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Denver Film Festival Sets Galas and Competition for 34th Event

Denver Film Festival Sets Galas and Competition for 34th Event

Drake Doremus’ “Like Crazy” will open the 34th Starz Denver Film Festival, slated for November 2 – 13. Also on tap is Alexander Payne’s “The Descendants,” which had its premiere Sunday night at the close of the New York Film Festival. “Descendants” will screen in Denver as the festival’s Centerpiece film, while “The Artist” will close out the 12-day event. In all, 275 films from 47 countries will screen during the event.

“We are excited to be ‘roll out the red’ and welcome over 150 filmmakers and industry professionals to Denver for our annual cinematic celebration,” commented Britta Erickson, Denver Festival Director in a statement. “This year’s festival marks two significant milestones for the Denver Film Society, the first anniversary of the very successful opening of the Denver FilmCenter/Colfax, which proved to be the right move at the right time for our organization, and the last time the festival will unspool at our home of the past ten years, the Starz FilmCenter at the Tivoli.”

“With more than 250 films screening in this year’s festival, SDFF34 is the largest program we’ve ever produced—and perhaps the most eclectic,” added Brit Withey, DFF Artistic Director. “We’re extremely pleased with the incredibly diverse mix of recognizable masters and young talents that will be on display and look forward to showcasing their work.”

Competition, red carpet presentations, and more titles from the 34th Starz Denver Film Festival follow with information provided by the event.

Red Carpet Presentations:

Like Crazy
Opening Night Presentation
Director: Drake Doremus
Drake Doremus fashions the heartbreaking tale—already dubbed the Love Story for a new generation —of a British college student (Felicity Jones) and an American classmate (Anton Yelchin) whose passionate love affair is put to the test when she violates her visa and gets deported.

The Descendants
Big Night Presentation
Director: Alexander Payne
Superstar George Clooney’s new vehicle is this comedy-drama from director Alexander Payne (Sideways, Election) about a baffled husband and father in Hawaii who discovers his wife is having an affair—and takes action.

The Artist
Closing Night Presentation
Director: Michel Hazanavicius
French director Michel Hazanavicius has dared to make a silent film in black and white. Set in Hollywood in 1927, it echoes Singin’ in the Rain and A Star Is Born as a matinee idol on the wane falls for a female extra destined for stardom in talkies.

Special Presentations:

Director: Jim Field Smith
British director Jim Field Smith’s clever (and unmistakably metaphorical) comedy stars Jennifer Garner as a ruthless Iowa housewife who will do anything to win the annual butter-carving contest—enlisting the help of her dumb ex-boyfriend (Hugh Jackman) to pull off her dirty tricks.

Director: Ralph Fiennes
Making his directorial debut, Ralph Fiennes stars as Shakespeare’s deeply flawed Roman military hero in a disturbing update now set amid 21st-century guerilla insurgencies and the incessant blare of cable TV news.

A Dangerous Method
Director: David Cronenberg
The famous rift between Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung has fascinated psychiatrists and historians for decades—not least because they shared a patient who was also Jung’s lover. The ever-provocative David Cronenberg (The Fly) brings it all to life, with Viggo Mortensen as Freud, Michael Fassbinder as Jung, and Keira Knightley as their “hysteric.”

Jeff Who Lives at Home
Reel Social Club Presentation
Director: Jay Duplass, Mark Duplass
Mumblecore masters Jay and Mark Duplass set their new comedy about two mismatched brothers in Baton Rouge. Upstanding Pat (Ed Helms) suspects his wife of cheating, so he brings Jeff (Jason Segel)—the dreamy pot smoker living in Mom’s basement—along for some goofy detective work. Susan Sarandon, as Mom, is in scene-stealing form.

Opening Night of Denver Film Center/Colfax presentation
Director: Lars von Trier
Danish auteur (and provocateur) Lars von Trier opens this meditation on depression, death, and the end of the world at a sun-splashed wedding in a beautiful castle and finishes with a huge planet called Melancholia hurtling straight toward the earth.

Director: Steve McQueen
Handsome matinee idol Michael Fassbinder portrays a helpless Manhattan sex addict in director Steve McQueen’s disturbing (and unblinkingly graphic) study of a man being destroyed by his own desire. Carey Mulligan is his needy sister, who comes complete with some serious baggage of her own.

We Need to Talk About Kevin
Director: Lynne Ramsay
Oscar winner Tilda Swinton stars in Lynne Ramsay’s harrowing adaptation of a novel—part horror movie, part psychological thriller—about a guilt-ridden wife and mother trying to cope after her son commits a terrible act. John C. Reilly costars as the mild husband, Ezra Miller the bad seed.

Wish Me Away
Director: Bobbie Birleffi, Beverly Kopf
This intimate documentary, which took the jury prize at the 2011 Los Angeles Film Festival, follows chart-topping country singer-songwriter Chely Wright through weeks of inner turmoil as the date she has set for coming out draws near. Tearful yet resolute, the star now uses her fame to lend support to gay youth.

Films in Competition

The Krzysztof Kieslowski Award for Best Feature Film:

The Turin Horse (A torinói ló)
Director: Béla Tarr
In the strangely hypnotic, metaphorically rich film Hungarian director Belá Tarr says will be his last, a weather-beaten 19th-century farmer and his daughter struggle against the elements for survival, bedeviled by an enigmatic horse that just may have once encountered Friedrich Nietzsche.

The Day He Arrives (Book chon bang hyang)
Director: Hong Sang-soo
South Korean director Hong Sang-soo provides a self-referential, seriocomic portrait of a brawling, drunken, desperate film director in crisis, combining elements of 8 1/2 with the man-in-a-wheel repetitions of Groundhog Day.

The Fairy (La fee)
Director: Dominique Abel, Bruno Romy, Fiona Gordon
Featuring slapstick and sparse dialogue, this engaging frolic stylistically resembles the greats of the silent-film era. Dom, a hotel night clerk, finds himself granted three wishes by newly arrived guest Fiona, a self-proclaimed fairy. He asks for a scooter and enough petrol for life—but then what?

Director: Paddy Considine
In actor Paddy Considine’s impressive filmmaking debut, an angry widower tangles with a vulnerable Christian woman, who mees his violent outbursts with compassion. Stellar performances anchor this gritty, character-driven drama.

Le Havre
Director: Aki Kaurismäki
Le Havre looks like a 1960s B-movie, but its storyline is wholly contemporary. Finland’s official entry for best foreign-language film at next year’s Academy Awards offers a light-hearted look at shoeshine man Marcel’s efforts to provide safe harbor for a young African immigrant.

The House (Dom)
Director: Zuzana Liová
The crusty Slovakian father in Zuzana Liová’s satirically laced drama debut dreams of building a house for each of his two daughters on the family’s plot of land—but the girls, of course, have other plans. Leading man Miroslav Krobot is simultaneously a pain in the neck and a joy to behold.

Director: Rúnar Rúnarsson
Writer-director Rúnar Rúnarsson describes his feature debut as a coming-of-age story about a 67-year-old man. Against the backdrop of an Icelandic coastal town decimated by a volcano in the 1970s, this understated but moving drama examines existential loss and familial reconnection.

The New Directors Award:

American Animal
Director: Matt D’Elia
Jimmy is sick. But Jimmy is tired of being sick, so this morning, Jimmy decides he is no longer sick—he’s happy. An existential fantasy set in a downtown LA loft, Matt D’Elia’s debut feature walks the line between silliness and madness, all the while nodding to classic cinema. Jimmy, it’s showtime!

Bad Fever
Director: Dustin Guy Defa
Dustin Guy Defa’s dramatic feature debut is a wrenching portrait of lonely souls roaming an empty city in desperate need of connection. Kentucker Audley is astonishing as true antihero Eddie, a would-be stand-up comic attempting to win the heart of a drifter.
The Destiny of Lesser Animals.

Director: Deron Albright
Part crime drama, part personal quest, Deron Albright’s first feature focuses on a Ghanian police inspector whose fondest wish is to return to the United States a decade after being deported. First, however, he’ll need to extract himself from the series of intrigues in which he’s entangled.

The Dish and the Spoon
Director: Alison Bagnall
In Alison Bagnall’s often humorous, always poignant indie drama, a hysterical wife seeks revenge on her straying husband by forming an unlikely friendship with a vulnerable British boy she finds asleep in an abandoned lighthouse. Rising stars Greta Gerwig and Olly Alexander turn in utterly luminous performances.

The Dynamiter
Director: Matthew Gordon
In rural Mississippi, teenaged Robbie cares for his elderly grandmother and young half-brother while his absentee mother sends the occasional postcard. The return of older brother Lucas threatens the little stability this makeshift family has—and it’s up to Robbie to defend it in this intensely moving snapshot of a forgotten America.

Director: Sophia Takal
Writer-director-costar Sophia Takal’s unflinching exploration of triangulated romance follows Genevieve and Sebastian from Brooklyn to a remote farm in the South, where they form an easy friendship with their neighbor, Robin. But when Genevieve begins to suspect Robin and Sebastian are falling for each other, the pastoral landscape grows dark.

Maria My Love
Director: Jasmine McGlade Chazelle
Jasmine McGlade Chazelle’s witty feature debut examines the unlikely friendship between a young café waitress who’s grieving the death of her mother and a strangely insightful maternal figure (Hollywood veteran Karen Black)—who also happens to be a compulsive hoarder.

The Maysles Brothers Award for Best Documentary:

Director: Kim Ki-duk
In 2008, the once-prolific Korean director Kim Ki-duk watched as his leading actress suffered a near-fatal on-set injury. Traumatized, the devout Buddhist went into hiding and has not re-emerged—except in the form of this raw, corrosive, self-critical video diary that addresses life, death, and the purposes of art.

The Bengali Detective
Director: Phil Cox
Rajesh is a private investigator in Kolkata who’s passionate about his family, his job—and fancy footwork. This one-of-a-kind documentary follows the chubby detective as he tries to crack murder, counterfeiting, and adultery cases as well as win a national TV dance contest.

The Green Wave
Director: Ali Samadi Ahadi
Using a compelling combination of cellphone and online footage, animation, and first-person interviews, The Green Wave documents Iran’s 2009 Green Revolution—from the movement’s sweeping hopes for a liberated Iran to the violence protestors faced following the re-election of conservative dictator Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Holy Rollers: The True Story of Card Counting Christians
Director: Bryan Storkel
Holy Rollers chronicles the ups and downs of Churchteam, a group of card-counting Christians trained to beat the casinos at blackjack. The obvious moral conflict becomes the focus of this amusingly revealing documentary: how does a group of true believers come to worship at the altar of the almighty dollar? The answers may surprise you.

One Night Stand
Director: Elisabeth Sperling, Trish Dalton
One Night Stand joyfully documents the anxiety, camaraderie, and artistry that unfold when Broadway’s best actors, writers, composers, and directors collaborate to create and perform four mini-musicals in 24 hours for an annual fundraiser in New York City.

You’ve Been Trumped
Director: Anthony Baxter
When business tycoon Donald Trump decides to build his next luxury golf resort on the environmentally pristine coast north of Aberdeen, Scotland, local residents rise up in protest. You’ve Been Trumped documents the Goliath’s sword they take to corporate America in all its greed and denial.

Wish Me Away
Director: Bobbie Birleffi, Beverly Kopf
This intimate documentary, which took the jury prize at the 2011 Los Angeles Film Festival, follows chart-topping country singer-songwriter Chely Wright through weeks of inner turmoil as the date she has set for coming out draws near. Tearful yet resolute, the star now uses her fame to lend support to gay youth.

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