Denver Film Festival (DFF) is back this October 31 through November 11 with 12 full days of screenings. That’s right — 12 days of screenings. Over the course of the festival, Denver Film Society (DFS) is playing over 250 films, most of which are seeing the light of day in Colorado — or even the United States — for the first time. The festival will also host filmmakers, directors, actors, workshops, a virtual reality pavilion and much more. This year’s international focus is Hungarian cinema.
This year’s Red Carpet Presentation is The Front Runner, a film about Colorado Senator Gary Hart played by Hugh Jackman (Logan, X Men, Les Misérables). The film also stars Vera Farmiga (Up in the Air, Bates Motel), J.K. Simmons (Juno, La La Land, Spider Man) and comedian Bill Burr (Breaking Bad, F is for Family). It’s also ironically slated for an official release on Election Day. Director Jason Reitman (Juno, Thank You for Smoking, Tully, Up in the Air, episodes of The Office and Saturday Night Live) is scheduled to stick around for a conversation at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House screening. In a press release, festival director Britta Erickson said,
“We are excited to welcome Jason Reitman back to the Denver Film Festival. After winning over audiences with Juno (DFF30), Reitman’s star has only risen with films like Up in the Air and Labor Day. Now he returns to showcase a story that will resonate deeply with Denver audiences—the controversial presidential campaign of Colorado Senator Gary Hart.”
Notably on the lineup is Wildlife, a film co-directed by the comedy actors Paul Dano (Little Miss Sunshine, Swiss Army Man, There Will Be Blood) and Zoe Kazan (The Big Sick). The film stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Carey Mulligan in an adaptation of the Richard Ford novel of the same name. Dano has already received acclaim for the directorial debut released with IFC Films, alongside Mulligan who’s been praised for a career-defining performance. Another star-studded feature is Everybody Knows with Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men, Skyfall) and Penélope Cruz (Vicky Christina Barcelona, Vanilla Sky). The suspense-drama is directed by two-time Oscar winner and DFF favorite Asghar Farhadi (A Separation, The Salesman).
If you’re a fan of funny flicks, check out Swimming with Men and Old Boys. Swimming with Men is a quirky UK dramedy about a middle-aged man’s synchronized swimming club. The UK holds down their comedic representation with Old Boys as well — a romantic comedy based on a French classic. The film stars Alex Lawther (The End of the F*cking World, Black Mirror).
Horror fans are also catered to at Denver Film Festival and this year there will be a hot-damn zombie Christmas musical. The surely original flick — Anna and the Apocolypse — has garnered a lot of buzz, was an official selection at this year’s Fantastic Fest and is also screening at Telluride Horror Show in mid-October. Though this is the only scary flick announced so far, be on the lookout for more in DFF’s full lineup announcement on October 10.
Documentary lovers will get their fill with the technology-focused General Magic, Postcards From the 48% — a political doc about Brexit — and ULAM: Main Dish for all of you foodies. The movie about the rise of Filipino flavors was an official selection at the year’s San Francisco International Film Festival. Maria by Callas uses never-before-seen footage to tell the story of singer Maria Callas through her own words. Oh, and for those that remember the 2014 black comedy, Frank, you’ll have the opportunity to meet the man who inspired the film in Being Frank: The Chris Sievey Story.
Check out the full first-wave below, as provided by Denver Film Society in a press release. Go here for tickets and more information about this year’s festival.
ANNA AND THE APOCALYPSE / dir. John McPhail / UK/USA
Just in time for Christmas, the apocalypse has begun, and the undead are descending on the sleepy Scottish town of Little Haven. Now teenaged Anna and her friends must fight—not to mention sing and dance—to survive in this zany, candy-colored zombie holiday musical.
BEING FRANK: THE CHRIS SIEVEY STORY / dir. Steve Sullivan / UK
Meet the real-life oddball whose story inspired the 2014 black comedy Frank. Over the course of two decades, almost-famous musician turned provocateur in papier-mâché head Chris Sievey lost himself in the very performance art that garnered him a cult following. This is his tragicomic truth.
EVERYBODY KNOWS / dir. Asghar Farhadi / Spain/France/Italy
Javier Bardem, Penélope Cruz, and Ricardo Darín star in this suspenseful tale of love and betrayal, secrets and lies set during a wedding amid the vineyards of Spain. Two-time Oscar winner Asghar Farhadi (A Separation, DFF34; The Salesman, DFF39) directs.
GENERAL MAGIC / dirs. Sarah Kerruish, Matthew Maude / USA/UK
From smartphones and touchscreens to e-commerce and emojis, the geniuses of General Magic invented it all. The only problem? They did it before most of us even knew what the Internet was. This fascinating documentary takes you behind the scenes of the world’s most successful failed company.
MARIA BY CALLAS / dir. Tom Volf / France
Through never-before-seen video footage, audio recordings, and other archival material, legendary opera singer Maria Callas tells her story in her own words—decades after her death. This transcendent portrait also captures Marilyn Monroe, Grace Kelly, Liz Taylor, and other leading lights of her era.
OLD BOYS / dir. Toby MacDonald / UK/Sweden
Cyrano de Bergerac goes to British boarding school in this charming update of the classic French comedy set in the 1980s, starring The End of the F***cking World’s Alex Lawther as an egghead who’s helping the handsome but dim-bulbed school hero to pursue a beautiful girl. Or is he?
POSTCARDS FROM THE 48% / dir. David Nicholas Wilkinson / UK
Made by and featuring voters who elected to remain in the European Union, this enlightening documentary about Brexit explores why 48 percent of United Kingdom residents have continued their fight against the momentous decision—against all odds.
SHOPLIFTERS (MANBIKI KAZOKU) / dir. Hirokazu Kore-eda / Japan
There’s honor among thieves. But there isn’t always justice. Renowned Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda’s piercing, fiercely tender portrayal of a poor but loving family of petty criminals scraping by on borrowed time won the Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.
SWIMMING WITH MEN / dir. Oliver Parker / UK
In this heartfelt dramatic comedy based on a true story, bored and possibly cuckolded accountant Eric (Rob Brydon, The Trip) is circling the drain of life—until, that is, he’s thrown a most-unexpected rope in the form of a synchronized swimming team for middle-aged males.
ULAM: MAIN DISH / dir. Alexandra Cuerdo / USA
Culinary Cinema Presentation
The American restaurant industry can be cutthroat. It can also be uplifting. That goes double for chefs seeking to bring immigrant cuisines and cultures to the table. This stirring documentary follows the visionaries at the center of the new Filipino food movement, including Eggslut’s Alvin Cailan.
WILDLIFE / dir. Paul Dano / USA
With co-writer Zoe Kazan, acclaimed actor Paul Dano makes a whopping directorial debut with this gorgeous adaptation of a Richard Ford novel, set in midcentury Montana, about a teenaged boy coming of age amid the dissolution of his parents’ marriage. Jake Gyllenhaal and Carey Mulligan star.