Arts and Culture

SeriesFest Brings Stevie Wonder, Shondaland and TV Pilots to Denver

We’re living in a golden age of serial television. From Game of Thrones to Veep to the endless stream of new and captivating series on Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu, there is no shortage of things to watch. And episodic storytelling just keeps getting better.

Sadly, in Colorado, a state with uninspiring film incentives, the artists leading this renaissance hardly have a presence — except when SeriesFest, an annual international television festival, comes to town and celebrates the best of the genre. This year’s festival, the fifth in the series, will shine the spotlight on companies, artists and studios that are pushing the boundaries of the format with new technologies and taking creative risks.

The festival opens with a screening of Starz thriller The Rook on Friday, June 21. Other screenings include CNBC Prime’s unscripted series Cash Pad and the Outdoor Channel’s My Outdoor Family on Saturday, June 22; Power, Influence and Hip-Hop: The Remarkable Rise of So So Def on Sunday, June 23; and Participant Media’s America to Me on Tuesday, June 25. The centerpiece event of SeriesFest will be a Monday, June 24, performance at Red Rocks Amphitheatre by the legendary Stevie Wonder, accompanied by a screening of a surprise show. But here’s the real surprise: This is Stevie Wonder’s first time on the Red Rocks stage!

Panels will offer aspiring directors and producers the chance to learn from pros in the industry. Legendary Scandal producer Shonda Rhimes’s company, Shondaland, will host Shondaland 2.0, a panel looking at the ins and outs of that company, which will be awarding an up-and-comer the chance to shadow a director during an upcoming production as part of the Women Directing Mentorship initiative. SeriesFest will also host its annual pilot competition, in which independent TV producers’ latest fare is judged by panels including studio execs, film critics, directors, actors and more.

Maybe, despite our lack of a real industry in Colorado, a few locals will find inspiration in all of this and begin to take risks with serial television right here at home. But don’t hold your breath: Unless the political establishment decides to seriously reconsider how to make Colorado a competitive place to make movies, the industry will keep shooting elsewhere.

SeriesFest runs June 21 to 26; most screenings and panels will be held at the Sie FilmCenter, 2510 Colfax Avenue. For more information, go to
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Kyle Harris has been Westword’s Culture Editor since 2016, writing about the arts, music and film.
Contact: Kyle Harris