I was thrilled to learn that a few films from Denver Film Festival’s extensive program will screen at the Lyric Cinema in Fort Collins. The Lyric has incredible programming already, but they’re doing a great job of including local and traveling film festival screenings. The Front Range is lucky to have them. You can skip the drive to Denver and still catch one of my favorite festival films there.
Selecting what films to see at a film festival can be a daunting task. This year’s Denver Film Festival features International Programs (Brasil, CineLatinX, UK/Ireland, French films, Italian films). CinemaQ highlights Queer Cinema, Women + Films hosts seminars and lunch, and there’s Culinary Cinema, Spotlight on Colorado, and SeriesFest. Plus special guests, Virtual Reality, panels, theater, and parties. There’s even a silent film from Russia with local favorite’s Devotchka supplying the soundtrack! The festival starts with a tribute to longtime DFF Artistic Director (taken from us too soon), Brit Withey, with a screening of some of his favorite films on Oct 30th. So what programs should you choose and where to start?
The Opening Night of the 42nd Denver Film Festival was a wicked good time at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House. Daniel Craig stars as the pipe-smoking sleuth in this Agatha Christie-styled Who Done It, Knives Out. A star-studded cast — Chris Evans, Toni Collette, Jamie Lee Curtis, Christopher Plummer, and others — have fun with devious motives and suspicious backstories. Director Rian Johnson has long been an Indie favorite. Brick(2005) is one of my favorite films. With this big-budget mystery and the Christmas release of The Rise of Skywalker, Rian Johnson is a rising star, and I wonder if he’s feeling the pressure of a universe of Star Wars fans.
There are many films I’m looking forward to seeing at this year’s DFF. There are films I missed at other festivals: like Motherless Brooklyn, Edward Norton’s directorial debut, Cunningham, a brilliant documentary about Iconic choreographer Merce Cunnigham, Clemency with an emotional performance by Alfre Woodard and Marriage Story, the latest from Noah Baumbachthat’s receiving accolades for both of the film’s stars, Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver. I’m excited that DFF is screening WOMEN MAKE FILM: A NEW ROAD MOVIE THROUGH CINEMA, Mark Cousin’s 14-hour documentary screening over several days in Parts One-Five.
Three films were my favorites at other festivals that I consider must-see movies. 17 Blocks wowed me at MountainFilm this year, and it won the Best Documentary Feature. What could’ve been first-time filmmaker, Davy Rothbart elevate an oft-told tale of family dysfunction. This is a decade’s long collaboration with intimate footage shot by the children and adults–all willing to bare all to bring this story of addiction and gun violence and, ultimately, hope and resilience to the world. A challenging story that leaves you celebrating the human spirit.
Tickets: Wed, 11/6, Fri, 11/8, Sat, 11/9
At once moving and mysterious, Portrait of a Lady on Fire (Portrait de la jeune fille en feu) has a wonderful soundtrack, gorgeous cinematography, and an unusual love story. An 18th-century French portrait painter must paint a young woman’s image without her knowledge, and when romance blossoms, she must use her talent, knowing she will lose her lover to another. A sublime romance; French writer/director Céline Sciamma won the Best Screenplay award at Cannes. Gorgeous and lingers in the mind.
Tickets and trailer: Thu, Oct 31st & Sun, Nov 2nd @ the Sie Film Center and Sat, Nov 1st @ The Lyric
One film that I wasn’t expecting to enjoy, The Two Popes, had me fascinated and engrossed in this tale of two diametrically opposed Catholic Popes. Played by the powerhouse talents of Anthony Hopkins and Jonathon Pryce, Fernando Meirelles directs this tale of two men with very different aspirations coming together to change the direction of the Catholic Church. Based on the real Pope Francis and Pope Benedict– these intimate conversations are fraught with tension, yet comical at times and filled with the urgency to reach an understanding. An insider look at how powerful men of the cloth might communicate away from the pomp and circumstance. Fascinating.
Tickets and trailer: Red Carpet Presentation ($30), 11/9 @ 2pm
If you’re looking for something fun and light, I enjoyed The Aeronauts with Felicity Jones and Eddy Redmayne. The Centerpiece film, Waves, has an unusual structure and interesting soundtrack. It’s worth seeing to discuss with your family, and the director, Trey Edward Shults, will be on-hand to discuss his film, and he’s a director to watch. Varda by Agnès is a fascinating documentary by and about the delightful and groundbreaking French Director. Even if you don’t know Agnès Varda’s work, you’ll learn so much about filmmaking.
Spend some time looking at the schedule for the 42nd Denver Film Festival; there are some ticket packages that make it more affordable. And plan your cinema celebration Oct 30th thru Nov 10th.
The November DFF schedule for the Lyric is found here.