George Hickenlooper, RIP: Starz Denver Film Festival director says fest to be dedicated to him

Saturday brought news about the shocking death of George Hickenlooper, Mayor John Hickenlooper's filmmaking cousin, who was in Denver to screen his latest flick, Casino Jack, as part of the Starz Denver Film Festival.

The show will go on, says festival director Britta Erickson, with at least one more Casino Jack screening added -- and the fest as a whole will be dedicated to George.

According to Erickson, she learned about George's death on Saturday morning from the mayor. She deems it a "tragic, tragic, tragic loss" that's shaken her and other staffers at the festival, where George's films have been featured "for the past nineteen years," she points out.

"We've given a lot of thought about what we're going to do now," Erickson continues, "and we've decided we're going to go ahead and screen Casino Jack on Thursday as planned," as part of the grand-opening celebration for the Denver FilmCenter/Colfax, located in the complex that also houses the Tattered Cover and Twist & Shout. "That's what he would have wanted. He would have wanted us to show this film that he was so excited about to this Denver audience he loved so much. But now, it's going to be a tribute to George."

Right now, particulars for the initial screening are in flux. Erickson knows veteran festival coordinator Ron Henderson will offer a tribute, and Donald Zuckerman, George's longtime producer, is flying in for the occasion -- and Morning, the other flick slated for the Denver FilmCenter/Colfax's debut, will be shown as scheduled.

Predictably, the first screening of Casino Jack has been sold out for a while -- and a second one, taking place on Friday, November 5, also at the Denver FilmCenter/Colfax, followed suit. However, Erickson confirms that a third screening has now been slated for 7 p.m. Sunday, November 14, at the King Center. "It'll be the last screening of the entire festival," she notes.

Also a possibility: Erickson is trying to line up a showing of Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse, a 1991 documentary about the making of Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now that earned George an Emmy award, among other prizes. Nothing firm yet, but Erickson's doing everything she can to make it happen.

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George was also on tap to attend the festival's main opening night, this Wednesday at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House, where the main attraction is Rabbit Hole; director John Cameron Mitchell and actor Aaron Eckhart will be on hand to talk about the picture, which also co-stars Nicole Kidman. The evening will focus on Rabbit Hole, but Erickson knows George won't be far from attendees' thoughts.

"The festival is a celebration of film and a celebration of filmmakers," she says. "And it's going to be a celebration of George and his filmmaking, too."

Here's the trailer for Casino Jack:

More from our Politics archive: "John Hickenlooper gets boost from filmmaker & cousin George Hickenlooper, sans F-bombs."

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