Primer: Why the Denver Film Festival Matters | Culture & Leisure

The first rule of cinema is: “Don’t talk in the cinema”. The first rule of the 45th Denver Film Festival will be: “Let’s talk at the cinema (as soon as the film is finished).”

The virtual experience is over. Denver Film is aiming to put the butts back in the seats and the party back in the festival with panels, parties and all kinds of in-person interactivity after two years of pandemic limitations. Oh, and 230 films never seen before in Denver, from Oscar contenders to homegrown movies to feature films from around the world.

“Having the opportunity to see a film that you wouldn’t normally see, and seeing it with other human beings in the same room as you is what makes film festivals special,” said Denver Film CEO, Kevin Smith, who is hoping for global participation. of about 25,000 from November 2 to 13. “You have the opportunity to immerse yourself in someone else’s world for 90 minutes and then talk about it with other people.”






Jamie Dornan brought “Belfast” to the Denver Film Festival in 2021 before it was widely released and earned an Oscar nomination for Best Picture.



Because it’s been a minute, and many Denver residents may be new to one of the city’s most enduring (and endearing) cultural traditions, I asked Smith and the festival’s artistic director , Matthew Campbell, to take a step back and introduce the festival and its place on the larger film festival circuit, to newbies. A starter, of sorts.

First of all, the Denver Film Festival lives in an ecosystem that begins with the glamorous appointments of the world of cinema: Sundance in January, Berlin in February, South by Southwest (SXSW) in March, Cannes in May, Tribeca in June and Telluride in September. (And Campbell, the lucky duck, can go to all of them.) These big league festivals are not for the movie-going public but for the distributors who are there to buy the films that then appear in your local theaters and on your streaming devices. continued.

“The hub of regional festivals like ours is our local community of moviegoers,” Campbell said. And Denver occupies the sweetest of sweet spots on the festival calendar. At the end of the year, the cream has risen to the top, and there are only a few weeks left before most of the nominees for the Best Picture of the Year Oscars are announced.

This means that Denver Film can select the best films that have emerged at other festivals throughout the year (as long as they have not yet been released). In recent years, Denver festival-goers have gotten glimpses of soon-to-be-nominated films like “Belfast,” “Diana” and “Knives Out” weeks before the rest of the country. This year’s list of contenders includes ‘She Said’, ‘The Whale’, ‘Empire of Light’, ‘Armageddon Time’, ‘Women Talking’, ‘The Inspection’ and ‘All the Beauty and the Bloodshed’.

“Our place on the calendar,” Smith said, “is extremely strategic.”

It’s also a very reciprocal relationship between regional festivals and film distributors. “Festivals like ours help build buzz for a given film before it hits theaters,” said Smith, who then fuels discussions about award nominations.

CB Stockfleth’s documentary on Elephant 6 Recording Company looks back at the early days of landmark bands of the 1990s, including Denver’s Dressy Bessy and Apples In Stereo, as well as Olivia Tremor Control, Neutral Milk Hotel, Elf Power, the Music Tapes, the Minders , Gerbils, Montreal, Beulah, Great Lakes and more. 7:15 p.m. November 11 and 1 p.m. November 12 at AMC 9+CO 10.


The Denver Film Festival’s nerve center is the Sie Film Center, and this year’s festival will be more entirely centralized around its surrounding retail complex, with the Tattered Cover Book Store hosting virtual reality programming and experiences. one-on-one immersive sessions previously held at the McNichols Building in Civic Center Park. The enclosed restaurant space next to the Tattered Cover will serve as the festival’s main hospitality lounge. Films will also screen at the new AMC cineplex at 826 Albion St., and red carpet screenings will once again take place at the opulent Ellie Caulkins Opera House downtown.

Here, some of your questions about what makes the Denver Film Festival special might be answered:

John Moore: How would you suggest a newcomer approach the festival?

Kevin Smith: This year we created the Mile High Pass, which gives you the perfect taste of the festival. It includes two red carpet movies, two special presentations and five general admission tickets of your choice, as well as access to our virtual reality offerings, lounges and some of the parties. This should give you a good overview. (Note: $450 for non-members.)

JM: For those who are festival regulars, what else is new for 2022?

Matt Campbell: We’re launching a new series called “Stories We Tell,” curated by Chris Getzan of History Colorado, which will launch discussions around four topics emerging from this year’s programming that touch on our daily lives: news, food , the arts and work.

JM: What is an example?

MC: One session will discuss how politics and climate change will influence the taste of your pizza in the future.







Denver Richard Kind Film Festival 2021

Veteran television and film actor Richard Kind was among the visitors to the 2021 Denver Film Festival.



JM: Who will win your most prestigious annual award, the John Cassavetes Award?

KS: We thought there was no good match for this award this year.

JM: Last year, the festival’s message was, “Virtual is here to stay,” but I don’t see home viewing as an option this year.

KS: It’s not, largely because the distributors just haven’t made a lot of those films available in a virtual format. They want people to come back to the theater. Our hope is to be able to bring back a virtual component next year.

JM: What are your designated specialty areas this year?

KS: It’s important for people to know that Denver Film operates year-round and that the festival highlights the work we do throughout the year, because all of the smaller festivals that we present each year have their place. within the Denver Film Festival as well. This includes CinemaQ, highlighting LGBTQ+ films; and the Dragon Boat Festival, highlighting contemporary Asian and Asian American cinema. This year we also launched our continuing series “Color of Conversation”. And this year there will be programs specifically featuring British/Irish, Italian, LatinX and French films.







Denver Film Festival 2021 Phamaly Imperfect

Local filmmakers Brian Malone and Regan Linton kicked off a year on the film festival circuit by bringing “Imperfect,” the story of the disability-friendly Denver Phamaly Theater Company, to the 2021 Denver Film Festival.



JM: What is the place of the local film community in all of this?

KS: It’s essential to what we do on a daily basis. We have a fiscal sponsorship program to help local filmmakers realize their projects, and we offer screening opportunities throughout the year. And we are always looking for new opportunities to help you.

MC: This year’s “The Holly,” a local documentary by Julian Rubinstein, is a very exciting opportunity for us to bring this important film to Denver audiences. We were very excited to turn this one into a full red carpet presentation at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House. But there are plenty of great local films on the program this year.







2022 Denver Film Festival Hunt

South Korea’s thriller ‘Hunt’ marks the directorial debut of ‘Squid Games’ star Lee Jung-jae




JM: What is your approach to international films?

MC: Each country submits a film to the Oscars. We pride ourselves on trying to schedule as many of these films as possible. This year, for example, we have “The Quiet Girl” from Ireland, “Broker” from South Korea, “Plan 75” from Japan and “Corsage” from Austria, among others.

JM: Conclusion: Why should a newcomer come to the Denver Film Festival this year?

MC: This will be your only chance to see some of the best films in the world that have been made in the past year. The Denver Film Festival truly brings the world to our doorstep. You will be introduced to different communities, cultures and eye-opening views on life. And it’s an entertaining experience.

LOOK WHO’S COMING TO DENVER







2022 Denver Film Festival Guests

From left to right: Sheila McCarthy, Mark Mothersbaugh, Mario Martone, Gabriella Cowperthwaite, Raúl Castillo, Ravi Kapoor, James Benning and Samuel D. Hunter


  • Writer-director Mario Martone will receive the festival’s Italian Filmmaker Award at the Nov. 4, 3:30 p.m. screening of “The King of Laughter” at Sie FilmCenter.
  • Gabriella Cowperthwaite will discuss her documentary “The Grab,” which exposes nations grabbing farmland and water far from their own borders at 7:15 p.m. Nov. 4 and 4 p.m. Nov. 5 at AMC 9+CO 10 .
  • James Benning: This year’s Denver Film Festival Stan Brakhage Vision Award premieres at 7 p.m. Nov. 6 at the Sie FilmCenter.
  • Raúl Castillo will receive the festival’s Excellence in Actor award at the Nov. 9 7 p.m. screening of “The Inspection” at the Denver Botanic Gardens.
  • Film composer and DEVO frontman Mark Mothersbaugh will talk about music and film composition at 7 p.m. on November 11 at the Denver Botanic Gardens.
  • Director Ravi Kapoor will discuss his Wes Anderson-esque comedy “Four Samosas” at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 11, 1:45 p.m. Nov. 12 at AMC 9+CO 10.
  • Samuel D. Hunter will receive the festival’s Outstanding Writing Award at the Nov. 12 4 p.m. screening of “The Whale” at the Denver Botanic Gardens.
  • Actress, writer and director Sheila McCarthy will receive the festival’s Career Achievement Award at the 8 p.m. screening of “Women Talking” on November 12 at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House.

About Monty S. Maynard

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