Movies, celebrities, and more are returning

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After a fully virtual 2020, the Denver Film Festival returns this year with 233 films as well as personal panels, parties and interactive experiences.

Big titles and Oscar hopes such as “Spencer” with Kristen Stewart as Princess Diana will lead the party, while the Will Smith drama “King Richard” will conclude. Celebrity awards such as Jamie Dornan (the “Fifty Shades” series), Annabella Sciorra (“Jungle Fever”) and Clifton Collins Jr. (“Westworld”, “Capote”) and others round off the celebrations.

“This year’s festival is a hybrid festival, so our goal is to keep our attendance levels and increase virtual screenings at the same time,” said Artistic Director Matt Campbell. “It’s brand new to us, so let’s try to see what kind of audience we can generate.”

While past festivals have attracted between 50,000 and 60,000 total visitors (i.e. tickets sold) and ticket sales are strong for this year’s event, coming out again can be intimidating – even for seasoned movie buffs. Here is a handy guide for this year’s festival.

Shoebox foils

Kristen Stewart plays Princess Diana in “Spencer”.

The basics

The 44th Denver Film Festival runs Wednesday, November 3rd through Sunday, November 14th. The hub of the festival is undoubtedly the Sie FilmCenter at 2510 E. Colfax Ave., the home base of Denver Film and the venue for dozens of screenings. The building with three theaters opens 90 minutes before the first performance of the day. The shiny new AMC 9 + CO 10 (826 Albion St.) will also host dozens of demonstrations.

Red Carpet Screenings will again take place in the historic Ellie Caulkins Opera House (1385 Curtis St.), with non-film programs such as VR and hybrid-interactive experiences in the McNichols Civic Center Building or the Festival Annex, as the organizers call it (144 W . Colfax Ave.).

Selected screenings will also take place in the Sturm Family Auditorium in the Freyer-Newman Center at Denver Botanic Gardens (1007 York St.). A map and opening times for each venue can be found at denverfilm.org/denverfilmfestival/dff44/venues.

All venues except McNichols have attached parking garages, with parking meters and on-street parking.

Bring your VAX card

At each venue, attendees must pass a verification test prior to showing after Denver Film announced in late September that people would need to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 with an FDA or WHO-approved vaccine. (“Fully vaccinated” is defined as two weeks after a person’s second dose in a two-dose series and two weeks after a single-dose vaccination, organizers said.).

Children under the age of 12 who are currently unable to receive a vaccine must instead demonstrate a negative COVID-19 PCR test within 72 hours of the start time of the screening or event, officials said. Each station is located at or directly in front of the entrance to each venue. Inside, all guests aged 2 and over must wear a mask, except when actively eating and / or drinking and regardless of their vaccination status. For more information, visit denverfilm.org/denverfilmfestival/dff44/covid-safety.

The FilmCenter sign in front of your ...

Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post

The You FilmCenter sign outside their building at 2510 East Colfax in Denver on October 25, 2021. The Denver Film Festival returns this fall, November 3rd through November 14th, for in-person screenings as well as virtual screenings.

So watch

The Denver Film Festival’s pre-sale times will be selling tickets until November 2nd, but organizers are encouraging people to stick with virtual tickets that are scanned onto smartphones rather than printed. Tickets will also be available at all venues an hour before the first screening of the day, if available.

Participants must be in their seats 15 minutes before the program starts, organizers said. There is no late seating and no refunds or exchanges will be made.

Tickets are $ 17 for regular screenings; $ 11 for weekday matinees (before 5:30 PM); $ 22 for special presentations; $ 10 for creative talks (filmmakers and other discussions); $ 45 for the opening, centerpiece and closing red carpet showing and $ 35 for the red carpet matinees (all at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House). The opening party perks are included in the $ 75 package. All prices are lower for Denver Film members.

Portions of this year’s programming and bonus features will also be available as on-demand streaming on the Denver Film virtual theater platform operated by Eventive. More information is available at watch.eventive.org/denverfilmfestival.

Tickets for all screenings are available at denverfilm.org/denverfilmfestival/ticketing. Call the box office at 720-381-0813 for more information.

Brynn Anderson, AP file

Tilda Swinton poses for photographers during the photo call for the film “Memoria” at the 74th Cannes International Film Festival in the south of France.

What can be seen

Before buying tickets, be sure to read the program, but don’t wait too long as many screenings (especially in Sie FilmCenter) are sold out early. Group packages are currently sold out.

All red carpet presentations, even if they may be expensive compared to regular screenings, look mightily convincing. This also includes the aforementioned “Spencer” (November 3rd); Joaquin Phoenix “Come on, Come on” (November 5th); the horse racing drama “Jockey” (November 11); the climbing document “Torn”, which focuses on the late Alex Lowe and David Bridge (November 13); and graduation film “King Richard” with Will Smith as father of a young Venus and Serena Williams.

“Parallel Mothers,” directed by Pedro Almodóvar’s Spanish-language film about two single mothers-to-be who meet in hospital while preparing for childbirth and learning a few lessons from each other, stars Penélope Cruz. Other special presentations include the great looking “Memoria” (starring Tilda Swinton); “A Chiara” (Jonas Carpignano’s painful Italian-language drama); and “Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America”.

Producers Kirby Bryan and Emily Deschanel (“Bones”) contributed “A Decent Home,” which is described as “the David vs. Goliath story of the three-year battle to save the Denver Meadows RV Park in Aurora.” Director Alysa Nahmias’ “Krimes” documentary follows an artist prisoner while Rebekah Henderson’s Denver-based “Running with My Girls” examines women running for elected positions.

It’s no surprise that harrowing and disturbing topics abound. Jamie Boyle’s “Anonymous Sister” is following the opioid epidemic in Boyle’s own family. Alexandre Phillippe’s “The Taking” examines how Hollywood has represented stolen indigenous land in westerns, and Alan Dominguez’s “Document Ed”. presents a meta-documentation of students documenting women seeking refuge in churches (with a strong local reference).

Most of the program is broken down into sections such as CineLatinx, America Indie, Women + Film, CinemaQ, Spotlight on Social Justice, Shorts Packages, Culinary Cinema, Late Night and Shorts programs, and Italian and British / Irish cinema.

Jamie Dornan in “Synchronic”. (Rustic Films)

Big names

Denver’s is not a celebrity-driven film festival, although it has a proud history of big names – Emma Stone and director Damien Chazelle for “La La Land” 2016 and former visitors Steve Martin, Alfre Woodard, Bill Murray, Robert Altman, Judy Greer , Alan Cumming, Ang Lee, Francis Ford Coppola and Harry Dean Stanton.

As mentioned earlier, “50 Shades” hunk and real great actor Jamie Dornan will be present at the screening of his latest film “Belfast” on November 10th and will receive the Festival’s Excellence in Acting Award 2021. Annabella Sciorra (“The Sopranos”) will return for a 30th anniversary celebration of Spike Lee’s “Young Fever” and receive the festival’s Career Achievement Award. And Clifton Collins Jr. (Google him and you will instantly recognize his face) is going to receive the John Cassavetes Award.

The full schedule of performances and special events can be found at denverfilm.org/denverfilmfestival/dff44.

The essentials

This year’s event is costing Denver Film more production costs because the usual in-kind sponsors cannot offer many of the products and services they have had in the past, said James Mejia, CEO of Denver Film, who took the job a little longer a year ago. That means Denver Film had to spend around $ 300,000 more on these previously donated items compared to its 2019 budget, bringing the total spend for this year’s event to about $ 1 million.

However, federal, state, and local grants and other fundraisers have kept the nonprofit in good standing, Mejia said, and attendees should expect all the usual features as well as a greater focus on interactive experiences. While Mejia did not reveal the current status of the pre-sale tickets, he said they are on the right track to meet the heavy attendance of 2019.

“Our biggest sellers so far are the red carpets, but also the films made in Colorado,” he said. “This is really encouraging as we focus more on engaging with and promoting the Colorado film scene.”

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