancy car. And the three of them start hanging out together. They become a threesome clique."

Here's the Burning trailer.

The original young man is jealous of his rival, Withey concedes, "but he's willing to put up with it so he can still be around this young woman. The three of them spend all their time together, drinking and getting high in this beautiful, boozy, hazy way. It's the summer, and they have no responsibilities."

The young woman subsequently disappears, "and the latter third of the film involves the mystery of where she is — what happened and why," he adds.

The film's structure differs from that of a conventional Hollywood offering, but it's one of the things Withey likes best about Burning. "That just makes it more interesting," he says.

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