Starz Denver International Film Festival to Open with "Human Stain"; Honors for Coppola and a New Stan Brakhage Award
by Brian Brooks
The Starz Denver International Film Festival is readying for its 26th outing beginning October 9th with a line-up of over 175 films with eight world premieres, three U.S. premieres and a number of movies from Colorado filmmakers included in the roster. Denver will open the event with Robert Benton's drama "The Human Stain" starring Sir Anthony Hopkins, Nicole Kidman, Gary Sinise, and Ed Harris. The festival's centerpiece feature is Jim Sheridan's tale of Irish immigrants based on his own experiences in New York in, "In America."
World premieres at the festival will include a mix of documentaries and comedies. International offerings that will debut include Czech director Vladimir Voramik's "Bored in Brno" about two athletes who meet at a competition and later hope to reconnect. From Iran the festival will premiere "Silence of the Sea" by Vahid Mousaian, the story of an Iranian exile in Sweden who risks his life returning to his family and his country. Child poverty is the subject of Haitian doc, "Haiti's Small Miracles" by Julie Speer Hunniford. Brian Patrick's "Burying the Past" recalls a little-known 1857 massacre by a Mormon militia, which killed 140 men, women and children traveling from California to Arkansas by wagon train.
Ra'anan Alexandrowicz's "James' Journey to Jerusalem" will have its U.S. premiere in Denver. The film follows an African youth, on a pilgrimage to the ancient Israeli city, who is arrested as an illegal immigrant but is then 'saved' by a modern-day slave trader. Also screening is Sundance 2003 competition film, "Pieces of April" by Peter Hedges, Billy Ray's Toronto and Telluride 2003 feature, "Shattered Glass," Campbell Scott's "Off the Map," Sue Brooks' "Japanese Story," which screened in Cannes, and Toronto 2003 opener, "Les Invasions Barbares" (The Barbarian Invasions) by Denys Arcand.
This year, the festival will pay tribute to Italian cinema with a Fellini sidebar as well as a screening of filmmaker Pupi Avati's romantic comedy "A Heart Elsewhere," also a U.S. premiere. Films from France and Mexico will also be spotlighted.
This year's recipient of the annual Mayor's Lifetime Achievement award will be Francis Ford Coppola, presented by Denver mayor John Hickenlooper following the screening of Coppola's 1982 film, "One from the Heart." DIFF will also inaugurate a new award honoring the avant-garde named after the late film artist Stan Brakhage. New York Film Festival founder Amos Vogel will be the first to receive the annual award, which is called the Stan Brakhage Vision award.
Closing the festival on October 19th will be Wayne Kramer's Sundance 2003 feature, "The Cooler" starring William H. Macy. Macy will attend the festival to receive the John Cassavetes award for achievement and vision in American Cinema.
The Starz Denver International Film Festival is the flagship program of the Denver Film Society (DFS), a cultural institution founded in 1977 to promote film as an art form in Colorado. DFS also organizes an array of year-round programs and special events at its permanent home at the Starz Film Center.
[For more information visit: www.denverfilm.org]