For many of us, the movie theater is where we go to escape our troubles and be transported to another world. And at Sie FilmCenter, the magic comes to life. The theater was opened as the Denver Film Center in 2008, before changing the name to Sie Film Center in 2016. Located on East Colfax, the cinematheque is a non-profit organization, a cultural hub for film and movies in the city, and the home of the Denver Film Society, the Denver Film Festival and so much more.
Going to the movies is a fun night out, but seeing a film at Sie is a cinematic experience. 303 Magazine met with Sie Artistic Director Keith Garcia to learn what makes Sie the best place to see a movie in Denver.
Sie’s Passion For Movies Makes It Unlike Any Other Theater
“We don’t want it to be that you come [to SIE] to watch a movie, you come for an experience with the film,” Garcia said. While large theater chains have many bells and whistles, they are large corporations that lack the human element that Sie has in spades. Every movie and event is hand-chosen by its passionate staff and most movies have introductions before the film. “We are trying to plug into our audience’s passions, not just what will get you to come in and spend money,” he told us.
Denver Film Festival
The largest festival held at Sie is the Denver Film Festival. Running from November 2 to 13, the festival boasts more than 200 movies to see and is the largest festival in the Rocky Mountain region. “We [Sie] are the home base of the festival,” Garcia said. “To have a moment like that is an embarrassment of riches, where you have to choose.” The festival is full of premiers, red-carpet events, Q+A with casts and crews, special guests and so much more. The festival brings the magic of Hollywood to the Mile High. “At our peak a few years ago, it was 50,000 people. And trying to see how many of the 50,000 we can get to come to SIE on a regular basis. The festival is amazing and definitely worth waiting for every year, but there are 50ish other weeks that they can be watching movies that are just as good as the selection at the festival,” Garcia added.
Film Series And Festivals You Won’t Want To Miss
Sie prides itself on its variety of programming for people to enjoy. The latest blockbusters and indie movies regularly have showings on its state-of-the-art projectors, as well as myriad classic and foreign films. Sie goes the extra mile with all its unique programming, but the film series and festivals put on year-round make it shine. Here, there is always something for everyone.
Halloween + Sie Fear Center
There is nothing quite as terrifying as watching a horror film in a theater, and for Halloween, the SIE Fear Center series provides a nice variety of horror movies to enjoy throughout the season. Make sure to check out the horrific selection of movies here and prepare to be scared.
If one month of horror isn’t enough for your appetite, Scream Screen is for you — a quarterly, and soon-to-be monthly, series hosted by Theresa Mercato. “[She] makes really cool events around these films. She dresses up in costumes and teaches the history [of the film]. It’s always films that not many people have seen, but they trust her vision over the years. It has become one of our most successful programs,” Garcia said.
Sci-Fi Film Series
Denver Film and The Museum of Nature and Science have partnered together to show a sci-fi film, and a scientist working with the museum comes and talks about the science, or lack thereof, in the movie and goes in-depth about the concepts explored.
Rainbow Cult is a new film series that highlights Queer films. “Those films are the added benefit of it’s a party where people are encouraged to say their favorite quotes when they come on screen and sing along to the songs in the movie. They are hosted by two folks, one is a drag performer and always does a number before the film,” Garcia said. At a recent screening of the cult film “Drop-Dead Gorgeous,” everyone got a free tiara and sash before the movie to get into the mood for beauty pageants and mayhem.
Woman + Film
Founded by Barbara Bridges, Woman + Film celebrates women by showcasing films and documentaries made by and about women for all audiences to see.
CineLatinx Film Festival
The year-long festival showcases some of the best of Latin and Latin-American filmmaking, as well as offerings from Spain and Portugal.
The Dragon Boat Film Festival
Colorado’s only Asian and Asian-American film festival celebrates the rich culture of the continent through films, shorts, documentaries and more.
Colorado’s only queer film festival was founded by Garcia and is based on three principles: queer voices, queer vision and queer visibility. “That’s the bottom line of the queer film festival is identification. I mean the goal of filmmaking when you are watching a story on screen is you are identifying with someone in that film. For a lot of the queer community, that someone isn’t anywhere close to them. And sometimes that is okay, it is good to step into someone else’s shoes in movies to experience that. But when 90% of that is non-queer people, the need for queer identification is very important,” Garcia said.
A Membership At The Cultural Hub For Film In Denver
Community is at the heart of Denver Film and Sie, and one of the best ways to immerse yourself in the culture of Mile High film is with a membership. The $65 annual membership gets you discounted tickets and concessions, advanced tickets and early entry to the Denver Film Festival, members-only screenings and more. A bonus is that since Denver Film is a non-profit, your membership is tax-deductible.
One of Garcia’s favorite things from the past few years is, “To go from us being closed for 18 months, to welcoming audiences back with open arms and having that communal movie watching again. Whether it’s with 178 people in a sold-out house, or whether it’s just you with 15 other people, everyone is having the experience at the same time.” Garcia loves seeing audiences coming out of the theater and seeing people meet up and talk about the film they just saw with people they might not even know. Movies bring people together through shared experiences, and the community at Sie embraces this.
“I know our audience sees a bunch of other events going on in New York and Los Angeles. For a long time, it seemed only those big cities get to see those films or retrospectives and restorations. I wanted to squash that immediately. We have everything you need here. I always look out for new films or restorations and all that stuff and bring it to our audience. I don’t want someone to feel they need to go to one of those cities to experience a film when we can do that ourselves,” he said.
Garcia likened Sie’s variety to the Colorado weather, saying, “They say if you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes. If you don’t like the movie today, come back tomorrow.”
Sie FilmCenter is located at 2510 E Colfax Ave, Denver. Learn more here.