Starz Denver Film Festival: Brit Withey previews opening night's Labor Day

Again this year, Starz Denver Film Festival artistic director Brit Withey is offering his must-see picks for each day of the fest -- including many flicks that movie lovers might otherwise miss amid the flood of silver-screen goodies.

Today he previews the festival, which runs November 6-17, and talks about the opening night feature, Labor Day.

See also: Brit Withey, one of the 100 Colorado Creatives

Labor Day Directed by Jason Reitman 8 p.m. Wednesday, November 6 Ellie Caulkins Opera House

This year marks the 36th for the Denver Film Festival, once again sponsored by Starz -- but that doesn't mean it's stuck in a rut. As Withey points out, the cinematic celebration is in constant flux. Each year, for instance, the fest features films from a particular country, with the Netherlands getting the spotlight treatment this time around. In addition, many special presentations will be seen at the Jewish Community Center's Wolf Theater, "which is a completely different thing," he notes. From a programming standpoint, though, "I think it's as diverse and large and all encompassing as always," he says.

As for Labor Day, Withey nods to the cast, headed by Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin, but focuses particular attention on the director, Jason Reitman.

"We've done a lot of Jason Reitman films on our red carpets over the years," including his breakout picture, Juno and Up in the Air, Withey says. "But Labor Day is definitely a departure from the sort of films I think you've gotten used to from him over the years. Most of them have been comic to one degree or another, but this one's much darker, for sure.

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"It's the story of a divorced mother (Winslet) with a young son, and they get taken hostage by an escaped convict (Brolin) over the course of Labor Day weekend. It's about what happens to them, and what takes place between her and the home invader."

From Withey's perspective, what's most interesting about Labor Day is the opportunity to "see somebody who's become a relatively major director making a certain style of film try something different. I think it ultimately might be more interesting than absolutely successful, but he's such an accomplished filmmaker that if he wants to continue in this vein, he absolutely could."

Look below to see a trailer for Labor Day, and be sure to visit the Show and Tell blog each day throughout the festival for more of Brit's picks.

Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.

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