No surprise that Brit Withey points to the much ballyhooed Precious as tonight's selection -- one so choice that every seat at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House is already spoken for. After all, "It's the only film that's playing tonight," he notes with a laugh. But he sees the opportunity to open the fest with it as a coup -- one landed with the help of some Colorado connections.
The first fest staffer to catch Precious was festival director Britta Erickson, who eyeballed it early this year at the Sundance Film Festival. "This was before any of the Oprah Winfrey-Tyler Perry stuff happened," says Withey, referencing the decision of the aforementioned pair to act as Precious' executive producers/presenters in an effort to bring the movie to the widest audience possible.
In fact, Withey goes on, "We'd been circling the film for a long time," knowing that director Lee Daniels' adaptation of the Sapphire novel Push had been produced by a pair of locals, Sarah Siegel-Magness and Gary Magness. As such, lining up the film for opening night "made so much sense -- and we kind of lucked out in a way, because a lot of times films that play at Sundance have been released by now."
In the last week or so, Precious has debuted at a few theaters around the country, but it's yet to open widely. Tonight will be the first opportunity for Denverites to see what the buzz is about.
"This is one of the strongest opening-night films we've had since I've been working here," notes Withey, who's been on this particular job for fourteen years. "It's an extraordinary movie -- really, really powerful. I think it's going to be the sort of film people are going to be impressed with when they walk out of there. It's not fluff by any stretch of the imagination."
Look for full coverage of opening night tomorrow. In the meantime, check out the Precious trailer below: