Again this year, Starz Denver Film Festival artistic director Brit Withey is offering his must-see picks for each day of the fest -- including many flicks that movie lovers might otherwise miss amid the flood of silver-screen goodies.
The Fairy Directed by Dominique Abel, Fiona Gordon, Bruno Romy 7 p.m. Friday, November 4 Starz FilmCenter
"The Fairy is a French film -- a really, really charming throwback sort of film, to the era of true physical comedy," Withey says. "It's made by a three-person writer-director-actor team, and it's wonderful, even though the story's almost inconsequential.
"One guy's a hotel night clerk and this woman comes in and says she's a fairy and will grant his next three wishes. He asks for a moped and gasoline for life, but he can't think of a third wish -- and it kind of goes from there. But it's all a set-up for these story bits that have interludes, even dance sequences. It's the kind of film you just don't see any more -- the perfect kind of film for a festival."
Once Upon a Time in Anatolia Directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan 8 p.m. Saturday, November 5 Starz FilmCenter
"This is a Turkish film, and the director, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, has had many films in the festival over the years," Withey notes. "He's probably the most famous Turkish director -- a remarkable, moody filmmaker.
"The film centers around a murder and the search for the body of the murder victim, and who actually committed the crime. The first forty minutes are so are spent in the dark, with five people jammed into a car driving around the Turkish countryside, and stopping to talk about the murder. Everything's apparently lit by a couple of car headlights, but the film has a luminosity despite it being physically dark. It's really engaging. The director is a master of juxtaposing moments of realistic dialogue against this beautiful setting."
The Bengali Detective Directed by Phil Cox Noon Sunday, November 6 Starz FilmCenter
"This is a completely unique documentary," Withey enthuses. "It tells the story of this slightly inept detective agency in India that's on the cusp of making it big. Up until this point, they've been busting counterfeit shampoo rings and things of that nature, but they're just getting a murder case, and they're earnestly trying to do some good work. And they take their work very seriously, but they also like to have fun. On the weekends, they have a sort of dance team, and they enter these contests -- and they're terrible.
"That's really funny -- but there's another side of the film that follows the lead detective, whose wife is dying. He loves his wife so much, and it's so apparent -- and there's nothing he can do for her. She has an incurable disease, so it's just waiting it all out. And they have a young son.
"It's one of the most unique films in the festival -- both heartwarming and heartbreaking. You can't walk away without being affected in every way possible."
Once Upon a Time in Anatolia
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More from our Television & Film archive: "Starz Denver Film Festival 2011: Melancholia had me praying for the world to end -- and soon."