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October 17, 2011

Starz Denver Film Festival 2011 - The Schedule

Seopyeonje poster.jpg

Beyond the films, this year's edition of the Starz Denver Film Festival is notable for being the last one to be held at its former location, the Starz FilmCenter. Plans are afoot to make changes at the Auraria campus of the University of Colorado, Denver, where the theater, originally an AMC multiplex in a former shopping mall, is located. I won't miss watching films there. The screens are not very big, and the sightlines are not always good, forcing me to be extremely choosy about where I sit. My fondest memory of that theater was from sometime almost twenty or so years ago, walking by this stunningly tall, impossibly beautiful woman, and realizing that it was Geena Davis. Less so now, than in the past when there were fewer film festivals, real stars came to Denver.

As for this years festival, the usual films are scheduled, including Melancholia, A Dangerous Method, The Artist and Le Havre. I plan to see all of these films . . . eventually. But with so many films (over two hundred features) and limited time to view films and write about them, my reportage on the festival will not exactly be the most rounded coverage. But there are some of the better known titles making their way through the festival circuit that I plan to see and write about.

Most of my coverage will be on the Japanese and Korean films scheduled. The festival has highlighted different countries over the past few years. I wish that of the Japanese films, there were more truly classic titles. At least Ballad of Narayama and Rikyu are not overly familiar, but they are available on DVD. For Imamura, I would have loved to have seen Stolen Desires, his debut from 1958, while for Teshigahara, I would have chosen Man without a Map. Kon Ichikawa's version of The Makioka Sisters is for me, one of his weaker films, and also readily available on DVD. Had I been asked, I would have chosen any film Ichikawa made with Machiko Kyo. What I plan to see will be Takeshi Kitano's Outrage, Koji Fukada's Hospitalite, and some debut films, Food and the Maiden by Minoru Kurimura, Haruka Motoi's Yukiko, and Record Future by Kentaro Kishi. This last film is from an actor associated with such cinematic nuttiness as Sukeban Boy, Machine Girl and Tokyo Gore Police.
poster outrage.jpg

The Korean films include Kim Ki-duk's autobiographical Ariang, Kim Min-suk's directorial debut, Haunters, and Hong Sang-soo's latest, The Day He Arrives. The film festival gives out a "John Cassavetes Award", and even before I knew a Hong film was scheduled, I had joked with festival programmer, Brit Withey, that Hong should get the honor due in part to the use of improvisation in his films. Classic might be a relative term here, but also scheduled is Im Kwon-taek's 1993 film, Seopyeonje about Korean folk singers in the 1950s. Potentially the most significant inclusion would be the "Town" trilogy by Jeon Kyu-hwan. Scroll down on Adam Hartzell's review of Dance Town.

The only other Asian film schedules is The High Life, the first narrative film from Zhao Dayong. The Chinese filmmaker is probably best known for his documentary, Ghost Town. Also quite intriguing, is the Indian film, Gandu, a departure for those who only know Indian cinema through the high minded work of Satyajit Ray, or the colorful Bollywood movies.

Asian film usually has not been represented with consistency at the film festival. Were finances no consideration, I would be in Lyon, France this week.

This year's honoree for the Stan Brakhage Award will be Abigail Child, at this time a filmmaker I am unfamiliar with. The featured first or second film by an Italian director, to be awarded the Maria and Tommaso Maglione Italian Filmmaker Award. will be Martino's Summer by by Massimo Natale, starring Treat Williams. On a side note, Williams was one of the many stars of Things to do in Denver when You're Dead.

Recommendations will be considered, so chime in in the comments section.

What I see and cover will, as usual be also affected by available screenings, available screeners, whatever piques my interest, and the pleadings of filmmakers to see their respective films.

Posted by Peter Nellhaus at October 17, 2011 02:18 PM


"Outrage" is a head-spinning Kitano film. I won't lie and tell you I understood every double and triple cross, but it was as if Kitano said "screw it" and decided to parody himself with the gangster film. It does feature some stellar tracking shots though.

This line-up looks incredible. Enjoy!

Posted by: Joseph B. at October 16, 2011 11:21 PM


Thanks for this information. Since they are bringing HONG SANGSOO's latest film, I think my wife and I will finally head out to Denver. But, question, the sponsoring hotels (Queen Anne and Courtyard Marriot) seem kinda far from the venue playing HONG SANGSOO's film. As a native, do you have a better hotel to recommend that's closer to the screening venue? Or are the Queen Anne and Courtyard Marriot really not that far away.


Posted by: Adam Hartzell at October 19, 2011 03:46 PM

If the Courtyard Marriot is the one downtown, than it's about half a mile away. Closer are Four Seasons and Hotel Teatro, and a little further is the Oxford. The Queen Anne would require a cab ride to get to the Starz. Let me know if you come to Denver.

Posted by: Peter Nellhaus at October 20, 2011 03:48 PM