Musical wunderkind Paul Buscarello has a way with improvising fresh, unique scores for some of cinema’s silent classics, and he’s reinvigorated such gems as The Phantom Carriage and Pandora’s Box with a young sound that polishes the dust right off the screen. His talents aren’t tied to a specific venue in town, but woe be to the place that doesn’t explore a monthly series with this young master.

John Golter brings great local shorts and feature films to light at Glob — a DIY superspace and performance venue — once a month. This fresh series has heralded some quiet geniuses, serving as a great place for amateur filmmakers to work through their burgeoning visions with the help of an audience of eager viewers ready to offer up advice or admiration.

Best Colorado Film That Doesn't Overdo Colorado

The Frame

For some reason, many Colorado filmmakers tend to render their work dull by framing our city's landmarks and scenic vistas in ways that distract from the narrative at hand and feel more like tourism promos. But Jamin Winan's latest film, The Frame, along with his previous Colorado productions, actually transforms our streets, neighborhoods and views — from factories and refineries to downtown architecture — into imaginative and fantastical worlds, all without trying to cram a Colfax sign into every shot.

Director Heather Dalton put seven years of loving care into the film Neal Cassady: The Denver Years, an in-depth look at the manic Beat icon's early days as a boy on Denver's skid row and his less-publicized life as a family man. The film, which premiered last year at the Sie FilmCenter, is packed with extensive interviews with key figures in Cassady's life, including ex-wife Carolyn Cassady and children John Allen and Jami. The Denver Years adds a new layer of lore to the canon of Beat history and a glimpse into the real Neal Cassady (aka On the Road's Dean Moriarty), who hid behind his own charisma.

Alamo Drafthouse Cinema

What happens when a Hugo Award-winning writer and a Denver Comic Con co-founder join programming forces? Out-of-this-world bliss. Jason Heller and Frank Romero, respectively, are the overlords of a monthly sci-fi series at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema that blasts past the usual fare and dives far into the fringes of the genre with films like Videodrome, Krull, Dark Star and Heavy Metal — offerings that deserve a stamp in any true fan's passport. Heller and Romero introduce each film with a deep discussion, taking you into the far recesses of cinema's time-and-space continuum.

Horror films certainly get their due in Denver, but no one screens or curates them as lovingly as Theresa Mercado. Dressed in full costume and usually toting handmade collectibles for her guests to take home, Mercado brings excitement to every spooky screening, no matter where it is. Although currently looking for a new home for her Cruel Spring/Summer/Autumn/Winter series after the recent closing of Globeville bar Crash 45, she's busy organizing pop-up horror screenings elsewhere in town.

Alamo Drafthouse Cinema

It takes a quick wit and a steady hand to lead one of the beloved Quote-Alongs or '80s Sing-Along Dance Parties at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema. Megan Miles skillfully encourages huge crowds of strangers to quote along to their favorite films and utilize props en masse. She also gets boozy '80s lovers to sing at the top of their lungs and dance their asses off at the series of regular events hosted by the Littleton movie house.

Craft brewing differs from many other industries in that rather than fighting each other for customers, beer makers typically offer assistance and advice to their would-be competitors. While it doesn't always work, that spirit permeates the craft-brewing community as a whole, and it's one of the things that makes Collaboration Fest so special. Founded in 2014 by the Colorado Brewers Guild and Imbibe Denver as a way to celebrate the aforementioned bonhomie, the fest showcases one-off beers that Colorado breweries have collaborated on with their in-state peers or with breweries in other states or countries. The first event was such a success that the second one, which took place in March, had to be moved to Sports Authority Field at Mile High, where drinkers got a chance to sample more than 75 cooperative, collaborative creations.

Readers' choice: Top Taco Denver

Over two big, well-done days each June, PrideFest brings all of Denver together in the correct way by offering just the right wares, foods and a whole lot of entertainment throughout Civic Center Park. Last year, more than 365,000 people turned out — many of them in colorful get-ups and costumes — to show everyone what's so great about having such a bustling gay community. PrideFest, which also features a parade from Cheesman Park to Civic Center as well as family-centered activities, will mark its fortieth anniversary in Denver this year, and we're expecting it to be the best celebration yet.

Readers' choice: Great American Beer Festival

Union Station

The idea doesn't sound that good on paper: Take one part bus station, one part LoDo bar and one part trendy restaurant row and smash them together under the hundred-year-old ceilings at Union Station. But so far, the formula has been a success — and custom-made for quality free entertainment. Take a seat at one of those big chairs in the lobby and watch as harried or bemused travelers with rolling suitcases try to make their way around drunken twenty-somethings searching for the bathrooms. Or try to guess whether that family of four is running to catch a bus out to the airport or to get into Stoic & Genuine before the hostess gives away their table. On just about any night, Union Station is alive and well — and that's worth the price of admission alone. And when warm weather hits, watch for kids from across town to flock to the outdoor water feature, where they'll frolic all day in the next best thing to a beach.

Reader's choice: People-watching

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