Film Programs

Documentary

Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. Both entertaining and enlightening, these documentaries investigate powerful tales that make up our collective zeitgeist.

32 Pills: My Sister's Suicide
USA 2017 89 min.

She's beautiful, artistic, beloved—and she can't stand to be alive. Documentary filmmaker Hope Litoff seeks to piece together the life and death of her sister Ruth; in the process, she gives a devastating account of the toll her investigation takes on her own mental health.

ACORN and the Firestorm
USA 2017 84 min.

Once America's largest grassroots community-organizing group, ACORN became a major player in the 2008 presidential election that resulted in Obama's victory. It also became a lightning rod for controversies that reverberate throughout today's toxic political atmosphere, as this documentary shows.

Acts & Intermissions
USA 2017 58 min.

This experimental documentary uses the life of radical activist Emma Goldman to explore the resurgence of protest in the 21st century. Weaving archive and contemporary footage with reenactments, it exposes the continual conflicts between labor and property, revolutionary purity and personal freedom.

AlphaGo
USA 2017 90 min.

The ancient Chinese game called Go is said to have more board configurations than there are atoms in the universe—making it an epic battleground for human versus artificial intelligence. This fascinating documentary invites you to a challenge match between a famed Go master and a computer program.

Bill Nye: Science Guy
USA 2017 101 min.

Get to know the man behind the myth (and the bowtie): Bill Nye's journey from beloved kids' show host to elder statesman of and spokesman for the scientific community is chronicled in this thoughtful documentary.

California Dreams
USA 2017 83 min.

DFF regular Mike Ott's latest genre-bender follows five real people in rural California striving—more or less—to realize their dreams of Hollywood stardom. As with many of his films (e.g. DFF39's co-directed Actor Martinez), the vérité result is hypnotic, funny and agonizing by turns.

Did You Wonder Who Fired the Gun?
USA 2017 90 min.

In this brave documentary, filmmaker Travis Wilkerson returns to his Alabama home to turn the camera on his own family's darkest secrets. Decades ago, his great-grandfather killed an African-American man but was never charged, due not least to a culture of racism that persists today.

Dirtbag: The Legend of Fred Beckey
USA 2017 96 min.

At 94 years old, Fred Beckey is the original “Dirtbag"—a mountaineer who abandons societal norms and material comforts in pursuit of a nomadic lifestyle. Here's the heretofore untold story of an American icon whose name evokes mystery, adulation and vitriol in climbing circles to this day.

The Experimental City
USA 2017 95 min.

A visionary who predicted climate change, Dr. Athelston Spilhaus dreamed of building a domed metropolis free of waste and pollution in the 1970s. What happened to his revolutionary plan? With a wealth of archival materials, Chad Freidrichs documents one man’s extraordinary quest to save the planet.

Futures Past
USA 2016 89 min.

Jordan Melamed set out to chronicle the demise of open outcry—the tradition among commodity traders of verbal orders—in the digital age. But strained relations with his father Leo, a finance-industry legend, led to a fascinating parallel documentary about reconciliation, in business and in life.

Home Truth
USA 2017 72 min.

In 1999, Jessica Gonzales's three young daughters were killed after being abducted by their father. Determined to make sure their deaths were not in vain, the Colorado mother sought justice and became an advocate for domestic-violence victims in the process. This is her story.

Hondros
USA 2017 93 min.

War photographer Chris Hondros spent a decade documenting conflict around the globe—until he was killed while on assignment in 2011. Directed by his friend and colleague Greg Campbell, this eloquent documentary pays tribute to the late photojournalist's courage and compassion.

Human Flow
Germany 2017 140 min.

In recent years, over 65 million people around the globe have fled their homes to escape famine, drought and war. This documentary epic by world-renowned Chinese artist Ai Weiwei gives powerful visual expression to both the staggering scale and the profoundly personal impact of the refugee crisis.

Intent to Destroy
USA 2017 117 min.

The Armenian genocide took place more than a century ago, but the Turkish government still denies it. Oscar-nominated documentarian Joe Berlinger movingly sheds light on the atrocity, interviewing historians and filmmakers who have been censored for examining this tragic chapter of history.

JonBenet's Tricycle
USA 2017 88 min.

Denverite Andrew Novick, an obsessive collector, reveals some of his strangest acquisitions—including JonBenet Ramsey's tricycle—in this quirky documentary, which investigates the human urge to possess what we value and the impact that pop culture and the media have on our experience of tragedy.

Keepers of the Magic
Canada 2016 86 min.

This delightful documentary celebrates the art of cinematography. Exploring our fascination with moving images and providing insight into the making of some of film's most iconic moments, it honors the great masters of the craft as unsung heroes whose vision and talent appear right before our eyes.

The Last Animals
USA 2017 92 min.

This haunting documentary from war photographer–turned–director Kate Brooks follows the conservationists, scientists and activists on the front lines of the battle against poachers and traffickers to save elephants and rhinos from the edge of extinction.

Leaning Into the Wind: Andy Goldsworthy
United Kingdom 2017 93 min.

Following up on the groundbreaking 2001 documentary Rivers and Tides, famed artist Andy Goldsworthy reunites with director Thomas Riedelsheimer for this visually sensational yet deeply personal exploration of his world, his mind and his work as it has evolved with his relationship to nature.

Liyana
Swaziland 2017 77 min.

The lives and extraordinary imaginations of five orphans at a storytelling workshop in Swaziland are captured in this enchanting, moving and highly acclaimed documentary from Colorado filmmakers Aaron and Amanda Kopp.

A Memory in Khaki
Qatar 2016 104 min.

Syrian filmmaker Alfoz Tanjour weaves his personal narrative together with those of other Syrians to create this emotional documentary about the years of silence and terror under an oppressive state that led to the implosion of their homeland—and the start of their revolution.

Never Steady, Never Still
Canada 2017 111 min.

A mother with advanced Parkinson's disease fights for control of her life, while her son struggles with his sexual identity amid the violence of Alberta's oil-field work camps. This tender yet heartbreaking drama follows a family's fight for survival in the face of illness, guilt and grief.

The New Fire
USA 2017 84 min.

The good news: there's a new solution to global warming. The bad news: it's equally catastrophic. Or is it? In this provocative documentary, David Schumacher shows how young engineers are fighting climate change with the weapon of nuclear power—while fighting fears of the weapon itself.

No Man's Land
USA 2017 81 min.

Filmmaker David Byars had remarkable access to the protesters occupying Oregon's Malheur National Wildlife Refuge during their 2016 armed standoff with the feds in 2016. This gripping documentary views the insurrection from the inside as it examines what draws Americans to the edge of revolution.

Quest
USA 2017 104 min.

This quiet yet hard-hitting documentary captures 10 years in the life of a working-class African-American family in North Philadelphia as they struggle, suffer, survive and, above all, support one another.

Ramen Heads
Japan 2017 93 min.

This juicy chronicle of Japan's top ramen chefs walks you through the daily lives of world-renowned masters like Osamu Tomita, who reveals every step of his obsessive journey to create the perfect noodle soup, from his relentless search for ingredients to his research on the competition.

Revolution of Sound: Tangerine Dream
Germany 2017 90 min.

For decades, electronic-music pioneer Edgar Froese pushed the boundaries of sound with his band Tangerine Dream, experimenting with recordings of everything from heartbeats to deep space. This behind-the-scenes documentary includes found footage shot by Froese, who died in 2015.

The Road Movie
Belarus 2017 67 min.

Uncategorizable, unbelievable and unforgettable, this documentary compilation of dash-cam video footage captures a rainbow of spectacles just beyond the windshields of Russian motorists—including a comet crashing down to earth, an epic forest fire and no shortage of road-rage incidents.

Serenade for Haiti
USA 2016 71 min.

A classical-music school in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, thrived despite decades of entrenched poverty and political strife—until the catastrophic earthquake of 2010 destroyed it. Filmed over seven years, this inspiring documentary shows how a stunned and devastated community worked to pick up the pieces.

A Skin So Soft
Canada 2017 93 min.

Exploring the tensions between strength and vulnerability, Canadian director Denis Côté (Bestiaire, DFF35; Vic + Flo Saw a Bear, DFF36) returns to Denver with this day-in-the-life portrait of six male bodybuilders consumed by their passion: overcoming the limits of the human body.

Strad Style
USA 2016 104 min.

Meet Danny Houck—a down-on-his-luck, Stradivarius-obsessed recluse in rural Ohio who has somehow convinced a famous concert violinist that he can make a copy of one of the world's rarest, most valuable violins. A hilariously poignant and suspenseful documentary about the true meaning of chutzpah.

True Conviction
USA 2017 84 min.

Jamie Meltzer's now-inspiring, now-devastating documentary follows three wrongfully convicted exonerees as they form a detective agency that investigates the cases of fellow prisoners—all while grappling with their own experiences of injustice and trying to rebuild their personal lives.

Venus
Denmark 2016 80 min.

An open casting call for an erotic film based on real-life sexual experiences takes a curious turn when 100 women show up and begin to take command of the auditioning process in this Danish documentary, by turns amusing, frank and contemplative.

Vigilante: The Incredible True Story of Curtis Sliwa and The Guardian Angels
USA 2016 88 min.

In this forceful tribute to community self-defense, Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa vividly narrates his remarkable escapades as a vigilante in the crime-ridden New York City of the '70s and '80s, touching on everything from the crack epidemic to his own attempted assassination.

We are Jews from Breslau
Germany 2016 113 min.

This documentary introduces viewers to a group of Jewish Holocaust survivors who are bridging past and present by connecting with a group of youth against the backdrop of rising anti-Semitism and nationalism in Europe.

What Lies Upstream
USA 2017 89 min.

Unfolding like a political thriller, this investigative documentary starts with a water-contamination crisis in West Virginia. Where it ends is anyone's guess, as it turns out that the shocking truth about our regulatory agencies' failure to protect our health goes far beyond Flint, Michigan.

When God Sleeps
USA 2016 88 min.

Iranian rapper Shahin Najafi was forced to flee his home after hardline clerics issued a fatwa against him for his provocative music. This gripping documentary follows him as he risks everything to return to the stage—while falling for a woman whose family is part of the regime that wants him dead.

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