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October 10, 2016

Denver Film Festival: The Schedule

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I couldn't help but think a bit about the Denver Film Festival when I read this article about the number of films shown last month in Toronto. The Denver Film Festival has almost as many films, but is geared more for a regional audience of cinephiles. Coming at the end of festival season, this year's festival schedule won't totally conflict with the newer, higher profile AFI Film Festival. For myself, I've chosen to be less attentive about Cannes and Toronto, and haven't even scanned what's playing at the New York Film Festival this year. Instead of fretting about what's not coming to Denver, what appears on the schedule that catches my eye turns into a happy surprise.

Past relationships may have paid off with the opening and closing night films. Damien Chazelle's Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench played at the 2009 festival. The audience favorite at Toronto, La La Land will be the opening film this year. Chilean Pablo Larrain's very busy year began with The Club at last year's festival prior to its theatrical run, and Jackie, about the just widowed Jacqueline Kennedy, as this year's closing film. There's also a Colorado connection, with John Carroll Lynch appearing as Lyndon Johnson in Larrain's film. Lynch was born Boulder, Colorado, and grew up in Denver. The reality of film festivals is that you need some crowd pleasers for economic viability, especially to make room for those films that will attract a smaller audience.

Among the several awards handed out at the festival is something called the Rare Pearl Award. I can only guess at the criteria, but it seems fitting that it should be given to the husband and wife team of Dominique Abel and Fiona Gordon. As writers, directors and stars of their films, the pair has a brand of whimsy that makes something like Amelie look relatively restrained. Paris Barefoot is the literal translation from the French title of Paris Pied Nus, and far better than Lost in Paris, n'est-ce pas? Supporting Gordon and Abel are Pierre Richard, the top French comic actor during the 70s and 80s, and our favorite French octogenarian, Emmanuelle Riva, presumable having more fun than she did with Amour.

The full schedule has several other familiar titles making the rounds of several film festivals. If the festival in full could be described as an iceberg, the number of films that I will be covering will be the equivalent to a sno-cone. What I post between November 2 through the 13th will be based on what screeners are available, screenings I can attend, and recommendations from several film critics and historians.

If I can express disappointment, it's that someone decided to have an unnecessary screening of Young Frankenstein. Disappointment because, Gene Wilder has several other films worth revisiting, but also because this is the DENVER Film Festival, and Denver's own Lisa Gaye should be remembered. OK, so she was not as big a star as sister Debra Paget, but as this scene shows, the girl could dance!

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Posted by peter at October 10, 2016 06:31 PM