Once spring has sprung in the Mile High City, you might want to head outside — but fight that urge. Because in April, you'll want to get into the cool darkness of one of your favorite movie theaters and see a film or three. If you must spend time outdoors, you can head to one of the mountain towns that's hosting a film fest. Here in chronological order are the ten best bets for cinema events in or near Denver this month. 10. Aspen Shorts Fest
Wheeler Opera House, Aspen
Short films are the secret weapons of the film world. Clocking in anywhere from one minute to forty, shorts excel because they have to work harder than their full-length brethren in order to tell a complete and engaging story in half the time. Though often relegated to “opening act” status for a main feature, these films have become the focus of the 25 year-old Aspen Shortsfest, which features seventy of them over the course of six days. And while Aspen Film also puts on an impressive feature film fest in September, the organization displays an uncanny ability to sort through hundreds of short films in order to curate a program that is both entertaining and influential. In the past two years, five of the festival’s Best Short winners have gone on to be nominated for Academy Awards. Hot on the buzz list this time is the world premiere of director Sean Baker's (Tangerine) Snowbird. See the whole schedule, including events with many of the film directors and industry luminaries, at aspenfilm.org. 9. Classic Divas at the Esquire
Wednesdays at 2 and 7 p.m. through April Esquire Theatre
Last month, the Esquire’s salute to the grand dames of cinema highlighted the gals who ruled the first half of the last century, with films starring Hepburn, Davis, Dandridge and Crawford. In April, the series gets contemporary: Elizabeth Taylor, Pam Grier, Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Dolly Parton and Cher take the spotlight, with screenings of the scenery-chewing Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, explosive blaxploitation hit Coffy, girl-power gem 9 To 5, and irreverent rom-com Moonstruck to show the children what powerhouse acting is all about. If we could include the nail-polish emoji, we’d do it here. Get your tickets at landmarktheaters.com. 8. Vail Film Festival
Cascade Club and Cinebistro in Vail
High atop the still-snowy peaks of Vail, you can spot plenty of skiers sucking back hot chocolate and enjoying the sun. But down in the village, an increasing number of people will choose to stay in the dark this week. That's because the Vail Film Festival will feature over sixty films from around the world, including a special showcase of Hong Kong treats — like the wildly international hit Monster Hunt — as well as Q&As with celebrated filmmakers, splendid concerts that embellish some of the movies, and a special nod to rising star Madison Davenport, who'll be on hand to celebrate her film, A Light Beneath Their Feet. Reserve your seats and see the full schedule at vailfilmfestival.com. 7. Showgirls, with live commentary by David Schmader
Friday, April 8 Alamo Drafthouse
It’s hard to name another film that has had the reinvention run that Paul Verhoeven’s Showgirls has enjoyed since its disastrous debut in 1995. Here we are more than twenty years later, still talking about the movie and looking at new ways to watch the epic tale of one Nomi Malone (Saved by the Bell’s Elizabeth Berkley), who goes from stripper to star of the Vegas strip in a short time and by ANY MEANS NECESSARY. Written by sleazy scribe Joe Eszterhas, the film was chided, derided, defended, rear-ended and finally buffed and fluffed into an entirely different experience, depending on who’s leading you into the screening. This time the Alamo is bringing out David Schmader, writer for Seattle's The Stranger. Whether this is your first viewing of the film or your fiftieth, Schmader promises to make hisita night to remember and a film you won’t forget — no matter how much you try. Reserve your ticket at drafthouse.com. 6. The Invitation
Opens Friday, April 8 Sie FilmCenter and Alamo Drafthouse
When the dust settles and Hollywood finally supports more active female directors than male, filmmaker Karyn Kusama will already be a landmark. From her 2000 debut film Girlfight, to her big-budget take on cult cartoon Aeon Flux, to her criminally underseen and underappreciated Jennifer’s Body, Kusama has been creating films to watch for the better part of this century — and now, with The Invitation, she may have arrived. This new thriller sets an eerie tone as a man is invited to a dinner party at his former home, where his ex-wife and her new husband now reside, and he can’t shake the feeling that by the time dessert arrives, something terrible is going to happen. (To say more would ruin the film’s twists and turns.) Kusama’s eye brilliantly illustrates Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi’s tense screenplay, and makes her one to keep watching as she hits her stride. Get your tickets at denverfilm.org and drafthouse.com.
Keep reading for five more film events.
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Keith Garcia is a filmmaker, writer and secret agent looking for love and the perfect slice of pizza. If he looks familiar, it's probably because he introduced a film you watched in Denver sometime between 1996 and 2014.