Film and TV

Starz Denver Film Festival 2011: Five red carpet events, Big Night screening of The Descendants

Next Monday, October 17, the Starz Denver Film Festival's website will go live with the entire 2011 lineup, and it's a hefty one: a whopping 260 flicks will unspool November 2-13.

But today, fest executive director Tom Botelho offers us a preview of the highest profile movies, all of which will get the red-carpet treatment.

"Our theme this year is 'Roll Out the Red,' which is really a celebration of our red-carpet events," Botelho says. "We'll have five this year, including three at the Ellie," aka the Ellie Caulkins Opera House in the Denver Center for the Performing Arts complex.

The cinematic journey begins on November 2 with Like Crazy, a Grand Jury Prize winner at this year's Sundance Film Festival; it was directed by Drake Doremus and stars Anton Yelchin, Felicity Jones and Jennifer Lawrence. The following night's red-carpet selection at the Denver FilmCenter/Colfax, has not yet been named. But Friday, the L2 Events Center/Colfax will feature screenings of Wish Me Away, a documentary about country singer Chely Wright, who shocked the country music establishment by coming out as a lesbian.

"Chely will be there in person," Botelho says, adding, "It's a very powerful documentary -- get-your-handkerchiefs-out time."

And as if that's not enough, the Saturday, November 5 showcase at the Ellie features The Descendants, the latest film by director Alexander Payne, of Election and Sideways fame. The picture is expected to generate Academy Award nominations for, among others, director Payne and star George Clooney.

"That's four red carpets in a row," Botelho points out, and one more will follow. The closing night film is The Artist, a silent film (yes, you read right) from France, which earned Jean Dujardin the Best Actor award at this year's Cannes Film Festival.

These films will grab the lion's share of attention, no doubt, and that's understandable in light of the Denver fest's knack for picking winners. Last year, Botelho notes that Black Swan and multiple nominee 127 Hours played to packed houses in Denver before going on to rack up multiple Oscar nominations (and, in the case of Black Swan's Natalie Portman, a Best Actress victory). But Botelho is equally excited about the 250-plus other movies on the bill -- a considerable boost from last year. "The festival is much larger because we have more screens," he says. "We'll have the Starz FilmCenter and the Denver FilmCenter/Colfax, which increases our capacity by three screens, and that allows us to do a lot more films. And it's not just quantity, but quality. There's really a tremendous amount of good films. That's what this whole festival is about."

More announcements -- like who will be walking that red carpet -- are on the way. In the meantime, check out trailers of the four red-carpet films announced to date.

Like Crazy:

Wish Me Away:

The Descendants:

The Artist:

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More from our Television & Film archive: "Starz Denver Film Festival: James Franco, Aron Ralston make 127 Hours go by just like that."

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts