The Starz Denver Film Festival might be your best chance to see the Oscar contenders, the big-name indie films and movies with Sundance logos all over them, but if you're looking for something a bit more odd, you're best bet is going to be the Denver Underground Film Festival, which kicks off on Friday night at 7 p.m. at the Unitarian Society of Denver, 1400 Lafayette Street, and will be running classic and new avant-garde and foreign films.
"The goal of DUFF is three-fold," says curator Eduardo Mendez. "It's to provide independent filmmakers an opportunity to showcase their vision to Denver audiences, to give our audiences a film program that is unique and will not be seen together again anywhere else, and to keep the tradition of underground and avant-garde film shows alive."
A quick glance at the full program quickly reveals Mendez's vision for the festival -- these are films you just won't see together ever again, in fact, you probably won't be afforded a lot of opportunities to see them ever. While a few names might ring a bell for non-film buffs, Andy Warhol, for instance, gets a whole section, as does Boyd Rice, most of these films are entirely out there, altogether bizarre and wholly delightful. They also range in origin from Nederland to Uruguay, providing a unique look at films from around the globe.
"Filmmakers that look for underground film fests already have a certain gift for bending and breaking the rules of cinema," says Mendez. "The atmosphere at DUFF is always of curiosity before the show and amazement after the show." Alongside the programming spotlighting modern films, three separate special programs will also be running. On Friday and Saturday night, the above mentioned Andy Warhol gets his block with three films, Scenes from the Life of Andy Warhol, Moment, and Match Girl. Friday audiences will also be treated with a celebration of contemporary Spanish cinema, which features four mid-length films. Then on Sunday, everything closes with Boyd Rice: Iconoclast, a film that documents the controversial performer and experimentalist across 240 minutes of absolute insanity (you can look for our interview with director Larry Wessel over on Backbeat on Friday).
You won't be completely in the dark if you're new to avant-garde cinema though, most of the films get an introduction, including not just a bit about the filmmaker, but also about the techniques and style. While the programming itself might make it look like insider-baseball, the festival makes an effort to open its arms to newbies and veterans alike.
You can grab tickets for $10 per night ($8 for students), or snag passes for all three days, or just two online or at the door.