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The Ten Best Film Events in Denver in March 2016

Like a classic reel of 35mm click-clacking through a projector's sprockets, film events keep unspooling across metro Denver. Even if the weather is great this month, you'll want to head inside to catch the ten best film events in March, presented here in chronological order. 

10. The Brakhage Center Symposium
Stan Brakhage Center at University of Colorado Boulder
Friday, March 4 through Sunday, March 6

Experimental filmmaker Stan Brakhage made his home at the University of Colorado, building a spot in Boulder where the most alternative of art forms could bloom and flourish. Shortly after his death in 2003, CU began offering the Brakhage Symposium as a yearly celebration of the cinematic world created by Brakhage and all of his peers and students to come. This year’s package is built around a tribute to bizarre, hallucinatory and often transgressively camp filmmaker George Kuchar, whose work inspired the likes of John Waters. Kuchar’s memorable canon will be shown throughout the three-day event, and compadres will appear to honor him: Brother Michael Kuchar, Donna Kerness, Andrew Lampert, Nancy Andrews and Denah Johnson will all share George’s work through a modern lens and their own stories of the cinema giant. All events are free; find the full schedule at colorado.edu.

9. Natural Born Killers and U-Turn with Oliver Stone
Alamo Drafthouse
Sunday, March 6

Filmmaker Oliver Stone was one of Hollywood's most controversial directors in the '90s, tackling stories rife with conspiracy theories and often testing the mores of the American viewing public. Now a biography-in-the-works about Stone and his new film focusing on Edward Snowden are bringing the director back into the public eye, and Stone will be at the Alamo Drafthouse for a double feature of two of his classics. Matt Zoller Seitz, popular film and television critic, author and editor of RogerEbert.com, is working on a book about the Oscar-winning director and will serve as host for Stone's stop in Denver, which includes a screening of the dark, underrated 1997 noir U-Turn, starring Jennifer Lopez and Sean Penn, as well as his 1994 masterpiece of pop-culture criticism, Natural Born Killers, notoriously penned by fellow Hollywood bad boy Quentin Tarantino. U-Turn screens first, followed by Natural Born Killers, which includes a special “Meat Man Burger” and three Santa Fe Brewery beers. Both showings will be followed by a discussion with Stone and Zoller Seitz. Reserve your seats at drafthouse.com.

8. Versus Month
Alamo Drafthouse
Tuesday, March 8 through the month

Before Batman and Superman go at it like a nerd and jock at a high-school reunion, the Alamo is skewing its programming in March to highlight great movie “versus” battles. The melee begins March 8 with a screening of Pitch Perfect, featuring the acapella apocalypse between Fat Amy and Bumper. The fun continues with screenings of Mortal Kombat (Sub-Zero vs. Scorpian), The Batman Movie (the 1966 one with Batman vs. Shark), Fantastic Mr. Fox (Fox vs. Farmer Bean), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 (Shredder vs. Leonardo), Bloodsport (Frank Dux vs. Chong Li), The Monster Squad (Horace vs. The Creature), Step Brothers (Brennan vs. Dale) and wraps up with The Warriors (Swan vs. Luther). Choose your sides and get your tickets at drafthouse.com.

7. A Film For All Seasons: Classic Divas
Landmark’s Esquire Theater
Wednesday, March 9, and subsequent Wednesdays in March and April

March is National Women’s History Month, and so there's no better time for Landmark’s classic film series to return with great lady showcases as the focus. Things kick off with Katharine Hepburn and Ginger Rogers in Stage Door on March 9, followed next week by Bette Davis in the epic bitchslap All About Eve. If that’s not enough star power, Dorothy Dandridge leads the rarely screened musical Carmen Jones and then March closes with Bette Davis and Joan Crawford in the dark-as-pitch Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? Stick around for April when the series spotlights even more badass broads: Pam Grier, Elizabeth Taylor, Cher and a certain Fonda/Tomlin/Parton trifecta. Get your tickets, at a special discount to boot, at landmarktheaters.com.

6. Knight of Cups
TBD Landmark Theater
Opening Friday, March 11 

Lately Terrence Malick’s films, Tree of Life among them, have captivated audiences as much as they have alienated them. His majestic eye can be a bit much for the average moviegoer looking for a simple story; Malick often has the sun, moon and the stars in his sights just as much as he does earthbound ideas. For his latest visual adventure, the filmmaker has set Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Natalie Portman and Joel Kinnaman wandering through a Hollywood landscape — new territory for the director. Open your mind and let Malick’s curated cast and camera take you on a ride through Tinseltown. Get your tickets at landmarktheaters.com.

Keep reading for five more of the best film events in March.

5.  Blue Sunshine with Jeff Lieberman in Person
Alamo Drafthouse
Saturday, March 12

The late 1970s birthed some unusual, often drug-fueled nightmare films that continue to decay the corners of the minds of those who've  seen them. David Cronenberg was the king of many of these slices of horror, but one of the juiciest belongs to filmmaker Jeff Lieberman and his film Blue Sunshine. In short, sudden baldness is causing people to turn spontaneously homicidal, and when a young professional gets accused of one of the murders he sets out to clear his name and find out what’s causing everyone to wig out. Lieberman will be on hand at the Alamo to present his 1978 gem from a gorgeous new 4K transfer. Pull your hair back and get your tickets at drafthouse.com.

4. Cinema Contra presents David Gatten
Saturday, March 12

Avant-garde filmmaker David Gatten — who also holds court as CU Film Studies’ Associate Director of Graduate Studies — has mastered the art of etching, printing and filming words on 16mm film, and the results are fascinating. His rarely screened works have earned him spots on the lists of the Top 10 Filmmakers of the New Century by snoot-masters Film Comment and the 50 Best Filmmakers Under 50 by Cinemascope (which also quizzically lists Quentin Tarantino and twee king Wes Anderson). Gatten will appear with a curated program of his best works and talk about his role in cinema’s pantheon. Tickets are a $5-$8 suggested donation and available at the door of the DIY venue. For more info on the event, follow its Facebook page.

3. Women + Film Festival
Sie FilmCenter
Tuesday, March 14, through Sunday, March 20

The Denver Film Society’s Women + Film Festival has set its course for another memorable trip into cinema — including the programming for its year-round component — and that ship sets sail this week. The festival’s focus on films “by, for, and about women” will bring everything from narrative features about women at various stages of life and the decisions that come with that territory to documentaries following the writers and readers of romance novels — Love Between the Covers covers the best-selling book genre out there — to a group of Palestinian female drag racers in Speed Sisters, who leaving their male counterparts in the rearview mirror. And that’s just the beginning. “Common threads of women’s strength and courage appear in these films,” says Barbara Bridges, founder of Women+Film. “Whatever their struggles, from romance to Chernobyl, we feel empathy and understanding for these women. We can even see some of ourselves in their stories.” Get your tickets at denverfilm.org.

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2. Cemetery of Splendour
Sie FilmCenter
Opens Friday, March 18

Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul (say that name three times fast) took the film-festival circuit by storm in 2010 with the equally tender and spooky Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives. The introduced a new voice in world cinema (though he’d been working steadily since 1993), one that toiled in magical realism but in such unique ways that it would be nearly impossible to really describe his plots or attempt to ape his style. Cemetery makes a great companion to Uncle Boonmee; it's a Thai drama about a sleeping sickness that overcomes a group of returning soldiers and a caring nurse who becomes enchanted with one in particular.  Get your tickets at denverfilm.org.

1. Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice
At a theater near you
Opening Thursday, March 24 

The last decade has seen the Marvel Comics film label rise to great heights of storytelling and universe-expanding, but DC Comics had yet to expand its world much beyond Batman and Superman. Still, their recent cinematic reboots proved to be the perfect launching pad for all the crazy characters that DC has to offer beyond the Caped Crusader and Dark Knight, so DC fans have been chomping at the bit to get the party started with Dawn of Justice. In it, a grizzled and jaded Batman takes offense at Superman’s “dangerous,” God-like abilities and sets out to stop him, somehow bringing Wonder Woman — finally making her feature film appearance ahead of her own epic coming in 2017 — into the mix and planting the seeds for the legendary Justice League. Pick your side, moviegoers, and start clearing a shelf for the tidal wave of DC entertainment headed our way. Get your tickets at fandango.com.

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