The Reel Deal: Trading Spaces

This week, the Denver Film Society (DFS) announced plans to relocate its film center, formerly the Starz Film Center on the Auraria Campus, to the Lowenstein Theater Complex on East Colfax between Tattered Cover and Twist & Shout Records. The move, which will begin on November 4th at the start of the Starz Denver Film Festival, represents a positive attempt to revitalize the community around East High School, spread film education and cultural programming to a wider audience, and establish itself as one of the premiere cultural arts and entertainment centers in the region.

The Lowenstein Theater Complex

Says David Charmatz, DFS chairman, “Our new home is in an incredibly vibrant neighborhood and is within walking distance of 50,000 potential customers. We’re looking forward to the opportunities this location will present in terms of educational and cultural programming with our neighbors, especially the students and staff at East High School.”

More directly, says DFS Executive Director Tom Botelho: “It’s not only a great opportunity; it’s a great economic deal as well.”

And in this economy, how can one argue with a “great economic deal?” In fact, a lot can be said for leaner and meaner; however, on paper, it’s worth noting that the new Denver Film Center/Colfax doesn’t exactly feature a dramatic improvement in operations.

For starters:

  • Location: The Auraria Campus was a hop, skip, and a jump from the light rail, offered free parking, and had easy access to I-25. The new location will offer free parking, but isn’t as commuter friendly.
  • Screens: The Lowenstein Theater will operate 3 screens compared to the 8 screens at the Starz Film Center. This, of course, translates to 60% less programming.
  • Facility: The new facility is comprised of 11,250 square feet in stark contrast to the old, which occupied 32,329 square feet. As a result of the limited size, the new facility will have no room for the offices of the Denver Film Society, which will have to operate separately out of the Auraria location until late 2011 when its lease comes up and it too has to relocate.
  • Audience: I love the mantra, “if you build it, they will come.” But let’s keep in mind that the previous tenants, the Neighborhood Flix Cinema & Cafe, attempted the same strategy, opening in November 2007, only to close just 11 months later.
Diane Lane stars in "Secretariat"

Still, with any move, there’s the intangible excitement of a new beginning. And despite any shortcomings, the Denver Film Society has proven its resiliency over the years. Since 1978, the organization has endured many changes in leadership, changes in funding, and changes in location. And still continues to entertain and educate Denver audiences with the very best in film, from its award winning film festival to special programs like Film on the Rocks, Cinema Q, and The Watching Hour.

As for the Denver Film Center? It may have fewer screens, fewer square feet, and may not be as easy to get to, but you can bet when the red carpet rolls out during the 33rd Starz Denver Film Festival (November 3-14), we’ll be there.


-Mark Sells, “The Reel Deal”

This Week’s Picks:

  • Secretariat – Sure. We’ve seen excellent horse racing films before a la Seabiscuit. And we know how this one ends – the first Triple Crown winner in 25 years and possibly, the greatest racehorse of all time. But there’s something magical and uplifting about true stories that melts even the hardest of hearts. In Secretariat, the focus is on the human side – Penny Chenery, the daughter of a Virginia horse owner who knows nothing about horse-racing and takes on the male dominated sport. And her supporting cast – husband Jack Tweedy (Dylan Walsh) and trainer, Lucien Lauren (John Malkovich). Written with authenticity and great character complexity, this film stands as a crowning achievement.
James Franco & Aaron Tveit in "Howl"
  • Buried – Paul Conroy is a truck driver working for a private contractor in Iraq and on a routine delivery, goes unconscious. When he wakes, he finds himself 6 feet underground, buried in a coffin, with only a lighter and a cell phone for comfort. The story that follows is frighteningly possible and expertly delivered by director, Rodrigo Cortes. In particular, action and suspense is created simplistically, without the use of special effects or external camera work. Most of the film takes place within the tiniest of spaces. And by far, represents one of Ryan Reynolds’ finest performances.  

Film Event on the Radar:

  • HowlOctober 12th at the Boulder Theater. Depicts the story of Allen Ginsberg, a young beat poet in search of love and liberty, who helped break down societal barriers involving public obscenity with his groundbreaking work, Howl, in 1957. The film stars James Franco as Ginsberg and features Jon Hamm, David Strathairn, Alan Alda, and Jeff Daniels. And following the screening, a panel of faculty and alumni from the Kerouac school will discuss their experiences with Ginsberg – as a teacher, friend, and poet. The panel includes Junior Burke, prose writer, dramatist, and lyricist; Lisa Birman, Summer Writing Program director, poet, and lecturer for Naropa’s MFA in Creative Writing; and Jim Cohn, poet, poetry activist, spoken word artist, and early alumnus of the Kerouac School.

For tickets to Howl, visit The Boulder Theater:

Howl – Movie Trailer:

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