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10 Things I Liked About the Denver Film Festival

10 Things I Liked About the Denver Film Festival

Just got back from my quick weekend trip to the 31st annual Starz Denver Film Festival. Attendees were met with great weather, great films, and a lot of late nights. I honestly wish I could have made the trip longer, but it was better to experience some of it, than none at all. Since my 48 hours in Denver was so brief and scattered, I figured the best way to wrap up my experience, would be a scattered and brief list of 10 things I liked about my weekend at the festival:

1. The panel on Saturday
I participated in a panel discussion about digital/online distribution. It was actually a really great and refreshing conversation from a well-rounded group of speakers. It also allowed me to speak openly about the Denver Film Festival’s decision to pull Mary Bronstein’s Yeast from the program after we streamed if for a weekend on Dailymotion. The discussion was good, and some cool info was shared.

2. James Gray and Bill Pullman
Two Lovers director James Gray and Surveillance star Bill Pullman also spent the weekend at the Denver Film Festival, and I must say, these two guys are some of the most friendly and funny festival guests I’ve ever had the pleasure interacting with. Pullman is as gracious as ever, even if bystanders outside a theater mistake him for Jeff Daniels. Gray was holding court on Friday night, with amusing stories about how the altitude was affecting his head.

3. Trinidad has its Colorado premiere
I arrived to the festival too late, but our documentary Trinidad reportedly had a great Colorado premiere. We always hoped the film, which profiles a small town only a few hours from Denver, would play this festival for its local debut. And, I’m happy it did.

4. The Late Night Lounge
A Denver Film Festival tradition maintains its edge, as fest guests gathered every night till 4 a.m. for assorted activities. Drinks poured, food served, dancefloor crowded, and enough Wii sports to keep you up too late.

5. The bison steak at Ted’s
On Saturday night, about a dozen of us had a great steak dinner at Ted’s, in downtown Denver. The bison is so fresh, I think I saw my dinner on the drive into town Friday afternoon.

6. Denver’s 150th Birthday
Saturday was the 150th birthday of Denver, Colorado. The festival celebrated this milestone with the mayor, at a reception held prior to the Closing Night film.

7. Overture Films
Starz is not just a hometown business in Denver, but also the parent company of new distributor Overture Films. Overture’s Christmas Day release, Last Chance Harvey starring Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson, was the festival’s Closing Night Film. Without the director or stars in attendance, a Starz exec introduce the film. It was one of the most unusual introductions I’ve ever seen at a film festival, because it was more about Overture as a company than it was about the film about to screen.

8. Don Hertzfeldt
To my pleasant surprise, I shared my Sunday shuttle ride to the airport with Oscar-nominated animation director Don Hertzfeldt. He screened some of his work at the festival, the night before. We’d never met, even though I programmed his films for SXSW.

9. Free chair massages
What’s not to like about the free chair massages in the Festival Lounge?

10. Brit & Britta
Denver Film Festival dynamic duo Brit Withey and Britta Erickson deserve kudos. They put together a great festival, but they also did this only a few short months after organizing the Cinemocracy film events held during the Democratic National Convention in Denver. Congrats!

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