Denver Film Festival celebrates 45 years, more than 225 films

For 12 days, Denver Film will host 4 Red Carpet events and presentations of feature films as well as documentaries, shorts, music videos, immersive and virtual reality programming. There will be round tables, parties and competitions.

“Our opening night film is ‘Armageddon Time,’ which is James Gray’s new film starring Anthony Hopkins, Anne Hathaway and Jeremy Strong from ‘Succession’. So this will be a great opportunity to kick off the festival,” said said Kevin Smith, CEO of Denver Film.

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The Festival begins with an opening night at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House, before the screening of “Armageddon Time”. Other red carpet events include the presentation of the centerpiece of Sam Mendes’ “Empire of Light”; the Big Night presentation of “Loudmouth” chronicling the career of the Reverend Al Sharpton; and closing night presentation.

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“Our closing film is Sarah Polley’s new film about women, and it’s a star-studded cast. One of the best films I’ve seen all year, so I think it’s going to be a wonderful way to wrap up the Festival,” Smith told Karen Leigh of CBS News Colorado.

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Irish actor Jamie Dornan at the 44th Denver Film Festival in 2021.

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There will be 15 special presentations throughout the Festival, including “She Said,” which discusses journalism that exposed the extent of sexual assault in Hollywood and supported the #MeToo movement; “The Inspection”, a semi-biographical story about a young gay black man who joins the Marines; and “Good Night Oppy”, about a rover sent to Mars for a 90-day mission, and which survived for 15 years.

“‘The Whale,’ which is the Samuel Hunter movie. It was a play that started here in Denver. A really amazing movie that I think people are going to enjoy,” Smith explained.

44th Denver Film Festival 2021
Actor Jamie Dornan and UK/Ireland Spotlight for Denver Film founder Sheila K. O’Brien during a Q&A before a special screening of the film ‘Belfast’ during the 44th Denver Film Festival in Denver Botanic Gardens Sturm Family Auditorium on November October 10, 2021 in Denver.

Thomas Cooper/Getty Images


This year’s Colorado Spotlight includes 7 feature films and 12 Colorado-related shorts.

“Two of the highlights, one is ‘The Holly,’ which is based on Julian Rubinstein’s book and follows activist Terrance Roberts, which I think will be a very interesting conversation as we enter the season election and everything that’s going on there,” Smith said. “Another movie is called ‘This Is Not Who We Are,’ which is set in Boulder and really looks at systemic racism and how we can hopefully change that.”

During the 12 days, several special guests will come to Denver. Samuel D. Hunter will receive the Denver Film Festival Excellence in Writing Award for his screenplay “The Whale”. Raúl Castillo will receive the Denver Film Festival Excellence in Acting Award for his work in “The Inspection”. The Denver Film Festival’s Stan Brakhage Vision Award will go to filmmaker James Benning, and the Italian Filmmaker Maria and Tommaso Maglione Award will go to writer and director Mario Martone for his film “The King of Laughter.”

The Denver Film Festival will feature over 225 films from 58 countries. Film sections include CinemaQ, spotlighting the LGBTQ+ community; Colorado Dragon Boat Film Festival, highlighting Asian and Asian American cinema; J’Adore, a selection of French-language films; The Color of Conversation, highlighting the African-American community; and the Italian Showcase, a selection of Italian films.

“Diversity and inclusion are definitely fundamental aspects of the Denver Film Festival, and have been for 45 years since we’ve been here,” Smith said. “I think representation is so important now more than ever. When you’re talking about big studio movies, it’s time for them to catch up. I think independent film work has done a better job. There’s definitely a lot more work to do, but giving young people, in particular, the opportunity to see themselves on screen is so important and it’s an important part of our festival.”

LINK: Tickets and information on the 45th Denver Film Festival

The 45th Denver Film Festival runs November 2-13, 2022, with screenings at the Sie Film Center, Tattered Cover, Ellie Caulkins Opera House, Denver Botanic Gardens, and AMC 9+ CO 10.

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