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.
Free Fall Directed by György Pálfi, Gergely Pohárnok and Zsófia Ruttkay Thursday, November 13, 6:30 p.m. (advance tickets sold out; tickets may be available one hour prior to show time) Friday, November 14, 6:30 p.m. (advance tickets sold out; tickets may be available one hour prior to show time) Friday, November 14, 9:00 p.m. (advance tickets sold out; tickets may be available one hour prior to show time) SDFF Sie FilmCenter
Withey describes Free Fall, his choice for Friday, as "a collection of short stories held together by an overarching theme -- one storyline that ties it all together.
"I'm not giving anything away by saying the movies starts when this old woman drags herself up to the top of her apartment building and throws herself off the top of it. When she hits bottom, everything she's carrying scatters on the ground and her glasses break. But she gets up, gathers her stuff and slowly begins climbing back up the stairs of this apartment building to get back to the roof and do it again."
How do the stories fit together?
"As the woman goes from floor to floor, the camera goes into an apartment on each floor, and that's where these stories happen," he explains. "You witness these very strange events that are taking place on each floor, and they're very weird and surprising.
"It's a very dark comedy, very strange. This is definitely one of the more unique films in the festival."
When Under Fire -- Shoot Back! Directed by Marc Wiese Saturday, November 15, 9:45 p.m. Sunday, November 16, 4:15 p.m. UA Pavilions
Withey's pick for Saturday, When Under Fire -- Shoot Back!, "is a documentary about this group of South African photojournalists called the Bang Bang Club," he says. "They worked exclusively in conflict zones and they were obsessed. It's mostly an adrenaline thing, and they continually put themselves in harm's way to cover what's going on for various newspapers and magazines: the New York Times, Time magazine. There were four of them, and they won multiple Pulitzer Prizes. But doing this work took a toll on them mentally and emotionally, and they were often criticized for their work individually."
As an example, Withey cites "a famous photo of a small boy in Africa who's sort of crumpled over, very thin and emaciated -- and there's a huge vulture sitting behind him. The photographer got a lot of criticism for that photo, with people asking, 'Why didn't you do something?' And he said, 'I took that photo and then I shooed that bird away.' But what no one understood was that if you looked to the left or to the right, just outside the frame, the vultures were everywhere.
"Some of these guys were wounded and some of them were killed, and they had wives or girlfriends who wanted them to stop. And their editors were torn, too. They were great photographers, but there were also people saying to them, 'Maybe you need to ease up.' It's a fascinating film."
Continue for Brit Withey's pick for Sunday, November 16, plus videos for all three selections. Stations of the Cross Directed by Dietrich Brüggemann Sunday, November 16, 9:00 p.m. Thursday, November 20, 7:00 p.m. Friday, November 21, 4:00 p.m. UA Pavilions
Stations of the Cross, Withey's recommendation for Sunday, November 16, is "a film I saw at the Berlin Film Festival that I really loved. It's told in fourteen chapters that correspond to the stations of the cross. The movie follows the story of a young girl who's around thirteen, and she's been raised extremely religiously. But she's at that age where she's starting to question a lot of things -- especially religion."
The girl "goes to church every day," he continues, "and she's approaching confirmation. Her mother is very overbearing, and her younger brother has an undetermined malady -- a disability of some sort. And she's starting to question in a very real way why God, if He is so noble and all-knowing, would let some people be afflicted in this way. She wants to know how God can be so gentle when her brother is in such pain. So she decides to mentally take on his pain -- and she starts to waste away.
"It doesn't really feel Kafka-esque. I'd compare it more to something out of Dostoevsky: one person taking on the ills of an already dark and demented world. It's bleak, for sure, but definitely one of the festival's highlights."
Look below to see trailers for Free Fall and Stations of the Cross, as well as a brief video featuring When Under Fire -- Shoot Back! director Marc Wiese. To access all the film festival's selections and purchase tickets, click here -- and be sure be to visit our Show and Tell blog each day during the fest for more of Brit's picks.
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