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October 01, 2020

Denver Film Festival - The Line-Up


Cinema going as most of us knew it has changed. Even with theaters in some parts of the country open, there seems to be hesitation about going back due to health concerns. After cancellations of some film festivals, festival season has returned. Toronto did have a mix of theatrical and virtual screenings. After dealing with the various uncertainties plus factoring current local health mandates, the Denver Film Festival will return, albeit totally virtual, and lower key.

The current line-up is somewhat different as there are no obvious Oscar bait titles. Also missing are the handful of classic films. If there are any celebrities, they will probably be appearing via Zoom. No "Red Carpet" events meaning that I will be watching films at home, making every screening a beige carpet event. The film festival's artwork this year includes a picture of a bunch of television sets, signifying how the films will be seen. I assume most people will actually be watching on big wide screen sets rather than those in the picture that remind me of my youth when early cinephilia was developed watching everything in black and white on nineteen inch (if that big) screens on television sets from long gone brands like Admiral and Philco. To its credit, Denver Film, the festival's home organization, has its own platform to allow the streaming of films via Apple TV and Roku.

At this point, I have no idea what films I will cover, though they will mostly be narrative. Of most interest to me is Christian Petzold's Undine. Also, there is Under the Open Sky by Miwa Nishikawa. I am admittedly not enthusiastic about seeing the newest film by Hong Sangsoo as he has gone to a familiar template too many times. Of more interest to me is Emma Seligman's debut comic feature, Shiva Baby - shiva being the name for the formal Jewish period of mourning. I will probably take a look at Minari by Lee Isaac Chung. The Korean-American filmmaker was born in Denver. His film, starring Steven Yuen, has been picked up by A24, the indie label du jour. In some cases, I may just dive in with little or no idea about the film or the filmmaker.

The festival will run from October 22 through November 8. While some films will be available to be streamed for a period of days with the option of screening within a 48 hour period, other films will only be available on specific days and times. Other restrictions may apply for anyone not based within Colorado. There are also limits as to how many people can watch some of the films which is in part why the festival schedule has been stretched out beyond its usual twelve days. How this will work out is the big question mark for the festival organizers. For the audience, some may gripe that its not the same as dealing with the crowds that clog the Sie Film Centers lobby, but others I suspect will welcome the festival as a much needed distraction from an even more contentious Presidential election.

The full festival schedule is here.

Posted by Peter Nellhaus at October 1, 2020 12:45 PM