The 31st Starz Denver Film Festival is in full swing and, this year, I’ve had a very inside look at all the behind-the-scenes action. With my new job at the Denver Film Society, I’ve been able to watch this year’s fest grow from a tiny seed into a gigantic tree of cinematic enjoyment. (If that wasn’t enough of a hippie metaphor for you, I don’t know what is!)
Opening Night kicked off with The Brothers Bloom, a new film starring Adrien Brody, Rachel Weisz and Mark Ruffalo from director Rian Johnson, who readers will remember from Brick, a fantastic original take on film noir.
Big Night was equally impressive with Slumdog Millionaire, a film that has received rave reviews from nearly every critic. The red carpet that evening featured a large selection of guests including actor Richard Jenkins, Dr. Marci Bowers, star of the documentary Trinidad, world-renowned cinematographer Wally Pfister and Ari Lehman, the original Jason Voorhees from Friday the 13th among others. As the stars entered the Ellie Caulkins Opera House, dancers performed a Bollywood-inspired number on the red carpet.
The festival isn’t just red carpet screenings either.
For 11 days the Starz FilmCenter is transformed into a cinematic paradise with screenings, discussion panels, and in-person Q&A sessions with directors and stars.
One of my personal highlights was the world premiere of His Name Was Jason: 30 Years of Friday the 13th, a documentary that examines the entire franchise and, of course, all those who have appeared as one of films most famous murderers through out the years.
The festival experience was further elevated with the captivating He/She and Us discussion panel. The panel featured PJ Raval and Jay Hodges, directors of Trinidad, Dr. Marci Bowers, star of the film and leading gender reassignment surgeon, Kimberly Reed, director of the moving autobiographical film Prodigal Sons, and Matt Kailey of OutFront Colorado. The panelists fielded questions and engaged the audience on topics like gender, sexuality, and even the recent decision about Proposition 8. The audience was so enthralled that the panel ran long and many continued chatting with the filmmakers in the lobby.
There are still five days left in the festival before the Closing Night screening of Last Chance Harvey, starring Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson, on November 22nd. All film lovers are strongly encouraged to make an appearance. The experience is so unique and enjoyable that you’ll be talking about it for years to come and it will surely convert any first-timers into full on festival addicts.
Check out the schedule and descriptions of the film at denverfilm.org/festival.