« Coffee Break | Main | Asian Streams »

October 26, 2009

I Aim for the Starz

Fish Eyes

In Thailand, there's a saying, "Same same, but different". The schedule for the 32nd Starz Denver Film Festival has been officially posted. And the Thai expression seems to be applicable here, at least for me. The mix of films seems pretty much the same as in past years. I knew there would be more Mexican films, a move to attract Denver's significant Chicano population. I was not expecting as many Iranian films to be included. The number of Asian films has not increased, which disappoints me with the absence of the Asian Film Festival that brought in about eight films, some which would not get theatrical release. I am trying to be a little sympathetic towards the Denver Film Society.

With a combination of a financial shortfall, a change of leadership that came in June, certainly with its own financial price, the Denver Film Society has even more reason to be conservative in some of its choices, certainly with the major attractions, such as Precious as the opening film. What seems to be a major challenge is getting people who flock to the film festival and general keep the smallish auditorium filled, or nearly filled, to come the rest of the year. I was the only one in the audience when Tony Manero and Nollywood Babylon had their weeklong runs. It seems like it's only when the film is included as part of the festival that viewers are more willing to take a chance.

Of some interest this year will be three documentaries related to the 2008 Democratic convention. One, titled Convention is by A. J. Schnack, a festival regular, and co-produced by Britta Erickson, the festival director. Hick Town is about Denver's generally well regarded Mayor John Hicklenlooper, with filmmaker George Hickenlooper taking advantage of family relationships. George Hickenlooper's film about an unofficial mayor, Rodney Bingenheimer, The Mayor of Sunset Strip was an interesting look at Los Angeles and pop culture. Barry Levinson has a bi=partisan look with his documentary, PoliWood.

Of the few Asian films to be featured, I am looking forward to Fish Eyes from China. Full admission here, I've been an internet pal with Benten Films cofounder Andrew Grant from about the time I launched my site here, so I am excited that his recently acquired feature will be seen theatrically. My Dear Enemy will be my introduction to Lee Yoon-ki. I've read good things about Lee's previous film, Ad Lib Night. I am disappointed that programmer Brit Withey still could not get his hands on The Good, the Bad, and the Weird. There is also the Taiwanese film, Yang yang by Cheng Yu-chieh. Clearly, I am going to have to continue seeking Asian films of interest though Netflix, assuming there's a U.S. DVD release, or with my own bulging collection of imports.

Anyone with thoughts about films I should make a point of covering, please let me know in the comments. I've had my flu shot, so I should be healthier than I was during last year's festival. I will try to cover a reasonable number of films, partially based on what advance screenings I can attend, films and events I want to see in person, and screeners that are available to me.

Posted by Peter Nellhaus at October 26, 2009 06:33 AM


If I can attend the Starz Denver Film Festival, I will go to see:

1.FILM IST. A GIRL AND A GUN (Gustav Deutsch, Austria)

2.I AM NOT YOUR FRIEND (Gyorgy Palfi, Hungary)

3.IRENE (Alain Cavalier, France)

4.THE LITTLE ONE (Tizza Covi + Rainer Frimmel)

5.MEMORY (Matthias Ludhardt, Germany)

Posted by: Celinejulie at October 26, 2009 09:40 AM

I quite liked My Dear Enemy, and I'd love to hear your thoughts on it. Also on Fish Eyes and St. Nick, which is also, of course, of particular interest to film bloggers (being directed by David Lowery). And Vincere will, I think, be coming to Pittsburgh soon, so anything you post about it will help me make up my mind about whether or not it's something I want to see!

Posted by: Andy at October 26, 2009 10:21 AM

I seem to remember hearing some good buzz about "The 400 Blows", but it looks a bit "been there done that" to me, don't ya think? B-)

I can really only comment on ones I've seen (a very small percentage):

"Best Worst Movie" - Loved it. It's not a deep penetrating documentary or emotional roller coaster ride, but I can pretty much guarantee you'll be smiling on the way out. Whether you've seen "Troll 2" or not (I hadn't). It's not all happiness and light though, as it has a few darker moments that are surprising.

"Big River Man" - If the main character isn't enough to hold your interest (and he should be) or the voyage isn't that interesting (and you would think swimming the amazon should be), then the style of the film will get to you. The further Martin Strel swims the Amazon, the madder his feverish thoughts become and the film itself joins him. If it ends up not being an exact document of his trip, it probably gives the viewer a much better feeling for what it was like than if it was.

"The Revenant" - Shrug. Not bad (especially for a purely independent production), but stretches many scenes beyond their breaking point and then goes on a good 30 minutes too long. Decent riff on the zombie theme (what if you based a film around the two characters from the end of "Shaun Of The Dead" - ie. a human and a zombie best friend).

"The Real Place" - A beautiful NFB short. It's only 5 minutes, but it's the kind of thing the NFB does so well and makes me so proud of them.

Posted by: Bob Turnbull at October 26, 2009 01:34 PM

Hello Everyone -- Adding to the Starz Denver Film Festival discussion, I want to direct you towards my film, FOOTPRINTS, a magical mystery set entirely on Hollywood Boulevard. It will have its World Premiere screenings on Thurs, 11/19 @ 9:45PM and Sat, 11/21 @ 7:15PM. Of 200 films being screened, it is one of six finalists for the Emerging Filmmaker Award. I will be at both screenings so please come up and say hello.

Posted by: Steven Peros at November 10, 2009 03:04 PM