Arts and Culture

The Ten Best Film Events in Denver in April

Hunter S. Thompson and Oscar Zeta Acosta, observed together in The Rise and Fall of Brown Buffalo at XicanIndie Film Fest XX.
Hunter S. Thompson and Oscar Zeta Acosta, observed together in The Rise and Fall of Brown Buffalo at XicanIndie Film Fest XX. Courtesy of Su Teatro
The first full month of spring is blooming with blockbusters, including Avengers: Infinity War, which opens on April 27, along with films like Super Troopers 2 and Rampage. But in April you can also travel farther afield, both physically and mentally, at film festivals and one-shot evenings showcasing smaller but perhaps more soul-satisfying movies. Here are the ten best film events in Denver this month, in chronological order.

Botanica - Trailer from Some Shorts on Vimeo.

Aspen Shortsfest 2018
Tuesday, April 3, through Sunday, April 8

Wheeler Opera House, 320 East Hyman Avenue, Aspen
Crystal Theatre, 427 Main Street, Carbondale
Festival passes: Starting at $150 (includes membership)
General admission: $15 to $20 (complimentary tickets for children available in advance at the Wheeler Opera House box office)

Shortsfest was tailor-made for folks with short attention spans, but that’s not the only reason to head for the hills. The unsung world of short films, a rich treasury of cinematic flash fiction, animation and documentaries, rarely gets exposure on commercial screens, and that’s what makes Aspen Film’s annual April fest so different. Anchored throughout by eleven separate shorts programs, Shortsfest also includes parties (the fest kicks off at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 3, with a reception to get things rolling), filmmaker conversations, panel discussions and workshops. Find everything you need to know about Shortsfest at the Aspen Film website.

New Chefs on the Block
Wednesday, April 4, 7 p.m.

Landmark's Chez Artiste Theatre
2800 South Colorado Boulevard
Admission: $15

Denver is a foodie town, and this foodie movie looks particularly tasty. New Chefs on the Block follows the divergent paths of two Washington, D.C., chefs — Aaron Silverman of Rose’s Luxury and Frank Linn of Frankly...Pizza! — with different goals as restaurateurs. Author and restaurateur Danny Meyer (Setting the Table), two-time James Beard Award winner Michel Richard, Bravo Top Chef All-Star Mike Isabella and Washington Post food writer Tim Carman all chime in along the way, as Silverman rises to the top tier of chefdom with laurels from Bon Appétit and the Beard Foundation and Linn and his wife produce a superior pizza joint. Chez Artiste will inject a local spin into the one-night-only screening by inviting Edible Beats culinary director Jeremy Kittelson (Linger, Root Down, Ophelia's and Vital Root) for a post-screening Q&A.

2018 Vail Film Festival
Thursday, April 5, through Sunday, April 8
Vail, Colorado

Festival passes $50 to $749

For its fifteenth year, the Vail fest gives a nod to film feminists by selecting a varied roster of movies all written, directed or produced by women. The four-day spectacle squashes nearly fifty films into a tightly packed schedule that starts at 7 p.m. April 5 with Sun Dogs, Jennifer Morrison’s story of a developmentally impaired man who wants to be a hero; moves on to a big night Saturday, April 7, with an 8:15 p.m. screening of The Long Dumb Road, a road-trip saga about two men journeying through the American Southwest; and finishes up with additional showings on Sunday, April 8. In between, you’ll enjoy parties, receptions and filmmaker Q&As at various locations, and see feature films, shorts, documentaries and student work at the Blue Starlite Cinema and CinéBistro at Solaris in Vail...and maybe even get to sample the Taste of Vail, which runs from April 4 through April 8. See the complete Vail Film Festival lineup online.

Marigold the Matador-Teaser from Kenneth Castillo on Vimeo.

XicanIndie FilmFest XX
Thursday, April 5, through Sunday, April 8
Su Teatro Cultural and Performing Arts Center, 721 Santa Fe Drive
Admission: $40 festival pass (includes a premiere screening of Abel Sanchez’s documentary Song for Cesar), $7 to $10 individual screening.

Su Teatro and Chicano film guru Daniel Salazar celebrate twenty years of XicanIndie, bringing a slate of films focused on stories of Chicano life, history and activism to the screen for four days. The fest’s pod of documentaries, both local and national, covers everyone from New Mexican icon Reies Tijerina, who led the infamous Tierra Amarilla Courthouse Raid in 1967, and attorney Oscar Zeta Acosta, the volatile crony of Hunter S. Thompson, to a cast of movement heroes in the Colorado/New Mexico borderlands, profiled in Symbols of Resistance, a film from the Freedom Archives. And festival pass-holders only will get an exclusive sneak preview of Abel Sanchez’s César Chávez doc, Song for Cesar, on Saturday evening (as well as entry to all festival receptions and conversations). In between, there’s Murder in the Woods, an all-Latino slasher starring actor Danny Trejo; Marigold the Matador, about a young girl whose self-protecting alter-ego is a matador; and other delights. Find the complete program online.

RMCAD Presents: All This Panic
Wednesday, April 11, 7 p.m.
Alamo Drafthouse Sloan's Lake, 4255 West Colfax Avenue
Admission: $7 online for the general public, free at the door for RMCAD students, faculty, staff and alumni with valid ID

The Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design wraps up its yearlong Collapsing Time Film Series with All This Panic, a documentary by freshman director Jenny Page that follows seven sophisticate teenaged girls in Brooklyn as they maneuver the ropes of adolescence over a period of three years. Through tight editing and non-judgmental portrayals, All This Panic unfolds a gentle and open-eyed inside story on what it’s like to undergo the ultimate rite of passage in a new century.

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