Amidst the blizzard of film-lovers blanketing Park City, Utah for the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, Ernie Quiroz, the Denver Film Society's programming manager, watched sixteen movies in just three days, an enviable sprint for most seasoned couch-potatoes. More enviable, he did it for work.
Quiroz returned to Denver Monday after talking shop with independent movie-theater owners and fellow programmers at the Art House Convergence and gobbling up films during his Sundance binge. Back at the SIE FilmCenter, where he reels with post-fest enthusiasm, he faces a mammoth question: How will he get people to show up to the FilmCenter when Netflix offers a robust collection of Sundance movies long before the DFS can access them? See also: Meet new Denver Film Society programmer Ernie Quiroz
Theaters used to have first dibs on screening rights. Netflix has turned that upside down. The company buys the rights to some of the smaller films at Sundance and streams them online long before Quiroz can exhibit them at the FilmCenter.
"I saw Mitt, the documentary on Mitt Romney. Whatever your politics are, if you're a Republican or a Democrat, I thought it was great to have a behind-the-scenes look at what it's like to be a politician," Quiroz says. "Netflix has that movie, and it's going to be available there in just a couple weeks."
Because Netflix scooped up Mitt, Quiroz cannot justify giving it a weeklong run at the FilmCenter. "We might show Mitt as a one-off," he says. "I know the filmmaker. If we could bring him out, we might do a special event around it, or even bring Mitt Romney out."
Quiroz knows that showing movies is not enough to attract people to the FilmCenter. "Anybody can show a film -- Landmark or AMC -- but it's having these events, having the guest speakers come out, having the filmmakers come out that makes us different," he explains.
Later this year, Quiroz hopes to bejewel the big screen at the FilmCenter with Sundance gem Under the Electric Sky, a documentary about the Electric Daisy Carnival, a three-day long rave. "We could show a movie like that and tie it in with a DJ and have a dance party after the film. So you come out of the film and you have a rave at the Film Center," he says.
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