Sunday, November 22, 2009

32nd Annual Denver Film Festival Recap

As I said a couple of weeks ago, covering this year’s Starz Denver Film Festival was a huge honor; I just didn’t realize how cool it would actually be. I saw a lot of interesting films that I normally wouldn’t have, met a lot of new people (both from the festival and from the local media) and – as a bonus byproduct – explored Denver a little more.

Here are a few highlights:


Before the festival got started, a lot of the filmmakers walked the red (it was actually blue) carpet out in front of the Ellie Caulkins Opera House and answered questions from the media. Two things instantly jumped out to me:

1. I don’t care who is walking, the red carpet walk will always be way cool. You could the most famous person on the planet or some average schmo whom no one has ever heard of and it would be a sweet experience to witness. I now want to walk a red carpet before I get to work every morning or when I get back home at night. I’m legitimately regretting not having a red carpet before my wedding this past August because it just makes any event feel bigger.

2. I’m sure movie stars like Brad Pitt or Scarlett Jo get tired of red carpets, but the directors and producers who walked here seemed genuinely stoked to be there. From what I saw, they were all very gracious and answered the same questions over and over and over again and never lost the excitement. I’m sure there’s nothing better than THAT moment if you’ve never gotten to do it, and a lot of them seemed to actually have the presence of mind to soak it all in.


The one film that stood out above the rest for me personally was Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire (I’m sure you’ve heard of it, even if the title doesn’t sound familiar). It’s even getting a lot of Academy Award buzz, and I would have to say deservedly so. Don’t get me wrong, it was brutal to watch. I’m a comedy guy and really only like a dramatic piece when it has some redeeming quality to it. I can’t say that Precious doesn’t have that quality, but you are exhausted by the time you get there. Every time Precious’ mom was on the screen (portrayed brilliantly by comedian Mo’Nique), I was mortified. She was like Heath Ledger’s Joker in a way because she wasn’t a villain in the traditional sense. A great villain is one who acts and reacts based on previous life experiences (not greed as in a silly action movie). The truly scary thing about Mo’Nique’s performance is that she always somehow topped the vilest thing I thought she could do in any given moment. She still makes me shudder. Precious is one of those movies that I’m glad I saw but never want to see again (it should be mandatory for every silver spoon, preppy rich kid to be forced to watch this movie before he or she graduates from college, however). There is a short list of movies I’ve seen that force me to think about their meaning from time to time; Precious is already one of them.


On the first Friday night of the festival, I battled the snow to attend the Ed Harris event at the King Center on the Auraria Campus (most people know Harris from Pollock, The Hours, or his turn as John Glenn in The Right Stuff – I will always remember him as the main bad guy from The Rock, which starred Nicholas Cage and Sean Connery). At this event, Harris was presented with the festival’s 2009 Mayor’s Career Achievement Award. The festival showed a highlight reel of his incredible career, and then Harris sat on stage and answered questions from host (and Harris’ friend) Robert Knott and from the audience. Going into it, I was thinking it was going to be like one of those Inside the Actor’s Studio things, but Harris was so relaxed that the atmosphere quickly turned comfortably casual, and after a while it was like conversing with an old friend. Being the nerd that I am, I went home and looked Harris up on his page. What an impressive career. He reminds me of NBA journeyman Robert Horry in that (other than Pollock) he never did too much on his own but he makes your team so much better. Harris makes every movie he’s in 12 percent better and more credible – and yes, that includes The Rock.

Did you get to see any films or attend any of the festival events? If so, which ones stuck out for you? Feel free to comment below as I’d love to hear about your thoughts and experiences. Seeing how this was my first time covering the festival, I can’t tell you if it was better or worse than past years, but all I know is that I hope I get the opportunity to do it again.

*This recap can also be found at

No comments: