Lady Bird by Greta Gerwig
Lady Bird

Actress Greta Gerwig directorial debut Lady Bird starring Saoirse Ronan will kickoff the 40th Denver Film Festival which takes place November 1 to 12, 2017. I, Tonya, the Tonya Harding biopic, directed by Craig Gillespie, and starring Margot Robbie, will close out the festival on Saturday, November 11.

Other spotlight films include Submission directed by Richard Levine, starring Stanley Tucci and Kyra Sedgwick screening on Friday, November 3; and The Ballad of Lefty Brown directed by Jared Moshe, starring Bill Pullman and Peter Fonda will have a special “spotlight” screening on Wednesday, November 8.

Molly’s Game  starring Jessica Chastain and Idris Elba in the directorial debut from writer Aaron Sorkin, is featured on the “Big Night” of the festival on Thursday, November 9.

And, on closing night, there will also be a red carpet matinee of Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri by writer/director Martin McDonagh, starring Frances McDormand and Woody Harrelson on Saturday, November 11.

Special Presentations

CALL ME BY YOUR NAME – Italy/France/Brazil/USA / Director: Luca Guadagnino
Based on an acclaimed novel, the screenplay for this sensual and transcendent tale of first love from Italian filmmaker Luca Guadagnino was penned by none other than that master of exquisite longing, James Ivory

CHAPPAQUIDDICK – USA / Director: John Curran
How did one of the most powerful political dynasties in US history preserve its legacy in the aftermath of a tragic scandal? Directed by John Curran, this historical drama centers on the media maelstrom surrounding Chappaquiddick, as the 1969 car accident involving US Senator Ted Kennedy (Jason Clarke) and a young campaign worker (Kate Mara) came to be known. Ed Helms and Jim Gaffigan co-star.

DARKEST HOUR – UK / Director: Joe Wright
Gary Oldman stars in director Joe Wright’s thrilling fictionalized account of Winston Churchill’s first weeks in office during the early days of World War II. With the support of his wife of 31 years, Clemmie (Kristin Scott Thomas), the witty and brilliant Prime Minister must rally a nation to fight against incredible odds and change the course of world history forever.

HUMAN FLOW – Germany / Director: Ai Weiwei
In recent years, over 65 million people around the world have fled their homes to escape famine, climate change and war. This epic documentary journey through 23 countries by the internationally renowned Chinese artist Ai Weiwei gives powerful visual expression to both the staggering scale of the refugee crisis and its profoundly personal human impact.

IN THE FADE (Aus dem nichts) – Germany/France / Director: Fatih Akin
When her husband Nuri and young son Rocco are killed in a bomb attack, Katja begins a search for answers that makes the mourning process all the more painful and difficult. The trial of two neo-Nazi suspects pushes her to the edge, but there’s simply no alternative for the pursuit of justice. Diane Kruger won Best Actress at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival for her role in this raw, gripping drama.

ISMAEL’S GHOSTS (Les fantomes d’smael) – France / Director: Arnaud Desplechin
Mathieu Amalric, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Marion Cotillard star in this meta-romantic thriller from France about a filmmaker caught in a triangle between his current love and a woman from his past—who happens to have been presumed dead for 20 years.

LAST FLAG FLYING – USA / Director: Richard Linklater
Thirty years after they served together in Vietnam, three military vets (Steve Carell, Bryan Cranston and Laurence Fishburne) reunite for a different type of mission: to bury Doc’s son, a young Marine killed in Iraq. In this thoughtful and moving road movie, director Richard Linklater’s characters wrestle with the impact war has had on their lives.

THE LEISURE SEEKER – Italy/France / Director: Paolo Virzì
From acclaimed Italian filmmaker Paolo Virzì, this new take on an old genre—the road movie—stars Helen Mirren and Donald Sutherland as a runaway couple on an unforgettable journey to recapture their passion for life and their love for each other in the faithful old RV they call the Leisure Seeker.

NOVITIATE – USA / Director: Margaret Betts
Melissa Leo (The Fighter, The Big Short) leads a strong cast of rising stars in this Vatican II–era drama about a rural Tennessean girl’s first true love—which just so happens to be for God. Granted a scholarship to Catholic school, young Cathleen is quickly drawn into the mysterious romanticism—eroticism, even—of a life devoted to worship and servitude.

THE PARTY – UK / Director: Sally Potter
The more is anything but the merrier in this brutally funny satire on the British upper crust. Politico Janet (Kristin Scott Thomas) throws an insufferable dinner party whose every guest (Patricia Clarkson, Emily Mortimer and Cillian Murphy among them) is worse than the last—all the better for the audience to bask in writer-director Sally Potter’s zinger-rich dialogue.

SOLLERS POINT – USA / Director: Matthew Porterfield
This gritty drama follows small-time drug dealer Keith from the confines of house arrest back onto the racially tense streets of Baltimore. Although he wants to make a new start, his father (Jim Belushi), a retired steelworker, has little patience with his unemployed son—and the allure of criminal life in his depressed neighborhood may be impossible to withstand.

VIGILANTE: THE INCREDIBLE TRUE STORY OF CURTIS SLIWA AND THE GUARDIAN ANGELS – USA / Director: David Wexler
A forceful tribute to community self-defense, this documentary tells the remarkable story of Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa, who vividly narrates his initiation into a life of vigilantism in the crime-ridden New York City of the ’70s and ’80s, touching on everything from the crack epidemic to his defense of infamous subway gunman Bernard Goetz.

KRZYSZTOF KIESLOWSKI AWARD FOR BEST FEATURE FILM FINALISTS

THE HAPPINESS OF THE WORLD – Poland / Director: Michał Rosa
This period drama from Polish filmmaker Michał Rosa is set in 1939 in a village on the German-Polish border, where the residents of a tenement house endure the rising tension of the coming war. When a Warsaw journalist embeds himself in their building in search of an anonymous author, their secrets begin to surface, intertwined with a mysterious Jewish beauty named Róża.

IN THE FADE– Germany/France / Director: Fatih Akin
When her husband Nuri and young son Rocco are killed in a bomb attack, Katja begins a search for answers that makes the mourning process all the more painful and difficult. The trial of two neo-Nazi suspects pushes her to the edge, but there’s simply no alternative for the pursuit of justice. Diane Kruger won Best Actress at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival for her role in this raw, gripping drama.

QUALITY TIME – Netherland/Norway / Director: Daan Bakker
Dutch filmmaker Daan Bakker’s sly, strange tragicomedy about a quintet of 30-something misfits is told in five distinct parts—all employing their own inventive visual and narrative styles to convey a sense of the dislocation, dysfunction and absurdity dictating the lives of Koen, Stefaan, Kjell, Karel and Jef.

RADIANCE – Japan/France / Director: Naomi Kawase
In this heartfelt drama from Japan, Misako is a passionate translator of films for the visually impaired. At a screening, she meets Nakamori, an older photographer who is slowly losing his eyesight—but who can teach her to see what’s right in front of her, provided she’s open to the possibilities.

THELMA – Norway/France/Denmark/Sweden / Director: Joachim Trier
When shy, religious young Thelma goes to study at a university in Oslo, she begins to experience violent seizures that lead to an encounter with beautiful classmate Anja—while also revealing supernatural abilities. As the girls’ friendship deepens, both the terrifying implications of Thelma’s powers and tragic secrets from her past come to light in this paranormal thriller from Norway.

UNDER THE TREE – Iceland / Director: Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurðsson
When Baldwin and Inga’s next door neighbours complain that a tree in their backyard casts a shadow over their sundeck, what starts off as a typical spat between neighbours in the suburbs unexpectedly and violently spirals out of control.

MAYSLES BROTHERS AWARD FOR BEST DOCUMENTARY FINALISTS

32 PILLS: MY SISTER’S SUICIDE – USA / Director: Hope Litoff
She’s beautiful, artistic, beloved—and she can’t stand to be alive. Documentary filmmaker Hope Litoff seeks to piece together the life and death of her sister Ruth; in the process, she gives a devastating account of the toll her investigation takes on her own mental health.

ALPHAGO – USA / Director: Greg Kohs
The ancient Chinese game called Go is said to have more board configurations than there are atoms in the universe. This fascinating documentary takes viewers from the coding terminals of Google DeepMind in London to a tournament in Seoul, where a legendary Go master is set to compete against a computer program in an epic battle of wits: can the human brain outsmart artificial intelligence?

DID YOU WONDER WHO FIRED THE GUN? – USA / Director: Travis Wilkerson
Filmmaker Travis Wilkerson turns the camera on his own family to expose a dark secret in this unflinching personal documentary. Returning to his hometown of Dothan, Alabama, he discovers that his great-grandfather, a white supremacist, once shot and killed a black man but was never charged with the murder—and that any historical trace of his victim is gone.

FACES PLACES – France / Director: JR, Agnès Varda
At 89 years old, Agnès Varda, one of the leading figures of the French New Wave, teamed up with acclaimed 33-year-old French photographer JR to co-direct this enchanting documentary-meets-road movie. As they travel around France in JR’s truck producing large-scale photographic portraits of the locals they meet along the way, they reveal the humanity in their subjects—and themselves.

NO MAN’S LAND– USA / Director: David Byars
Director-cinematographer David Byars had remarkable access to the protesters occupying Oregon’s Malheur National Wildlife Refuge during their 41-day armed standoff with federal authorities in 2016. This gripping documentary reveals the inner workings of the insurrection as it examines what draws Americans to the concept of revolution.

STRAD STYLE – USA / Director: Stefan Avalos
Meet Danny Houck—a down-on-his-luck, Stradivarius-obsessed recluse in rural Ohio who has somehow convinced a famous European concert violinist that he can make a copy of one of the world’s rarest and most valuable violins. A hilariously poignant and suspenseful documentary about the true meaning of chutzpah.

AMERICAN INDEPENDENT NARRATIVE AWARD FINALISTS

DISCREET – USA/Brazil / Director: Travis Mathews
After years in hiding and struggling to control his demons, an eccentric drifter returns home and discovers that his childhood abuser, the center of his pain, is still alive.

GOLDEN EXITS – USA / Director: Alex Ross Perry
Writer-director Alex Ross Perry (The Color Wheel, SDFF34) explores the torment of modern domestic life, with a fabulous ensemble cast—including Mary-Louise Parker, Jason Schwartzman, Chloë Sevigny, Keith Poulson and the Beastie Boys’ Adam Horovitz—on hand to embrace both the dramatic and darkly comedic sides of despair.

THE MISOGYNISTS – USA / Director: Onur Tukel
This dark, claustrophobic satire stars Dylan Baker (Happiness) as Cameron, a lonely businessman celebrating Trump’s election in a hotel room after a bitter separation from his wife of 35 years. As the night progresses, friends, colleagues and strangers come and go, debating politics and what it means to be an American—among them a pair of prostitutes facing an existential crisis of their own.

MR. ROOSEVELT – USA / Director: Noël Wells
Comedian Noël Wells (Saturday Night Live, Master of None) wrote, directed and stars in this charming comedy. Like Wells, Emily has racked up millions of YouTube hits for her video sketches. But unlike Wells, she can’t quite make it in Los Angeles. When she receives news of a death in the family, she rushes back to Austin to find her ex-boyfriend—and everything else—has changed.

THE STRANGE ONES – USA / Directors: Christopher Radcliff, Lauren Wolkstein
A young man and a boy travel by car through a wooded American landscape. Who are they? Where are they going? Are they on the run? The boy seems disturbed, haunted by memories of nameless violence, and the mood is one of foreboding—but the more we learn, the less we understand in this artful coming-of-age mystery.

THIRST STREET – France/USA / Director: Nathan Silver
While on layover in Paris, a lonely American flight attendant has a rendezvous with a seedy nightclub bartender and becomes tangled in a web of misunderstandings, masochistic tendencies, & unrequited amour fou in this homage to the erotic dramas of 1970s Europe from returning fest guest Nathan Silver (Actor Martinez, DFF39).

TRUE GRIT BEST COLORADO FEATURE FILM AWARD FINALISTS

COLORADO FEATURE FILMS

AMY & SOPHIA – UK/USA / Director: Adam Lipsius
An unlikely friendship forms when two troubled girls, haunted by their past, forge a shared future by using art as an escape from the present in this magical-realist drama.

GNAW – USA / Director: Haylar Garcia
Jennifer Conrad is a small-town girl starting over in the big city. Fleeing an abusive relationship, all she wants is a chance to become whole again. But that’s hard to do when something is eating at you while you sleep—literally. This horror flick by Colorado filmmaker Haylar Garcia delves with equal gusto into paranormal and psychological phenomena.

HOME TRUTH – USA / Directors: Katia Maguire, April Hayes
In 1999, Colorado mother Jessica Gonzales experienced every parent’s worst nightmare when her three young daughters were killed after being abducted by their father. Determined to make sure their deaths were not in vain, Gonzales became an advocate for domestic-violence victims, taking her case to the US Supreme Court and beyond. At once troubling and inspiring, this documentary tells her story.

HONDROS – USA/Iraq/Liberia/Libya / Director: Greg Campbell
Pulitzer Prize-finalist photographer Chris Hondros spent a decade documenting wars in Kosovo, Afghanistan, Liberia and Libya, until he was killed while on assignment for Getty Images in 2011. Directed by fellow journalist and lifelong friend Greg Campbell, this eloquent documentary pays tribute to the late photojournalist’s courageous and compassionate career.

JONBENET’S TRICYCLE – USA / Director: Andrew Novick
Andrew Novick is a Mile High legend as (among other things) an obsessive collector. He reveals some of his strangest acquisitions—including JonBenet Ramsey’s tricycle—in this quirky autobiographical documentary, which is also an investigation of the human urge to possess what we value and of the impact pop culture and the media have on our experience of tragedy.

LIYANA – Swaziland/USA/Qatar / Directors: Aaron Kopp, Amanda Kopp
The lives and extraordinary imaginations of five orphans at a storytelling workshop in Swaziland are captured in this enchanting, moving and highly acclaimed documentary from Colorado filmmakers Aaron and Amanda Kopp.

MOVING PARTS – Trinidad and Tobago/USA / Director: Emilie Upczak
In this unique personal drama of human trafficking—written and directed by Boulder native Emilie Upczak—Zhenzhen follows her brother to Trinidad and Tobago with the help of a smuggler. When her new restaurant job proves dangerously unpleasant, a local art gallery owner helps her fight to secure her future.

WALDEN: LIFE IN THE WOODS – USA / Director: Alex Harvey
Shot on location in Colorado, this radical Western re-imagining of Thoreau’s eponymous classic interlaces three narratives that take place over 24 hours to consider the trappings of modern life and the unlikely heroes who dream of escape.

COLORADO SHORT FILMS

CHOCOLATE SPOKES – USA / Directors: Brendan Leonard
CHOWDER – USA / Director: Justin Tyrrell, Travis Lindner
THE DAY BEFORE – USA / Directors: Geoff Marslett
DIVING MONKEYS – USA / Director: Elizabeth Henry
DREAMSPOOK – FEAR IN LOVE – USA / Directors: Joseph Kolean
FED TO FIRE – USA / Director: Joseph Dasteel
FINAL FOUR – USA / Directors: Dario Ortega
MRS. DRAKE – USA / Director: Caitlin FitzGerald
OH, OPHELIA – USA / Directors: Dakota Nanton
THE OUTSIDER – USA / Director: Scott Takeda
THE ROMANTIC METHOD – USA / Directors: Maggie Hart
UNSEEN – USA / Director: Kaleb Kohart

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