The annual Five Points Jazz Festival is Saturday, May 18, and to kick it off, the city is offering a special screening of the 2011 documentary The Girls In the Band at the McNichols Building tomorrow night. The film traces the history of female jazz musicians who were marginalized and often hidden from the spotlight, starting in the 1930s and continuing to the present day; it includes rare footage of the players, and many sharing their own stories of struggle and triumph on camera.
"We thought it was an important film to show because it is a story that no one really knows," says Niecie Washington, special event coordinator for Denver Arts & Venues, which puts on the Five Points Jazz Festival.
"We thought The Girls in the Band was timely because we have a lot of female bands in our show this year," adds Washington. "We have the Katie Glassman Quartet, the Julie Monley Band and we're closing our show with Hazel Miller."
The film tells the stories of female big-band instrumentalists being removed from bandstands, and enduring both racism and sexism that limited playing opportunities. But The Girls tn the Band also touches on the present-day success of many contemporary players, who have made names for themselves internationally in the world of jazz.
"We try to incorporate every aspect of art in the gazz festival -- but we found that film is the one thing we were missing," says Washington. "So for the first time this year, we are screening a movie -- The Girls in the Band was the perfect film for us to include in our festival."
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Tickets for The Girls In The Band are $20 and can be purchased online or at the door; an opening reception starts at 5:30 p.m. and the screening starts at 6:30 p.m. The Five Points Jazz Festival officially runs from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday, May 18 at 27th and Welton streets; admission is free. For more information, visit the Denver Arts & Venues Five Points Jazz Festival page.