Starz Denver Film Festival: Artistic director Brit Withey's must-see picks for November 5-7

Again this year, Starz Denver Film Festival artistic director Brit Withey is offering his must-see picks for each day of the fest -- flicks that movie lovers might otherwise miss amid the flood of silver-screen goodies.

Below, he describes his choices for November 5-7: The Crossing, Roll Out, Cowboy and My Tehran For Sale.

The Crossing Directed by Selim Demirdelen Friday, November 5, 6:30 p.m. Starz FilmCenter

"It's a film from Turkey," Withey says. "It's a really lovely, but lonely and sad, film about a man [played by Güven Kirac] who works in an office and pretends he has a family. He has a call-service call him at every at the same time every day, and he pretends it's his daughter calling. But he doesn't have a family.

"I don't want to get into why that is. You learn about that over the course of the film. But it's ultimately a redeeming film. He emerges from this sad little life, and that's part of the beauty of the film. It starts out in a certain way, but it doesn't end that way."

Roll Out, Cowboy Directed by Elizabeth Lawrence Saturday, November 6, 9:15 p.m. Denver FilmCenter/Colfax

"The subject is what really makes this film unique," Withey says. "It's a documentary about a guy named Chris 'Sandman' Sand, and he's a rapping cowboy. The film follows him around the small town where he lives in North Dakota, and it also follows him on tour as he plays some small bars in the West.

"A lot of people don't know how to take him. Some people love him, and some people are slightly confused, because he plays a lot of traditional Western music, but he also writes a lot of his own hip-hop music as well. But he really loves the town where he lives. He buys his first house for a thousand dollars and wants to fix it up and stay there. So it's an ode to small-town America, but it's also very humorous, because he's a funny guy.

"One of the great things about the screening," Withey adds, "is that the director, Elizabeth Lawrence, is going to be there, and Sandman is going to be there, too -- and he's going to perform. The whole programming team is really excited about it."

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My Tehran For Sale Directed by Granaz Moussavi Sunday, November 7, 6:45 p.m. Starz FilmCenter

"We're doing a focus on Iranian cinema as part of the festival," Withey says. "And a lot of Iranian films most people are able to see are very pastoral and take place in rural settings -- and many of them have children as protagonists. But this is something different. It's very urban, very twenty-something, very fast-paced.

"It's set in the underground clubs of Tehran and even features some drug use -- and I honestly don't know how the filmmakers were able to get it made. It's my understanding that the footage was smuggled out of the country, but I don't know how they were able to shoot it without drawing attention. It's completely different from the Tehran most people think about. The characters could be in Berlin; it feels like a European city. It's a very urgent, very now Iranian film of a kind that I've never been exposed to."

Page down to see trailers of all three of Brit's picks -- and check Westword throughout the Starz Denver Film Festival for more of his daily recommendations:

The Crossing:

Roll Out, Cowboy:

My Tehran For Sale:

More from our Television & Film archive: "George Hickenlooper, RIP: Starz Denver Film Festival director says fest to be dedicated to him."

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