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.EXPAND
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
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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.

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.

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.

I Am Not a Number: Decoding The Prisoner
Friday, April 20, and Saturday, April 21, 7:30 p.m.

Muenzinger Auditorium, 1905 Colorado Avenue, Boulder
Admission: $7 to $8 at the door

Alex Cox, famed director of the cult hit Repo Man and a former member of the University of Colorado Boulder’s film-studies faculty, also happens to be a devotee of actor Patrick McGoohan’s short-lived, late-’60s British sci-fi/spy series The Prisoner; he even wrote a book about it on the occasion of its fiftieth anniversary. Cox will return to CU for a two-night Prisoner-focused stand at the International Film Series. Says IFS director Pablo Kjolseth: “We decided to give Alex a weekend to dissect and show his favorite show. What he says and screens on Saturday will be different from what he says and screens on Friday, so these are being treated as two different shows.”

Czech That Film
Thursday, April 19, through Sunday, April 22

Sie FilmCenter, 2510 East Colfax Avenue
Admission: $7 to $11.50 general admission, $25 to $35 festival pass

As the bedrock of the ’60s-era Czech new wave, filmmakers such as Miloš Forman and Jirí Menzel put Czechoslovakia on the movie map, favoring black humor and a raw, oblique approach to storytelling in films like Loves of a Blonde, The Fireman’s Ball and Closely Watched Trains. Years later, sensitive filmmaking remains a Czech tradition, as evidenced by the Czech That Film festival’s cream-of-the-crop selection of modern films that sometimes look back on the same historical times that inspired new-wave directors. The five-film showcase starts on Thursday, April 19, with a 7 p.m. screening of David Mrnka’s Milada, featuring a Q&A with the director after the screen flickers off. See the full schedule online.

Found Footage Festival: Volume 8
Friday, April 20, 9:30 p.m.

Sie FilmCenter, 2510 East Colfax Avenue
Admission: $12 to $15

Joe Pickett and Nick Prueher are back, providing both off-the-wall footage and comic commentary for the eighth edition of the Found Footage Festival, a spliced reel of absurdly funny VHS clips from the dynamic duo. Highlights include material from The Law Enforcement Guide to Satanic Cults, North Dakota news-show outtakes and bloopers, a Desert Storm parade (what goes around comes around, in light of current events) and the picks of David Letterman’s personal video collection, now inherited by the FFF.

Denver Silent Film Festival 2018
Friday, April 27, through Sunday, April 29

Alamo Drafthouse Sloans Lake, 4255 West Colfax Avenue
General admission: $8 to $13, festival passes $110

Now in its seventh year, the Denver Silent Film Festival not only gets movie-goers back in touch with the magical roots of our modern film industry, but it does so with style, evident in the fest’s careful curation and authentic touches, which include live musical accompaniment at every screening. It’s a labor of love for director Howie Movshovitz and his staff, and that’s what will really shine through, right from the opening scenes of Frank Urson’s 1926 potboiler Chicago, starring Phyllis Haver as Roxie Hart and accompanied by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra. Chicago kicks off the fest on Friday, April 27, at 7 p.m. at the Alamo Sloan's Lake. Movshovitz says DSFF has gone digital out of necessity, but on the sunny side, you can look forward to gorgeous restored prints. Learn more and find the full schedule online.

Invention for Destruction
Saturday, April 28, 2 p.m.
The Fabulous Baron Munchausen
Sunday April 29, 7:30 p.m.
Muenzinger Auditorium, 1905 Colorado Avenue, Boulder
Admission: $7 to $8 at the door (kids free)

IFS director Pablo Kjolseth says these two rare Karel Zeman imports from Prague are a must for all ages: “I saw the digital restoration of The Fabulous Baron Munchausen at the Telluride Film Festival, and it was by far one of the best things I saw that entire Labor Day weekend — raw movie magic from another age and another country. The other title is Invention for Destruction, which brings to life the worlds of Jules Verne. Both are family-friendly and super-fun, so I decided to give each title a 2 p.m. matinee screening time and make them free for kids. The parents are guaranteed to have as much fun as the kids.”

Send information on upcoming film events to editorial@westword.com.

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