Start lining up your favorite babysitter, packing to-go meals and stocking up on eyedrops, because tickets for the 38th annual Denver Film Festival, which runs from November 4 through November 15, are officially on sale today. This year’s schedule, which boasts over 250 films from 39 different countries, is a lot to take in. You can start poring over the Film Guide inserted in the current edition of Westword or, if you don't like ink on your fingers, you can download the guide at the redesigned denverfilm.org/festival.
Shining atop the festival's crown are four recently announced red-carpet-event films, including opening night's Anomalisa, a breathtaking, stop-motion oddity from Charlie Kaufman, whose wild brain brought us Being John Malkovich, Adaptation and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Michael Moore’s latest doc, Where to Invade Next, acts as the festival’s centerpiece film. Todd Hayne’s stunning Carol, starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, holds the red-carpet matinee honor, while a debut feature from James Sadwith, Coming Through the Rye, closes out the festival.
"This year's Red Carpet Presentations represent four unique voices in cinema," says festival director Britta Erickson. "From the ingenious mind of Charlie Kaufman to the ever-challenging viewpoint of Michael Moore; from the stunning, Oscar-worthy performances in Carol to the cinematic ode to The Catcher in the Rye, the Denver Film Festival's Red Carpet premieres offer a chance for audiences to truly be swept away by the magic of film."
Former title sponsor Starz will be presenting the festival’s Special Presentations, which include some of the most highly anticipated films on the festival circuit right now: The Boat Builder, Brooklyn, Hitchcock/Truffaut, I Saw the Light, The Lady in the Van, Mediterranea, Mia Madre, My All American, Son of Saul, Suffragette, Youth (from 2013 Maria & Tommaso Maglione Italian Filmmaker Award and Academy Award® Winner Paolo Sorrentino) and more. Red Carpet Presentations will take place at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House; Special Presentations and regular screenings will be at the Sie FilmCenter and the UA Denver Pavilions Stadium 15.
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Regular screening tickets are $12 for Denver Film Society members and $15 for non-members, Special Presentation tickets run $14 for members and $17 for non-members. Red Carpet packages start at $60 and are on sale online at denverfilm.org/festival or at the DFF main box-office location at the Sie FilmCenter, 2510 East Colfax Avenue.
I was the programming manager for the Denver Film Society for many years and will be introducing films during the festival, so I'll see you in the trenches. But to get you started on your film path, here are just a few of my recommendations for next month's cinematic cornucopia:
5) Raiders! The Story Of The Greatest Fan Film Ever Made
Screens November 6, November 8
In the ‘80s, two eleven-year-old film geeks began a painstakingly shot-for-shot remake of Raiders of the Lost Ark that became an underground cult hit. Now in their forties, the two reunite in this triumphant documentary to bring a conclusion to their epic fan masterpiece (which plays alongside the doc, for obvious reasons).
4) Sailing a Sinking Sea
Screens November 6-8
Experimental and dreamy in its technique, Olivia Wyatt’s documentary introduces us to the unique daily lives of the Moken, a group of seafaring nomads who forage and spearfish the islands between Burma and Thailand.
Screens November 12, 13
Famed Tarantino stuntwoman/muse Zoë Bell continues to show her acting chops (and kicks) in Josh C. Waller’s action-thriller, where Bell’s photojournalist finds herself in a fight for her life when she sees something she shouldn’t have, deep in the Colombian jungle. As an added bonus, Bell will be at the festival to to talk about the film!
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Screens November 14
In 1962, Alfred Hitchcock sat down with fellow filmmaker Francois Truffaut for a series of interviews that would become one of the most inspiring books for aspiring auteurs. This new documentary talks to some of those inspired by the meeting — like Martin Scorsese, RichardLinklater and David Fincher — about the power of this very special meeting of the minds.
Screens November 14
Famed director Todd Haynes (Far From Heaven, I’m Not There, Safe) adapts Patricia Highsmith’s famed lesbian thriller, The Price of Salt, into a lush tale of longing and desire that takes a calm meandering walk back into the Technicolor-soaked world of Douglas Sirk melodramas. Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara star, soaking up all the heat from plenty of stolen glances.