The Ten Best Film Events in February

The outdoor digital video installation Side Stories is coming to RiNo in February.
The outdoor digital video installation Side Stories is coming to RiNo in February.
Studio Hippo
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Sure, go make Black Panther the blockbuster it was meant to be and catch up on your Oscar nominees this February. There's no shame in that. But you won’t find many offbeat film-going experiences at the multiplex. For those, you have to hit the film festivals, art houses and holes in the wall to see anything truly quirky, experimental or bizarre beyond belief. Ditto for thoughtful and beautifully filmed and casted foreign, retro and indie films. Here are a few hot spots to hit this month.

Scream Screen Dark Night of the Scarecrow

Scream Screen Presents "As Seen on TV!”
Sie FilmCenter, 2510 East Colfax Avenue
Fridays, February 2 through 23, 9:30 p.m.

$7 to $11.50
Theresa Mercado’s Scream Screen horror-film series at the Sie takes the cinematic scares down to the lowest common denominator — television — in February, for "AS SEEN on TV!,” a curated selection of made-for-TV screamers. The series begins on February 2 with Dark Night of the Scarecrow, a 1981 boob-tube tale of small-town revenge, starring Larry Drake and Charles Durning; screenings continue on Fridays with Bad Ronald (February 9), Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (February 16) and a super-secret film-to-be-announced rounding things out on February 23. Expect a who’s-who of famous and forgotten TV character actors and a whole lot of fun.

International Film Series: 19th Annual Animation Show of Shows
Muenzinger Auditorium, University of Colorado Boulder
Tuesday, February 6, and Wednesday, February 7, 7:30 p.m.
$7 to $8, ten films with $50 punch card

Animation champion Ron Diamond of Acme Filmworks has crafted yet another loving round of excellent and thought-provoking films that defy the flippant “cartoons” moniker. Curated to show the wide scope of modern animation, mixing experimental works, masterpieces of storytelling, purely visual/musical mashups, humorous observations and stop-motion gems, the Animation Show of Shows offers an evening’s worth of unadulterated entertainment at CU Boulder’s International Film Series.

Denver Jewish Film Festival
February 7 through 19
Mizel Arts & Culture Center
Staenberg-Loup Jewish Community Center, 350 South Dahlia Street
$11 to $13 individual screenings, $50 VIP opening night, $255 festival pass, $100 ten-pack

The Denver Jewish Film Festival is nothing to sniff at: Two weeks of solid screenings, comprising 38 films from seventeen countries, the fest heads into its 22nd year touting a spectrum of Jewish perspectives. The festival opens on February 7 with a screening of the post-WWII drama Bye Bye Germany; after that, you’ll get a mixed bag of films with Judaic themes, from bio-docs of Sammy Davis Jr., Hedy Lamar and David Ben-Gurion to the unexpected Shalom Bollywood, which explores the Indian Jewish community through the Bollywood film universe.

Neal Cassady Birthday Bash: Magic Trip and "Pull My Daisy," With Jami Cassady and David Amram
Alamo Drafthouse Cinema Sloan's Lake, 4255 West Colfax Avenue
Saturday, February 10, 7:15 p.m.

Denver’s big 2018 Neal Cassady Birthday Bash goes down on the evening of February 9 at the Mercury Cafe, as always, with special guests, music and readings. But the next day, there’s an addendum: Catch up on your Beat and Merry Prankster lore with screenings of Magic Trip, a 2011 feature-length documentary that follows Cassady, Ken Kesey and the rest of the Prankster crew cross-country in the wildly decorated hippie bus Further. The film makes ample use of 16mm color footage taken by the bus-mates during their 1964 adventure. And for the sake of historical context, the 1959 Kerouac-penned short, "Pull My Daisy," which features a cast of Beat icons living the Beat lifestyle, will also be screened. Stick around afterward for a discussion with Cassady’s daughter Jami and jazz musician David Amram, who composed the score for "Pull My Daisy."

The Tragedies of David Lean
Sie FilmCenter, 2510 East Colfax Avenue
All films at 6:30 p.m.
February 14: Brief Encounter
February 21: The Bridge on the River Kwai
February 28: Lawrence of Arabia
$12 members, $15 non-members

Director David Lean defined the age of the grand Technicolor movie as a medium tailor-made for the last of the great movie houses. Enhanced by Lean’s keen understanding of how to insinuate innovations in cinematography and editing techniques into a work of visual storytelling, films like Bridge on the River Kwai and Lawrence of Arabia swept viewers into the story. But as Adam Graves and Sean Morris of Metropolitan State University of Denver’s Denver Project for Humanistic Inquiry (D-phi) note in this three-film series, some of those stories share tragic denouements. In collaboration with the Sie FilmCenter, the two MSU Denver philosophy professors will put three of Lean’s most calamitous films into moral and aesthetic perspective at screenings of the more intimate tale of unfulfilled romance, Brief Encounter, as well as the epic screen-eaters Kwai and Lawrence.

Everything Is Terrible! The Great Satan
Sie FilmCenter, 2510 East Colfax Avenue
Friday, February 16, 7 to 9 p.m.
$12 members, $15 non-members

To call Everything Is Terrible! a shtick is a cowardly kiss off, because if there’s one thing you CAN call it, it’s wildly original and indicative of a rare talent for mixing found footage in weird and wonderful ways. But it doesn’t even stop there. Along with the hundreds of cross-cut clips it takes to stitch together an hour-and-some minutes of pure cinematic lunacy on a theme, EIT! also injects its screenings with a live component of puppets and costumed hosts, who promise “your journey will brim with evangelical ducks, goopy ghouls, and sad white men who believe that Dungeons & Dragons summon actual horned demons.” As intimated, this time around the theme is the Great Satan, so who knows what madness will rise out of the shadows? Oh, and don’t forget to bring your VHS tapes of Jerry Maguire to add to EIT!’s growing collection of 15,000 Maguire videocassettes.

The Ten Best Film Events in February (4)
Razorbill Productions

My Bloody Violent-Tine Film Festival 2018
Bug Theatre, 3654 Navajo Street
Sunday, February 18, 5 to 11:30 p.m.
$10, $15 couples, $30 VIP

It’s not really reaching too far to equate February’s hearts and flowers with slimy hearts and bloody showers, and that’s what the annual My Bloody Violent-tine Film Festival is all about — blood and guts and gore, with a Colorado twist. A Colorado-made horror-film spectacle hosted by fest founder George Climer, the evening consists of a Screens With Screams film showcase and the Fright Masters award ceremony, which includes prizes in five categories and peoples’-choice awards. Think your horror flick has what it takes to win a prize? Film submissions will be accepted online at Razorbill Productions through February 15.

The Ten Best Film Events in February (2)
Gary Emrich

Side Stories // RiNo
Broadway to 36th Street, between Blake and Larimer streets
February 21 through March 2

Something different will take over RiNo streets for ten days, beginning February 21: Side Stories // RiNo, an outdoor film installation of ten digital video works by Colorado artists, screened each evening of the run on neighborhood walls along busy Blake and Larimer streets. Traverse the installation at your leisure, with help from an interactive map and audio tour you can download soon at the Side Stories website, where you’ll also find historical tidbits about the area and a list of great places to eat, drink and shop along your way. Filmmakers range from local fine artists, like Gary Emrich and David Zimmer, and digital-video promoter Ivar Zeile of Denver Digerati, to CU Denver media students and animation studios like Studio Hippo. We’re  thinking date night: A new take on dinner and a movie.

Boulder International Film Festival
Boulder Theater, 2032 14th Street, Boulder, and other Boulder locations
February 22 through 25
$60 opening-night gala, $375 to $450 festival pass, $95 CineCHEF 2018, $20 closing-night screening, individual screenings TBA.

The Boulder International Film Festival somehow packs a global slate of films and fun into four furious days, and this year is no different. The fest roars out of the gate on opening night with a screening of Borg vs. McEnroe, starring Shia LaBeouf as John McEnroe and Sverrir Gudnason as Björn Borg; two pre-film parties at the Hotel Boulderado and Rembrandt Yard will prepare you to go back in time to Wimbledon circa 1980 for a battle of the tennis titans. In between that and the closing-night offering — a work-in-progress from James Balog that picks up where Chasing Ice left off, turning a lens on the stateside effects of climate change — BIFF manages to slip in Friday’s CineCHEF 2018: Denver vs. Boulder cooking competition, a Saturday Noir Party, and a whole lot more. Watch the BIFF website for more announcements.

Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour
Boulder Theater, 2032 14th Street, Boulder
Nightly, February 27 through March 1, 7 p.m.

The prestigious Banff Mountain Film Festival brings the best in outdoor film worldwide to Alberta every fall, but here in Colorado, we can sit back and wait for it to come to us — in its lean, mean, repackaged best-of-the-best three-night form. Whittled down to the top 25 outdoor and adventure films shown at Banff, the fest tour stops over in Boulder for three separate nights of programming. There’s no better way to experience that good old armchair exhilaration. If you’re a Denver viewer, hold tight: The tour will stop at the Paramount Theatre on March 2, 3 and 4.

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