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Denver Film Festival: 30 Years, 48 Hours, and 1 Mile High

Denver Film Festival: 30 Years, 48 Hours, and 1 Mile High

It was a hurried 48 hours this weekend, for my visit to the 30th Starz Denver Film Festival. Only hours after landing, it was time for me to join fellow bloggers Karina Longworth, Jimmy Israel, AJ Schnack, and Mark Rabinowitz for a panel on the film blogosphere. The session was laid-back and fun, as all of us are friends and readers of each other’s blogs, so it was fairly easy. I think the audience (a mix of filmmakers, bloggers, and curious newcomers) was into it, as well. At least they pretended to be. Now, lemme stop here to talk about something very sad. Moments before the panel, Mark Rabinowitz shared that he was gonna have to return to New York a day early because his father was “dying.”

We were bummed to hear this news, and we knew Mark’s dad (well into his 90s) had been ailing for some time. So, we did the panel. As we started exiting the panel room, Mark disappeared. He emerged, and walked over to me and said, “My dad died.” Crushed, Mark still soldiered on and all of us gave our respects and toasted Mr. Rabinowitz and his amazing legacy. Rest in peace.

(Mark Rabinowitz, left, with Denver Film Festival chief Britta Erickson on Friday night. Only hours before Mark would hop on a plane back to Manhattan.)

Saturday was a mixture of unexpected meetings (there are apparently lots of local filmmakers with features in the works) and a couple of screenings. I made it a point to see Julian Schnabel’s French-language The Diving Bell and the Butterfly for the second time, after catching its Cannes premiere in May. I wanted to see the film again, with an American audience, and get a sense of whether or not I still loved it as much as I thought. I was thrilled to find out that, yes indeed, I love this film even more. Schnabel’s third feature is so good, so beautiful, so sad, and so uplifting. I could go on and on, but I won’t. I just really cannot recommend this film enough. It’s worth the price of admission alone for the shot of a woman’s hair blowing into the camera while riding in a convertible set to U2’s “Ultraviolet.” See what I mean. That’s just one of many onscreen moments from the film, that I think will haunt me for a while.

Saturday night was spent attending the awards ceremony/closing night film, August Rush. A small group of us (including jurors David Ansen of Newsweek and David D’Arcy of GreenCine) decided to skip the film and have dinner instead. An appearance by star Keri Russell wasn’t enough to save August Rush from some pretty bad word-of-mouth later at the Closing Night party. We still had a great time, and the festival really treats their guests right. I hope to return some day. Meanwhile, here are some more pictures I took during my fast 48 hours at this year’s Denver Film Festival:

(Skills Like This director Monty Miranda, right, with his wife Molly outside the Starz Film Center on Friday night. Monty’s Denver-made feature won the SXSW Narrative Audience Award this year, and played to three sold-out screenings in its hometown this week.)

(Austin-based filmmaker Bob Ray hangs out at the Filmmakers Lounge. Bob’s new documentary feature, Hell On Wheels, screened at the Denver Film Festival. It premiered at SXSW this year.)

(On Saturday night, Karina Longworth of the SpoutBlog and Denver fest PR superstar Jenny Chikes, have a drink and get ready for the event’s end.)

(At the awards ceremony on Saturday, left to right, here’s David Wilson of the True/False Film Festival, Kurt Cobain About A Son director AJ Schnack, and indieWIRE’s Brian Brooks. The trio comprised the Denver documentary jury, and their winning film was Knee Deep.)

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