The 35th Starz Denver Film Festival (SDFF), sponsored by Starz Entertainment and produced by the Denver Film Society, announced today its Red Carpet Galas, Special Presentations, and Films in Competition. Recognized as the Rocky Mountain Region’s largest film event, SDFF attracts over 55,000 film-goers and is widely recognized for presenting Academy Award and Independent Spirit Award-winning films, such as The Artist, Black Swan, Brokeback Mountain, No Country for Old Men, and Slumdog Millionaire – well before their collective accolades.
“As our country chooses its next President, the Starz Denver Film Festival will give tens of thousands of local film lovers the opportunity to ‘Vote Film’ and experience the artistic creations of some of the world’s best film makers,” said Festival Director Britta Erickson. “This year’s festival will offer an astounding array of film choices and the festivities that only SDFF can provide. This is one time you can vote often and never make a bad choice.
The Starz Denver Film Festival opens November 1 with a Red Carpet Presentation of A Late Quartet, directed by Yaron Zilberman and starring a stand-out cast of Philip Seymour Hoffman, Mark Ivanir, Catherine Keener, and Christopher Walken. Dustin Hoffman’s touching directorial debut, Quartet, will take the stage on Big Night for a Red Carpet Presentation on November 3. David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook will wrap SDFF’s Red Carpet Presentations on November 10.
SDFF Special Presentations include Any Day Now, Art of Conflict, Évocateur: The Morton Downey Jr. Movie, The Fitzgerald Family Christmas, Free Samples, Grassroots, Hyde Park on Hudson, Jayne Mansfield’s Car, The Life and Times of Paul the Psychic Octopus, The Sapphires, Shadow Dancer, and Stand Up Guys.
“More than 225 films from close to 40 different countries make up the slate for this year’s festival and we’re once again looking forward to introducing a rich and diverse selection of titles to Colorado audiences, including 16 locally produced films”, said Artistic Director, Brit Withey.
RED CARPET PRESENTATIONS
Opening Night, November 1
A Late Quartet – (DIRECTOR Yaron Zilberman, PRODUCERS Vanessa Coifman, David Faigenblum, Emanuel Michael, Tamar Sela, Mandy Tagger, Yaron Zilberman, WRITERS Seth Grossman, Yaron Zilberman, CAST Philip Seymour Hoffman, Mark Ivanir, Catherine Keener, Christopher Walken) – When cellist Peter (Christopher Walken) informs his string-quartet colleagues (Philip Seymour Hoffman, Mark Ivanir, and Catherine Keener) that he’s been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, dramatic passions arise from within their artistic souls. The soundtrack and score by Angelo Badalamenti, featuring works by Haydn, Bach and Strauss, segue smoothly into the action.
Big Night, November 3
Quartet – (DIRECTOR Dustin Hoffman, PRODUCERS Finola Dwyer, Stewart Mackinnon, WRITER Ronald Harwood, CAST Maggie Smith, Michael Gambon, Billy Connolly, Sheridan Smith, Pauline Collins) – Making his directing debut at age 75, Dustin Hoffman brings an optimistic take on aging to this dramatic comedy about a houseful of retired-but still very much kicking-theater folk. Classical music absorbs the characters, played by a star-studded cast that includes Maggie Smith and Tom Courtenay.
Closing Night, November 10
Silver Linings Playbook – (DIRECTOR/WRITER David O. Russell, PRODUCERS Bruce Cohen, Donna Gigliotti, Jonathan Gordon, CAST Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro, Julia Stiles, Chris Tucker) – Writer-director David O. Russell explores the dysfunctional family in his darkly comic adaptation of Matthew Quick’s 2008 novel. Released from a psychiatric facility into the care of his not-so-sane parents (Jackie Weaver and Robert DeNiro), Pat Solitano (Bradley Cooper) finds solace in the company of a psychotic young widow (Jennifer Lawrence).
Any Day Now – (DIRECTOR Travis Fine PRODUCERS Travis Fine, Kristine Hostetter Fine, Chip Houirihan, WRITERS Travis Fine, George Bloom, CAST Alan Cumming, Garret Dillahunt, Frances Fisher, Isaac Leyva, Gregg Henry, Jamie Allman, Kelli Williams, Chris Mulkey) – A moving and entertaining portrayal of a gay adoption case from 1970s California, Any Day Now pairs a flamboyant drag performer (Alan Cumming) with a straitlaced and tightly closeted district attorney as the would-be permanent custodians of a teenager with Down syndrome.
Art of Conflict – (DIRECTOR Valeri Vaughn) – Narrated by Vince Vaughn, this eye-opening documentary examines how the street art of murals tells the story of Northern Ireland’s history and the violent Troubles, through interviews with muralists, political figures, art historians, and people who live and work in the region.
Évocateur: The Morton Downey Jr. Movie – (DIRECTORS Seth Kramer, Daniel A. Miller, Jeremy Newberger, WRITER Daniel A. Miller) – Before Beck and Limbaugh, another populist reigned supreme. Re-meet Morton Downey Jr., the original f**king loudmouth. Lower the safety bar for a roller-coaster ride through Downey’s euphoric ascent to fame and nauseating plummet to infamy.
The Fitzgerald Family Christmas – (DIRECTOR/WRITER Edward Burns, PRODUCERS Edward Burns, Aaron Lubin, William Rexer, CAST Kerry Bishé, Connie Britton, Edward Burns, Heather Burns, Dara Coleman, Brian D’Arcy James, Marsha Dietlein Bennett, Noah Emmerich, Caitlin FitzGerald) – Writer/director/star Edward Burns revisits the working-class, Irish-American roots of The Brothers McMullen, his 1995 breakout hit at Sundance, to fashion this holiday dramedy about a family reluctantly allowing a visit by the clan’s patriarch after an absence of 20 years.
Free Samples – (DIRECTOR Jay Gammill, PRODUCERS Eben Kostbar, Joseph McKelheer, WRITERS Jim Beggarly, CAST Jess Weixler, Jesse Eisenberg, Jason Ritter, Tippi Hedren) – In Jay Gammill’s debut, angry law school dropout Jillian has to hand out ice cream samples after a night of heavy drinking. Sporting a wicked hangover, she doles out more than her customers bargain for as she faces her own existential dilemma. Jesse Eisenberg and Tippi Hedren contribute.
Grassroots – (DIRECTOR Stephen Gyllenhaal, PRODUCERS MRB Productions, Matt R. Brady, Peggy Case, Michael Huffington, Peggy Rajski, Brent Stiefel, WRITERS Stephen Gyllenhaal, Justin Rhodes, CAST Jason Biggs, Joel David Moore, Cedric the Entertainer, Cobie Smulders, Lauren Ambrose) – In this fact-based dramatic comedy, scenes of beautiful but traffic-choked Seattle make a strong case for young City Council candidate Grant Cogswell’s single cause: extension of the city’s quiet, efficient monorail. Cogswell improbably came very close to unseating the incumbent in 2001.
Hyde Park on Hudson – (DIRECTOR Roger Michell, PRODUCERS David Aukin, Kevin Loader, WRITER Richard Nelson CAST Bill Murray, Laura Linney, Olivia Williams, Elizabeth Marvel, Olivia Colman, Sam Creed) – International affairs must be juggled with the complexities of FDR’s domestic establishment when the president (Bill Murray) and his wife host the king and queen of England in upstate New York as Britain faces imminent war with Germany.
Jayne Mansfield’s Car – (DIRECTOR Billy Bob Thornton PRODUCER Geyer Kosinski, WRITERS Tom Epperson, Billy Bob Thornton, CAST Kevin Bacon, Ray Stevenson, Robert Patrick, Robert Duvall, John Hurt, Tippi Hedren) – Two families are brought together in 1969 Alabama by the death of a woman who was married first to Jim (Robert Duvall) and then to Kingsley (John Hurt). The families struggle with resentments, jealousy, fear of aging, and the tension between three generations of fathers and sons whose notions of manhood are shaped by their exposure to combat.
The Life and Times of Paul the Psychic Octopus – (DIRECTOR/WRITER Alexandre O. Philippe, PRODUCERS Alexandre O. Philippe, Robert Muratore) – Octopus as oracle? So say believers in Paul the psychic cephalopod, who correctly predicted the winners of eight 2010 World Cup soccer matches. Director Alexandre O. Philippe (The People vs. George Lucas) explores Paul’s meteoric rise to celebrity status in this charming documentary.
The Sapphires – (DIRECTOR Wayne Blair PRODUCERS Rosemary Blight, Kylie Du Fresne WRITERS Tony Briggs, Keith Thompson CAST Chris O’Dowd, Deborah Mailman, Jessica Mauboy, Shari Sebbens, Miranda Tapsell) – Exuberant renditions of classic Motown tunes carry this upbeat musical comedy/drama, based on the true story of a talented all-Aboriginal Australian girl group who win a contest to tour Vietnam entertaining American troops-and often dodging bullets.
Shadow Dancer – (DIRECTOR James Marsh, PRODUCERS Chris Coen, Ed Guiney, Andrew Lowe, WRITER Tom Bradby, CAST Clive Owen, Andrea Riseborough, Gillian Anderson, Aidan Gillen, Domhnall Gleeson) – When a young Irish mother (Andrea Riseborough) is arrested for planting an IRA bomb in a London subway, she must choose between separation from her son and threatening the safety of her brothers. Clive Owen plays the MI5 agent whose job it is to tco-opt her.
Stand Up Guys – (DIRECTOR Fisher Stevens, PRODUCERSSidney Kimmel, Tom Rosenbeg, Gary Lucchesi, Jim Tauber, WRITER Noah Haidle, CAST Al Pacino, Christopher Walken, Alan Arkin, Julianna Margulies) – Al Pacino, Christopher Walken, and Alan Arkin star in this action comedy as retired gangsters reunited for one epic night. The three try to compensate for missed decades of crime, drugs, and sex, but one has been put in an impossible quandary by a former mob boss.
FILMS IN COMPETITION
KRZYSZTOF KIESLOWSKI AWARD FOR BEST FEATURE FILM
Alps – (DIRECTOR Giorgos Lanthimos, PRODUCERS Giorgos Lanthimos, Athina Rachel Tsangari, WRITERS Efthymis Filippou, Giorgos Lanthimos, CAST Stavros Psyllakis, Aris Servetalis, Johnny Vekris, Ariane Labed, Aggeliki Papoulia) – A paramedic, a nurse, a gymnast, and her coach provide the service of standing in for the recently deceased, by appointment. In this darkly comic, existential tale, director Yorgos Lanthimos (Dogtooth) employs intertwining plots, striking camerawork and stirring performances to blur the line between reality and make-believe.
Barbara – (DIRECTOR/WRITER Christian Petzold, PRODUCERS Florian Koerner von Gustorf, Michael Weber, CAST Nina Hoss, Ronald Zehrfeld, Jasna Fritzi Bauer, Mark Waschke, Rainer Bock) – An East German doctor who has been banished from 1980s Berlin finds comfort in her skills and her patients amid the bleakness of exile. Given the chance to reunite with her West German lover, she must weigh her dedication to her patients against her chance for a new life.
Guilty – (DIRECTOR/WRITER Vincent Garenq, PRODUCERS Christophe Rossignon, Philip Boeffard, CAST Philippe Torreton, Wladimir Yordanoff, Noémie Lvovsky, Raphael Ferret, Michèle Goddet) – This fact-based story of a man incarcerated nearly four years for horrific crimes he didn’t commit grippingly shows just how far awry the judicial process can fall. Viewers feel Alain Marécaux’s predicament with stunning immediacy as his life is slowly torn to shreds.
Lotus – (DIRECTOR Pascale Simons PRODUCER Marc Bary WRITER Philip Delmaar, CAST Monic Hendrickx, Edda Barends, Gaite Jansen, Martijn Lakemeijer, Chris Zegers, Georgina Verbaan, Peggy-Jane de Schepper, Nasrdin Dchar) – Bonds of love are tested to both humorous and sorrowful effect as couples and families tackle the challenging issues of suicide, injury, and infidelity. Five interwoven stories about need and desire create a rich tapestry of life-changing moments that take place in the space of 24 hours.
Paradise: Faith – (DIRECTOR/PRODUCER Ulrich Seidl, WRITERS Ulrich Seidl, Veronika Franz, CAST Maria Hofstätter, Nabil Saleh, Natalya Baranova, Rene Rupnik) – Religion and sexuality clash in unexpected ways when a woman devoted to the Catholic Church goes on her annual pilgrimage to evangelize others, only to have her loose-cannon, wheelchair-bound Muslim husband return after two years to take his rightful place in the household.
Sister – (DIRECTOR Ursula Meier PRODUCERS Denis Freyd, Ruth Waldburger, WRITERS Antoine Jaccoud, Ursula Meier, CAST Léa Seydoux, Kacey Mottet Klein, Gillian Anderson) – A lower-class Swiss boy ascends to a luxury ski resort to steal from the wealthy patrons in order to support himself and his jobless sister. It’s a risky lifestyle that he handles well, until family matters intrude and threaten to take away what stability he’s been able to create for himself.
THE NEW DIRECTORS AWARD
28 Hotel Rooms – (DIRECTOR/WRITER Matt Ross, PRODUCERS Lynette Howell, Louise Runge, Samantha Housman, CAST Chris Messina, Marin Ireland) – In his directorial debut, Matt Ross takes a new approach to filmmaking with this collage of hotel-room scenes between lovers (Marin Ireland and Chris Messina) who are married to other people yet find themselves falling deeper and deeper into a profound relationship.
City World – (DIRECTOR/WRITER Brent Chesanek, PRODUCERS Brent Chesanek, Yvette Granata, Justin Strawhand CAST Sean Kaufman) – A beautifully drawn portrait of empty landscapes in Orlando, Florida, serves as backdrop for a boy’s ruminations on history and family. Images rich in atmosphere contrast with his notions about how Orlando came to be and what his life is like, now that he’s living alone with his father.
Consuming Spirits – (DIRECTOR/WRITER/PRODUCER Chris Sullivan, CAST Robert Levy, Nancy Andrews, Chris Sullivan) – Consuming Spirits combines meticulous pencil drawing, collage, cutout, and stop-motion animation to weave a spell as it tells of three tormented souls with closely guarded secrets in an imaginary Appalachian town. Chris Sullivan’s film is a haunting ride for all who take the trip.
International Sign for Choking – (DIRECTOR/WRITER Zach Weintraub, PRODUCER Bradley Smith, CAST Zach Weintraub, Sophia Takal, Roger Delahaye) – Former exchange student Josh (writer/director Zach Weintraub) returns to Buenos Aires to work on a documentary, but can’t fit in. He meets fellow American Anna, and though there’s a mutual attraction, Josh’s feelings of alienation spoil any possibilities of a relationship.
Pincus – (DIRECTOR/WRITER David Fenster, CAST David Nordstrom, Dietmar Franosch, Paul Fenster, Christy Idavoy) – After becoming sole caretaker for his Parkinson’s-patient dad, slacker Pincus learns some life lessons despite himself. Director David Fenster drew from his experiences caring for his own father. With a cast of mostly family and friends-including Fenster’s dad-Pincus is part fiction, part documentary and wholly authentic.
Richard’s Wedding – (DIRECTOR/WRITER Onur Tukel, PRODUCERS Jason Klorfein, Devoe Yates, CAST Onur Tukel, Jennifer Prediger, Darrill Rosen, Jamie Dobie, Oona Mekas, Heddy Lahmann, Adam Schartoff, Lawrence Michael Levine, Dustin Guy Defa) – Writer/director Onur Tukel stars in this quirky comedy. Along with an offbeat group of comrades, Tuna is headed to Central Park for a friend’s wedding. As their conversation-from inane to profound-unfolds and wedding plans go awry, the pals’ faults and insecurities are exposed.
THE MAYSLES BROTHERS AWARD FOR BEST DOCUMENTARY
Bestiaire – (DIRECTOR Denis Côté, PRODUCER Sylvain Corbeil) – French-Canadian director Denis Côté (an SDFF guest last year) looks at the fascinating interplay of human beings and exotic animals in this partially staged documentary, filmed at Quebec’s Parc Safari. He suggests a kind of loneliness we may not grasp-and that the creatures are curious about us, too.
Gregory Crewdson: Brief Encounters – (DIRECTOR/PRODUCER Ben Shapiro, FEATURING Gregory Crewdson) – Brief Encounters is a journey inside the mind of legendary artist Gregory Crewdson and a work of art in its own right. The film documents Crewdson’s creative process, following him through small town Massachusetts as he sets up the “perfect frozen moment” for each mesmerizing photograph.
Long Distance Revolutionary: A Journey with Mumia Abu-Jamal – (DIRECTOR/WRITER Stephen Vittoria, PRODUCERS Stephen Vittoria, Noelle Hanrahan, Katyana Farzanrad, FEATURING Cornel West, Alice Walker, Angela Davis, Rubin Hurricane Carter, Peter Coyote, Giancarlo Esposito, Dick Gregory, Ruby Dee, Tariq Ali, Amy Goodman) – Mumia Abu-Jamal joined the Black Panther Party at age 15, and reported on the revolutionary movement until his arrest for murder in 1981. Even on death row, his voice would not be silenced. Long Distance Revolutionary focuses on Abu-Jamal’s prolific writing, politics, and perseverance.
Private Universe (Soukromý vesmír) – (DIRECTOR/WRITER Helena Třestíková, PRODUCERS Kateřina Černá, Pavel Strnad) – Veteran Czech documentarian Helena Třestíková, the master of a time-lapse filming method she calls “time collection,” charts 37 years in the lives of the working-class Kettner family-from the birth of their son Honza, in 1974, on through his uncertain adulthood. In the same period, Třestíková’s homeland boots out Stalinist socialism and joins the European Union.
The Revisionaries – (DIRECTOR Scott Thurman, PRODUCERS Pierson Silver, Scott Thurman, Orlando Wood, WRITER Jawad Metni, Scott Thurman) – Dinosaurs rode on Noah’s Ark? The Earth was created a mere 10,000 years ago? The battle for young people’s minds resumes every ten years when the State Board of Education meets to revise Texas’s textbooks. The Revisionaries documents the ongoing fight between fundamentalists and academics.
Virgin Tales – (DIRECTOR/PRODUCER Mirjam von Arx, WRITERS Mirjam von Arx, Michèle Wannaz) – No sex before marriage, not even a kiss? Randy Wilson, founder of the Purity Ball in Colorado Springs, believes young women’s bodies belong to God until the right man comes along. Virgin Tales documents two years with his evangelical Christian family as they promote chastity.
Tickets for the 2012 Starz Denver Film Festival:
Individual tickets go on sale to Denver Film Society Members on Wednesday, October 17 and to the general public on Friday, October 19. Tickets are available for purchase online at denverfilm.org or at two box office locations, Denver Film Center/Colfax (2510 East Colfax Avenue, Denver, CO 80206) or the Starz Denver Film Festival Pavilions Ticketing and Information Center (500 16th Street, Suite #188, Denver, CO 80202).