Film and TV

Denver Film Festival 2021 Must-See Picks for November 12-14: The Innocents and More

An image from The Innocents.
An image from The Innocents. YouTube
Denver Film Festival artistic director Matt Campbell is again offering his must-see picks for each day of the event, which continues through November 14. Keep reading to get his take on the selections for Friday, November 12 (The Innocents), Saturday, November 13 (The Story of Film: A New Generation), and Sunday, November 14 (Silent Land).
The Innocents
Directed by Eskil Vogt
9:15 p.m. Friday, November 12
AMC House 2

Matt Campbell calls The Innocents "one of my favorite late-night entries. It's a mystery and a thriller and a horror film."

The setting for the tale is "a big apartment building, a multi-unit complex on the edge of a forest. This family moves into the complex with two daughters — one probably ten to twelve, and a younger, special-needs child who's non-verbal," Campbell says. "They have a loving relationship, but because the younger daughter requires so much attention from her parents, the older daughter can be kind of short when it comes to having to take care of her sister and being a babysitter when her parents are busy."

Before long, the youthful pair are "hanging out with other kids in the complex — but then there start to be these supernatural events taking place, and you realize there are these weird connections between certain kids and the forest," he adds. These elements "infect themselves into the young girl with special needs, and her conditions are alleviated, which amazes her parents. Suddenly, she's able to talk and look people in the eye. But then things start to go by the wayside. It's a creepy, eerie film, and beautifully shot."
The Story of Film: A New Generation
Directed by Mark Cousins
4 p.m. Saturday, November 13
AMC House 5
6 p.m. Sunday, November 14
AMC House 5

"This is kind of the capstone of Mark Cousins's multi-part history of film, which we've been presenting for years now," Campbell says. "The latest iteration refers, basically, to the last decade of filmmaking, and it's a very in-depth, really fascinating dissection of film history and global cinema."

Cousins offers many nods to international cinema along with the occasional Hollywood excerpt, showing how blockbusters can sometimes have unexpectedly obscure roots; Campbell noticed a clip from a piece by experimental filmmaker Michael Snow that he saw while attending film school. But then, he says, Cousins "references a shot in a Marvel movie. He brings the totality of film together, showing how the art and language of film has created a medium that has such an enormous influence on our lives."

Viewers without cinema degrees may get something extra from the screening. "If you missed out on film school, this is a can't-miss," Campbell contends.
Silent Land/Cicha Ziemia
Directed by Aga Woszczyńska
6 p.m. Sunday, November 14
AMC House 2

Silent Land is "a really impressive film," Campbell says. "It premiered in Venice, and even though it's a Polish film, it takes place in Italy — Sardinia, a resort island community."

The central couple "are on holiday, and they rent a house, but there's no water in the pool," he recounts. "They ask the guy they rented the house from to fill it up, and he sends a worker over the next day — an undocumented young man who has an unfortunate accident and dies in the pool."

The two protagonists notify the local authorities about what happened, and Campbell hints that "there's something ambiguous about how they react and respond. That's the meat of the film — them going through this process of dealing with the police and answering their questions. It's a refraction of their relationship, which is cold and distant. It's a very Polish film in that way."

Click for ticket information and more details about the 44th Denver Film Festival, including how to access some selections online.
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