Ten Must-Watch Colorado Filmmakers Making Movies Now

Keep Westword Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Denver and help keep the future of Westword free.

No, Colorado is not Los Angeles or New York. But the homegrown films this state has to offer defy the expectations of moviegoers whose tastes are limited to Hollywood and Indiewood offerings. We have bold, original voices, untamed by industry standards. A host of recent documentaries have made national waves, garnering local filmmakers Academy Awards, prestigious festival screenings, and major network deals, and even feature fiction filmmaking has thrived in recent years. Meanwhile, the University of Colorado Boulder's film program continues to serve as a hub of cinematic experimentation. Here, in alphabetical order, are ten of the state's top filmmakers now making movies. See also: The Ten Best Movie Events in January in Denver

10) Henry Ansbacher

Henry Ansbacher, founder and executive director of

Just Media

, worked as a producer with Academy Award-winning director Daniel Junge on documentaries that garnered the duo copious awards. Since they split over five years ago, Ansbacher has continued to work at the intersection of documentary and activism. His most recent finished feature,

American Mustang

, is as excessive a documentary as you might find. Replete with 3D cinematography, it chronicles the history and plight of wild horses through dreamscapes, advocacy and interviews performed by actors.

remembering when the internet was ad free from christina battle on Vimeo.

9) Christina Battle Christina Battle has been an unstoppable force in curating some of Colorado's edgiest film and video programming through her ongoing collaboration with Adán de la Garza, Nothing to See Here. Battle's films and videos show widely at festivals. Her ongoing web series, Notes to Self, is a minimalist take on a variety of political quotes written on small, white pieces of paper. As the paper burns, the phrases linger in the viewer's imagination.

8) Daniel Junge

Documentary filmmaker Daniel Junge has a decorated career producing short and long-form social-issue documentaries that have garnered him festival awards, Emmys, an Oscar and an additional Academy Award nomination. During his ten years directing for Just Media, he focused on up-close-and-personal, cinema verite documentaries. His film

Being Evel

, about daredevil Evel Knievel, will be featured in the documentary category at this year's Sundance Film Festival.

Read on for seven more of the best Colorado filmmakers.

7) Jeanne Liotta Jeanne Liotta has built a body of films and videos meditating on culture, landscape, art, science and philosophy. Her minimalist filmmaking style has garnered her praise in the New York experimental film world. She teaches at the University of Colorado in Boulder; her work has shown at the New York Film Festival, the Whitney Biennial and the Museum of Modern Art.

6) Alexandre Philipe

Alexandre Philipe, a prolific force in the Colorado documentary scene, makes quirky films that explore geek culture's obsession with favorite cult classics. In

The People Vs. George Lucas

, Philipe highlights fans of the

Star Wars

franchise and their heated relationship with filmmaker George Lucas.

Doc of the Dead

explores the rise of the zombie genre and its audiences, and

The Life and Times of Paul, The Psychic Octopus

looks at cultural mania about an octopus who predicts the outcome of soccer matches.

5) Louie Psihoyos

Renowned photojournalist Louie Psihoyos founded the Oceanic Preservation Society in Colorado. The organization uses documentary media to educate the public about the extinction of the global fish population. In 2009, the company released the Academy Award-winning nonfiction-thriller,

The Cove

, a gut-churning, morbid, edge-of- the-seat look at the Japanese fishing industry's careless slaughter of dolphins. Psihoyos also directed

Chasing Ice

, a documentary about National Geographic photographer James Balog's journey documenting diminishing glaciers through time-lapse photography.

THE DRIFT from Kelly Sears on Vimeo.

4) Kelly Sears A recent transplant to Colorado, Kelly Sears makes strange films blending science fiction and experimental genres. Using cutout animation, with an emphasis in collage, her films reflect on everything from surveillance culture and space exploration to manifest destiny. Her work has shown at Sundance and the Museum of Modern Art, amongst other venues.

Read on for three more of the best Colorado filmmakers.


3) Kim Shively 2014 Westword MasterMind Kim Shively directs dozens of short documentary films with an experimental edge. Flush with rich cinematography, smart editing and a wry sense of humor, her experimental talk show, The Existential Beaver is a daring look at the hipster subculture and its often vacuous and occasionally profound philosophical musings. This is reality TV stripped of drama, as melancholy as it is hilarious.

Remains to be Seen CLIP from Phil Solomon on Vimeo.

2) Phil Solomon Avant-garde filmmaker Phil Solomon has followed in the footsteps of the late experimental filmmaker Stan Brakhage, producing a body of hand-processed, often silent films that are mind-blowing examples of what happens when an artist pushes the boundaries of chemical processing on real film stock. His films tend toward lyrical abstraction and often deal with grief, history and nostalgia.

1) Jamin Winans

For sci-fi fans, local director Jamin Winans creates movies that teeter between fiction and surrealism. His best-known cult hit,


, is an emotionally jarring story about a workaholic father coming back to life to rescue his daughter from a coma. Winan's most recent science fiction film,

The Frame

, has been released on DVD and online and was the subject of a

Westword cover story

in October.

Watch for a profile of Henry Ansbacher's latest project here tomorrow.

Find me on Twitter: @kyle_a_harris

Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.