Film and TV

Sie FilmCenter Rolling Out "Soft" Reopen in Time for a Hard Halloween

Bram Stoker's Dracula is the centerpiece of Sie Film Center's Halloween night offerings
Bram Stoker's Dracula is the centerpiece of Sie Film Center's Halloween night offerings YouTube

After being closed for more than a year and moving all offerings online, the Sie FilmCenter is reopening. The permanent home of Denver Film is gearing up to once again offer to the flick-faithful a “weekly calendar of first-run exclusives and arthouse revivals — over 600 per year, all shown in their original language and format.” And in person, to anyone showing proof of a full vaccination and wearing a mask unless actively eating and drinking.

For now, it will be a “soft” reopen, which starts October 28 in advance of the 44th Denver Film Festival, which will run from November 3 through November 14. “The Film Festival will be our grand reopening, since that’s when we’ll be welcoming in hundreds of people to the FilmCenter,” says artistic director Keith Garcia. "We of course want to make sure that everything is going as it should before we bring in all the people that have been so patiently waiting over this past twenty months for us to reopen. We just can’t wait to turn the projectors on and welcome everyone back to watching movies.”

It’s definitely been a long twenty months; the Sie FilmCenter has survived thanks to the generosity of its patrons and emergency funding. “The continued loyalty of our members has been amazing,” Garcia says. “Because we’re a 501c3 nonprofit — Colorado’s only nonprofit theater — we also have the advantage of funding from SCFD,” the metro area's Scientific and Cultural Facilities District fund. And the Sie was also the “very excited recipient” of a Shuttered Venue Operator grant, courtesy of the American Rescue Act.

“We also got a little creative,” Garcia explains. “We began working with Virtual Cinema, which is something cool we’re going to continue to do moving forward. We kept up the Film on the Rocks Drive-in. We did private rentals, which were very popular. Anyone could rent out a theater to watch whatever they wanted to, and a lot of people took us up on that.”

The Sie also took advantage of the long break to take "the opportunity to make some renovations,” Garcia says. “We have brand-new seats, which is very exciting. We’ve moved around our lobby a little bit, moved the concession stand to a better area, kind of opened up that front space.” Garcia promises that there are other improvements, too: “They might not be apparent to the general public, but longtime fans and members of Denver Film will be pleasantly surprised.”

As the soft opening starts rolling out on October 28, three films will run on what used to be the normal schedule: Without Getting Killed or Caught, a documentary about Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt and the bizarre relationship they forged through the love of the same woman; a Spanish film that was a hit at last year’s Sundance Film Festival, a dramedy about a mother and daughter called El Planeta; and an animated medieval horror tale that Garcia warns is “definitely not for kids” called The Spine of Night. “Think Heavy Metal,” Garcia suggests.
On top of those, the Sie is hosting an October 28 "Slay" screening of the horror flick Scream, with “a live drag-cast that re-creates the murders” as the film is paused, Garcia notes; an October 30 double-feature of two recently restored films from Wong Kar Wai: Chungking Express and In the Mood for Love; and a new restoration of Pedro Almodóvar's favorite horror film, 1979’s Arrebato, presented in 35mm film on both October 29 and 30.

And then on Halloween, some brand-new restorations: Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s 1997 film Cure; the fortieth anniversary of both Joe Dante’s The Howling and Andrzej Żuławski’s Possession; Nobuhiko Obayashi's bonkers 1977 horror masterpiece, House; and a new restoration of Francis Ford Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula. For that final film, Garcia invites fans to “come dressed as your favorite neck-biter” in honor of the holiday.

All this is the lead-up to the 44th Denver Film Festival, not only at the Sie FilmCenter, but other venues around the city. After a successful virtual adaptation in 2020, the fest will once again include such elements as red-carpet premieres, screenings, filmmaker conversations and more. Some of the on-site events will also be available to stream on demand.

“Every year, we take a few days off once the festival ends to rest up and reset,” Garcia notes. “So beginning November 19, Sie FilmCenter will be open as it once was. Back to full operation. We’ll be trying some new things based on some of the lessons we learned over the pandemic, but always remembering the most important thing to the Sie. And that’s film.”

For more information and showtimes, see the Sie website.
KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Teague Bohlen is a writer, novelist and professor at the University of Colorado Denver. His first novel, The Pull of the Earth, won the Colorado Book Award for Literary Fiction in 2007; his textbook The Snarktastic Guide to College Success came out in 2014. His new collection of flash fiction, Flatland, is available now.
Contact: Teague Bohlen