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Denver Film Festival (SDFF29) line up

The 29th Starz Denver Film Festival (SDFF29), produced by the Denver Film Society, rolls out the red carpet November 9 - 19, 2006. This year’s festival features a Salute to Canadian Cinema and will screen over 200 films with 14 premieres (2 world premieres, 5 North American premieres and 8 U.S premieres).

29 countries are represented this year: Argentina, Austria, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, India, Iran, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Mongolia, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Poland, Romania, Russia, South Korea, Spain, Thailand, Turkey, and USA.
This year’s event will host hundreds of actors, directors, writers, producers, and industry professionals from around the world who will be on hand to discuss their craft at screenings, panels, and parties. Regular screenings will take place at the Denver Film Society’s permanent home, the Starz FilmCenter at the Tivoli on the Auraria Campus. Opening Night (11/9) will take place at the Ellie Caukins Opera House, Big Night (11/16) and Closing Night (11/18) will take place at the Buell Theatre.
“We are very excited to announce the lineup for the 29th Starz Denver Film Festival,” festival director Ron Henderson said. “This year’s program is notable for its geographic diversity enhanced by a 15-film salute to Canadian cinema, and illuminated by more than 140 visiting film artists from around the world, including directors Anthony Minghella, Allan King, and Wu Tianming, and actors Tim Robbins, David Strathairn, and Scott Wilson. Beginning November 9, I hope you will join us in celebrating the best of world cinema. After all, your seat is waiting.”
“Starz has been very pleased with the selection of films each year at the Starz Denver Film Festival given its focus on the impressive scope of worldwide filmmaking,” said Robert Clasen, Chairman and CEO, Starz Entertainment. “The Festival has consistently provided to Colorado audiences with the first or very early looks at the work of important filmmakers domestically and internationally.”
Starz Entertainment is the premier sponsor of the 29th Starz Denver Film Festival.
This year’s theme Your Seat is Waiting invites filmgoers into share in the festival experience. The diverse array of features, documentaries, animated films, and shorts in this year’s festival will allow fans of Hollywood and those who look for independent fare alike to find something to keep them on the edge of their seat.


Opening Night Film
Thursday, November 9 at 8pm at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House

BREAKING AND ENTERING is the latest film from Academy Award-winning director Anthony Minghella. The acclaimed filmmaker reunites with Jude Law, who earned both his Oscar nods from Minghella films – THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY and COLD MOUNTAIN, and Juliette Binoche, who earned an Academy Award for Minghella’s THE ENGLISH PATIENT.

BREAKING AND ENTERING is a thoughtful look at life in present-day London. Law plays Will Francis, a high-end landscape architect whose too- comfortable lifestyle is disrupted by a burglary which leads him to meet a Bosnian refugee (Binoche).

Big Night
Friday, November 16 at 8pm at the Buell Theatre

This year, at Big Night, SDFF29 will present actor/director Tim Robbins with the John Cassavetes Award following a clips performance highlighting his extraordinary career. Robbins will also be interviewed from stage by Robert Denerstein, film critic, Rocky Mountain News. A celebration will be held after the program at the historic Oxford Hotel.

SDFF29 will feature a very special late night screening of TENACIOUS D IN ‘THE PICK OF DESTINY,’ at the Starz FilmCenter at 11:30pm. Tim Robbins will make an appearance at the screening.

In TENACIOUS D IN ‘THE PICK OF DESTINY,’ naïve Midwesterner JB (Jack Black) bonds with KG (Kyle Glass) and they form the rock band Tenacious D. Becoming the world’s greatest rock band is no easy feat, so young rockers decide to tip the scales in their favor by stealing a magical guitar pick housed in a rock-and-roll museum 300 miles away.

Closing Night Film
Saturday, November 18 at 8pm at the Buell Theatre

Christian Bale stars as Deiter Dengler, a German-born pilot so eager for adventure that he volunteers for the Vietnam War. Once in the air, the gung-ho Dieter is almost immediately shot down; captured by Laotian soldiers and dumped in a brutal prison camp to face torture and starvation. Dieter convinces the other American soldiers to attempt an escape; he knows the jungle is every bit as dangerous as the camp but is unwilling to leave his fate in the hands of the enemy.

SDFF29 is pleased to present the following distinguished awards this year:

Mayor’s Career Achievement Award: Anthony Minghella
Anthony Minghella will be presented with this year’s Mayor’s Career Achievement Award at the premiere of BREAKING AND ENTERING on Opening Night Thursday, November 9 at the Ellie Caukins Opera House at 8pm. BREAKING AND ENTERING is the latest film from Academy Award- winning director Anthony Minghella and a thoughtful look at life in present-day London. Jude Law plays Will Francis, a high-end landscape architect whose too-comfortable lifestyle is disrupted by a burglary which leads him to meet a Bosnian refugee played by Juliette Binoche.

John Cassavetes Award: Tim Robbins
The Denver Film Society created the John Cassavetes award in 1989 and presents it to a film artist who embodies the spirit of late actor/director John Cassavetes – his unique vision, his maverick sensibility, his unwavering integrity and his tenacious ability to survive as an artist against difficult odds. Previous winners include: Kevin Bacon, Philip Baker Hall, Richard Linklater, William H. Macy, Nick Nolte, Sean Penn, John Sayles, and Steven Soderbergh. This year’s John Cassavetes Award will go to actor Tim Robbins on Thursday, November 16 at the Buell Theatre at 8pm following a clips program highlighting his extraordinary career.

Stan Brakhage Vision Award: George Kuchar
The Stan Brakhage Vision Award is an achievement award recognizing a film industry professional who embodies the creative and artistic essence that made Brakhage known. This year, the San Brakhage Vision Award will be presented to George Kuchar on Saturday, November 11 at the Starz FilmCenter at 6:30pm. The evening will include a screening of three of George Kuchar’s films: ASCENSION OF THE DEMONOIDS (45 minutes), THE DESPERATE AND THE DEEP (20 minutes), and CATTLE MUTILATIONS (20 minutes), a post-screening discussion with the audience, and the award presentation.

Emerging Filmmaker Award
The Emerging Filmmaker Award is presented to a first or second-time director without U.S. distribution. This juried award is presented to the director and film that best displays technical proficiency, originality, artistic excellence and visual awareness while maintaining a consistent directorial vision. For the first time, a cash prize of $2500 will be awarded to the winner of the Emerging Filmmaker Award.


Jurors for the Emerging Filmmaker Award are Ram Bergman, Dia Sokol and John Vanco. The winner will be announced at the Closing Night ceremonies.

The Maysles Brothers Award for Best Documentary
The Maysles Brothers Award for Best Documentary is presented to a filmmaker who best represents the truth and purity of documentary filmmaking as established by the Maysles Brothers. For the first time, a cash prize of $2500 will be awarded to the winner of the Maysles Brothers Award.


Jurors for The Maysles Brothers Award are Christy George, Mark Rabbinowitz, and Mark Brian Smith. The winner will be announced at the Closing Night ceremonies.

Krzysztof Kieslowski Award for Best Feature Film presented by Screen International
Established in 1997, the Krzysztof Kieslowski Award for Best Foreign Feature was established under the auspices of the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland and in collaboration with the widow of the late director.


Screen International’s Mike Goodridge will chair the jury. Other jurors are: John Anderson, film critic and co-author of I Wake Up Screening, Polina Khursleva, filmmaker Jeremy Podeswa, and James M. Wall, senior contributing editor of The Christian Century in Chicago. Winner will be announced at Closing Night.

Starz People’s Choice Award
Moviegoers vote for their favorite film in the following categories: Feature-length Fiction, Documentary, and Short-subject. The Starz People’s Choice was presented in 2005 to MRS HENDERSON PRESENTS and TSOTSI (features), MUSIC IS MY LIFE, POLITICS MY MISTRESS: THE STORY OF OSCAR BROWN JR. (documentary), and THE MANTIS PARABLE (short).

The festival will present several special salutes and tributes including:

The 29th Starz Denver Film Festival is shining a spotlight on Canadian cinema providing an opportunity for filmgoers to explore Canadian culture and society. A total of 15 feature-length films and 10 shorts will be screened throughout the 11-day festival.

Chinese Director/Producer/Writer Wu Tianming
Wu Tianming is “a key component in the Fifth Generation of Chinese filmmakers.” (New York Times) Born in 1939, Wu’s films have a grave and honest approach to life. The deep emotions of his characters reflect his meditations towards society, history and Chinese culture. SDFF29 will screen two of Wu Tianming’s films: THE KING OF MASKS and C.E.O.

THE KING OF MASKS is a true story about aging street performer Wang Bianlian who is known as the King of Mask for his mastery of Sichuan Change Art. After turning down an offer to join the Sichuan Opera, Wang is sold a young boy by a slave trader posing as the child’s parent. Bianlian is happy teaching his rare and dying art to the child until he finds out the boy is actually a girl.

In C.E.O. Ling Min becomes the manager of Haier Factory when the company is almost bankrupt. Despite having no formal education, Ling overcomes many challenges from workers, technicians, and tough professional competition to become the first Chinese private company to enter the international market.

Scott Wilson
The 29th Starz Denver Film Festival (SDFF29) is pleased to announce AN EVENING WITH SCOTT WILSON, on Saturday, November 11, at 8:30pm to pay tribute to the internationally acclaimed actor. Scott Wilson will be interviewed by actor Tom Bower following a clips program that highlights his distinguished career and includes Wilson’s screen test for the 1967 film IN COLD BLOOD. Three other films featuring Wilson will be shown at the festival, SENSATION OF SIGHT, THE HOST and BEHIND THE MASK: THE RISE OF LESLIE VERNON.

SENSATION OF SIGHT, directed by Cheyenne, WY native, Aaron J. Wiederspahn, is a poetic exploration in which an introspective English teacher, after witnessing a tragedy for which he believes he is responsible, abandons his regular routine and begins selling encyclopedias to the town locals in the hope of finding meaning amid despair. David Straithairn (GOOD NIGHT AND GOOD LUCK) will attend the screening of SENSATION OF SIGHT.

THE HOST is one of the few giant monster flicks to come out of Korean cinema. An unidentified mass hanging from a bridge over the Han River suddenly reveals itself as a hideous monster that devours spectators in the riverbank and carries away the daughter of a snack vendor. The vendor and his family, including an alcoholic son and an archery champion daughter, decide they must fight the monster and save the young girl. THE HOST is frightening and tragic, yet cut with comic absurdity.

BEHIND THE MASK: THE RISE OF LESLIE VERNON, directed by Scott Glosserman, is a smart, witty, and refreshing offering from the slasher horror genre. BEHIND THE MASK is a mockumentary of the life of up-and-coming serial maniac Leslie Vernon who dreams of being ranked amongst characters like Freddy Krueger, Jason Vorrhees, and Michael Myers. Leslie invites a documentary film crew to join him on a killing spree to divulge the tricks of his trade.

Vilmos Zsigmond
An Evening with Vilmos Zsigmond will feature an eclectic selection of clips hand-picked by Zsigmond from some of the most memorable shots from his distinguished body of work including: THE HIRED HAND, SCARECROW, THE SHUGARLAND EXPRESS, CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND, THE DEER HUNTER, HEAVEN’S GATE, THE ROSE, McCABE & MRS. MILLER, THE WITCHES OF EASTWICK and STALIN.

2006 marks the 50th anniversary of the Hungarian uprising and the year that Vilmos Zsigmond and fellow countryman Laszlo Kovaks immigrated to the United States with dreams of becoming cinematographers. They arrived not speaking any English. Not only did they realize their dreams, the both became legends in the motion picture industry.

SDFF29 marks cinematic milestones in this year's festival:

Remembering the Legendary Gonzo Writer Hunter S. Thompson
Following the death of Hunter S. Tompson the Aspen Daily News held an essay contest for those people who wanted to volunteer their services – and their cannons – to blast Thompson’s ashes across his land. More than 50 private cannon owners submitted essays on why they should be chosen. Shortly after the contest was held, Johnny Depp stepped in and spent $2 million for a professional fireworks company to come in and take over the cannon firing. The submitted essays were later reprinted in Harper’s Magazine, but the cannons were never used. BLASTED!!! THE GONZO PATRIOTS OF HUNTER S. THOMPSON finally gives these people the chance to explain their rationale for wanting to honor Thompson’s last request – and a chance to fire their cannons. Director Blue Kraning will attend the world premiere on Saturday, November 18 at 1:30pm at the Starz FilmCenter.

This original documentary captures the legacy and “gonzo” spirit of one of this century’s most notorious figures – Hunter S. Thompson. BUY THE TICKET, TAKE THE RIDE features interviews with Hunter’s inner circle of family and friends, but the thrust of the documentary is focused on the manner in which his life often overlapped with numerous Hollywood celebrities who became his close friends, such as Johnny Depp, Benicio Del Toro, Bill Murray, Sean Penn, John Cusack, Hunter’s wife Anita, son Juan, former Senators George McGovern and Gary Hart, Tom Wolfe, William F. Buckley, Gary Busey, Harry Dean Stanton, Ralph Steadman and others. Director Tom Thurman will be at the screening on Sunday, November 12 at 1pm at the Starz FilmCenter with special introduction by Hunter pal, Bob Rafelson.

This film explores the most significant achievement of Hunter S. Thompson’s last years – the freeing of Lisl Auman, who was sentenced to life without parole at the age of 21 for the murder of a Denver police officer by someone she had just met while she was handcuffed in the back of a police car. Produced and directed by Wayne Ewing, the screening will be followed by a panel discussion featuring attorneys Hal Haddon and Gerry Robinson, Curtis Robinson (publisher of the Mountain Gazette), Juan Thompson (son of Hunter) and director Wayne Ewing on Saturday, November 11 at 3:30pm at the Denver Press Club.

A highlight of the final day of this year’s festival is a real treat: a gorgeous 35 mm print of one of the most important films of the silent era, King Vidor’s THE BIG PARADE, accompanied on the piano by the talented Hank Troy. This epic-scaled anti-war film is not only impressive in its scope but also to the characters. The dashing john Gilbert plays the son of a rich family who joins the Army in the early days of World War I. While stationed in France he becomes close to his fellow, largely working-class soldiers and falls in love with a French woman. His enthusiasm for battle, however, is tempered by the brutal reality of war.

In Memoriam: Glenn Ford
Few Hollywood actors were more dependable than Glenn Ford (1916-2006), who spent the better part of 50 years making dozens of films better than they might otherwise have been. He worked with Fritz Lang, Frank Capra, Blake Edwards, Anthony Mann, Joseph H. Lewis, and in this Oscar-nominated social drama, BLACKBOARD JUNGLE, Richard Brooks.

Ford plays a high school teacher confronted with a range of shockingly anti-social behavior. Teachers are beaten up, switchblades pulled, racial epithets hurled, and rock and roll played. BLACKBOARD JUNGLE’s best moments spotlight Ford and rising star Sidney Poitier as a troubled but gifted student. BLACKBOARD JUNGLE screens Wednesday, November 15 at 6:15pm at the Starz FilmCenter.

In Memoriam: Gordon Parks
As a photographer, Gordon Parks (1912-2006) was the first African American to appear on the masthead of Life magazine, photographing everything from the Black Panthers to New York fashion mavens. With THE LEARNING TREE, he became the first African American to direct a studio film. The story, which Parks adapted from his own novel, follows two teenage boys coping with love, sex, violence, and discrimination in a segregated Kansas town. THE LEARNING TREE strips away sensationalistic notions of race and class to offer a complex, nuanced coming-of-age story and a powerful exploration of the community-wide psychological impacts of segregation. THE LEARNING TREE screens Sunday, November 19 at 7:30pm at the Starz FilmCenter.

In Memoriam: Joel Ehrlich
Director Robert M. Young insists that his latest film HUMAN ERROR would never have been completed without the vision and the determination of the late Joel Ehrlich. “Joel was the kind of producer who was not afraid to let his heart get involved. He believed in the story and the film and wanted to make it happen,” Young recalled. HUMAN ERROR screens at this year’s festival as an homage to producer Joel Ehrlich who died in July in Denver after a year-long battle with pancreatic cancer.

With a blend of fantastic live-action and animation, the veteran indie director Young takes us on an Orwellian/Kafkaesque nightmare ride on his atmospheric HUMAN ERROR. In this self- proclaimed “post-industrial, pre-apocalyptic, existential comedy,” Young aims a cleverly crafted cautionary tale at the top ranks of today’s white- male-dominated society. Director Robert M. Young and actors Xander Berkeley, Tom Bower, and Robert Knott will attend the screening Saturday, November 11 at 6:45pm at the Starz FilmCenter.

Women’s Voices: Looking for Peace in the Middle East
Join filmmakers Lilly Rivlin, Samira Goetschel and Donoia Mili Tuesday, November 14 at 7pm at the Starz FilmCenter as they explore complex political, social, and cultural issues in the quest for peace in the Middle East.

Lilly Rivlin’s 2006 documentary CAN YOU HEAR ME? ISRAELI AND PALESTINIAN WOMEN FIGHT FOR PEACE focuses on Israeli and Palestinian women who insist on dialogue inspiring hope that woman may lead the way to peaceful coexistence in the Middle East.

Samira Goetschel’s award-winning OUR OWN PRIVATE BIN LADEN examines the complicity between economic structures of “terror” and “the war on terror,” their interdependencies and the creation of Bin Laden industry as consequence.

UPROOTED, a documentary by Donia Mili, takes her camera to the Occupied Territories of Palestine to “explore questions and forms of resistance witnessed and experienced in the permanent war zone of the West Bank and East Jerusalem.”

Screen Actors Guild
Join distinguished actor and Screen Actors Guild national president Alan Rosenberg, producer Corey Marr (WHO LOVES THE SUN), director Jane Ainbinder (NAIL POLISH), and a SDFF guest actor (to be announced) as they discuss the age-old question: Why use professional SAG performers? Does it really make a difference in the movies we make and see? The panel will share their personal experiences as well as entertain questions from the audience. David Hartley-Margolin, SAG national board member and past president of the local Screen Actors Guild will moderate.


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