It’s early November. There are blizzard warnings, 10-12 inches of snow, and temperatures dipping into the teens. But ask any rabid Denver cinefile and they’ll gladly tell you that this is all par for the course. Quite simply, no better time to go indoors and enjoy the warmth and wonder of the movies. Especially those offered up by our very own Starz Denver Film Festival (SDFF).
Kicking off tonight at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House, the 34th Annual SDFF opens with a deeply sentimental, transatlantic romance called Like Crazy. Written and directed by Drake Doremus (Douchebag), the film conveys the story of Jacob, a British college student who falls head over heels for an American student named Anna. Their relationship is soon put to the test, however, when Anna’s visa runs out and she must move out of the country.
Starring Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones, Like Crazy is an honest and modern depiction of first love, from the joyous and soulful moments of togetherness to the heartbreaking hurdles of separation. Note: Tissues may be required.
Shortly after (November 3rd), the Denver Film Center on Colfax will open its doors with a red carpet presentation of Melancholia, a deeply meditative film that follows the lives of two sisters (Kirsten Dunst and Charlotte Gainsbourg) struggling for meaning in their lives and relationships as a new planet approaches the Earth. Directed by controversial Danish provacateur, Lars von Trier (Dogville, Dancer in the Dark), Melancholia represents one of his finest works – an apocalyptic journey with many moods and depressions. Not to mention, one jaw dropping finale.
Then, on another Big Night (Saturday, November 5th) at the festival, Academy Award winner, Alexander Payne (About Schmidt, Sideways) presents the emotionally, complex dramedy: The Descendants. In this film, a Hawaiian land baron, Matt King (George Clooney), takes his daughters on a unique road trip after discovering that his wife, currently hospitalized after a tragic boating accident, was having an affair. With lots of dark humor, The Descendants foregoes cliché and stands out as an emotionally satisfying, yet odd detour through a tropical paradise.
Note: The Descendants star, Judy Greer, is this year’s recipient of the John Cassavetes Award.
And rounding out the festival (November 12) on Closing Night will be a presentation of The Artist, a sensational throwback to the silent era of film. Directed by French auteur, Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist is a cinematic masterpiece on many levels – dramatically and historically. In Hollywood 1927, silent movie superstar George Valentin has a difficult time adjusting to the future. Namely, talking pictures. Meanwhile, a young dancing sensation, Peppy Miller, appears to be a star on the rise, ready for her moment of fame. With nods to such classics as The Jazz Singer, Singin’ in the Rain, and Metropolis, The Artist acts as a movie within a movie, depicting the beauty and bittersweet end of an era.
Visually stunning, imaginative, and cleverly scored and choreographed, The Artist is the perfect festival finale.
In between all the red carpet events, the Starz Denver Film Festival will feature a collection of more than 250 films from over 47 different countries from around the world, including a multi-film presentation on South Korean cinema. Plus, several interactive panel discussions, like “The World Through 3-D Glasses,” “Do Ask. Do Tell,” and “On Controversy and Character;” a celebration of the art and achievement of Women + Film; the best lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender films in Cinema Q; and plenty of chills and thrills at The Watching Hour.
Special appearances include: James Cromwell (The Artist), Judy Greer (The Descendants), Drake Doremus (Like Crazy), Alan Cumming (Josie and the Pussycats), Mark Duplass (Jeff Who Lives at Home), country sensation, Chely Wright (Wish Me Away), and rising young star, Adepero Oduye (Pariah).
A Rocky Mountain institution since 1978, the SDFF accentuates the positive aspects of moviemaking, from the artistry to the culture to the audiences that watch and enjoy the magic on the screen.
Hope to see you there!
Mark Sells, “The Reel Deal”
For tickets and more information, visit: 34th Annual Starz Denver Film Festival
Like Crazy - Trailer
Melancholia - Trailer
The Descendants - Trailer
The Artist - Trailer