On March 31, tragedy struck the Denver Film family with the untimely death of our beloved friend, colleague, and Artistic Director Brit Withey. Brit’s vision, passion, and influence over his 20-plus years with the festival will never be forgotten. The 2019 Denver Film Festival is dedicated to Brit, and we will kick it off on Wednesday, October 30, with a special salute to him at the Sie FilmCenter, where we’ll screen three of his favorite films. In addition, the regular festival program will include films that Brit had already planned to invite for participation in DFF42.
Through the generosity of friends, members, and patrons, we have established the Brit Withey Artistic Director Fund. Each year, the fund will be used to bring films and filmmakers that reflect Brit’s artistic sensibilities to the festival. This year, the Fund will support a three- lm tribute to the acclaimed Hungarian director Gyo¨rgy Pa´lfi, one of Brit’s favorite auteurs. Brit’s legacy also will be celebrated with the publication of a book, Remembering Michael Brittin Withey. Edited by Denver Film co-founder Ron Henderson and designed by his wife Judy Anderson, the 138-page book will be available for purchase during the festival.
And finally, we will close the festival on Sunday, November 10, as we began it: with a special screening of another of Brit’s personal favorites as well as a guiding light for the festival itself, the John Cassavetes masterpiece A Woman Under the Influence.
It takes a village to make a movie—but when that village is Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, rather than Hollywood, the creative process can go painfully, hilariously, unforgettably awry. A heartfelt tribute to underdogs everywhere, this acclaimed 1999 documentary remains a cult favorite today.
As rollicking, wisecracking outlaws who can’t ride far or fast enough to escape their own infamy, Paul Newman and Robert Redford generate the chemistry that made them Hollywood legends in George Roy Hill’s semirevisionist, seriocomic Western.
Longtime fest guest Bob Byington is back with this hilariously cynical, occasionally hopeful comedy about a substitute high-school teacher who finds herself briefly incarcerated after a fling with a student. Turns out the worst thing that ever happens to you can also be the best thing.
A bitter woman steps off the roof of her bleak apartment house and remarkably survives the fall; she reenters the building to find the elevator inevitably broken. Ascending the stairs, she observes bizarre scenes unfolding within her neighbors’ apartments in a series of darkly comic vignettes.
In 2007, the New York Times praised this gut-punching portrait of an outcast as “personal cinema at its most uncompromising and fierce.” The filmmaker himself, Ronald Bronstein, called it “an overripe tomato lobbed with spazmo inaccuracy at…the silver screen.” They were both right.
Frequent fest guest Denis Côté returns to the DFF with this quietly haunting tale of a rural French-Canadian village in which the living and the dead face off, asking by their very presence the same profound question of one another: Why are you still here?
Hungarian original György Pálfi burst onto the international film scene with this 2002 debut that Roger Ebert called an “ominous pastoral”: Capturing a day in the life of a ruralvillage, it blurs the line between gorgeous and grotesque, comical and creepy as only Pálfi can blur it.
From a semi-improvised script by Israel’s Yaron Shani comes a forceful examination of toxic masculinity in the form of veteran cop Rashi, who sees himself as a force for good. But as he faces assault charges at work and fomenting rebellion at home, he’s bound to begin questioning his own authority.
In this searing documentary about rampant sexual abuse within a sect of ultra-Orthodox Jews, a man scarred by his childhood returns home to his old community on the outskirts of Tel Aviv in search of answers. Or apologies. Or reconciliation. Or vengeance. The truth is even he’s not sure.
What does it mean to die like a man? For that matter, what does it mean to live like one? This modern morality tale from Russia tackles such questions with affecting grace in the form of Egor, a Siberian forest guard who faces cancer—and ostracism from his community—in a red dress and heels.
In this heartbreaking landmark of American independent cinema, director John Cassavetes’ own wife—the incomparable Gena Rowlands—stars as a housewife waging a desperate uphill battle to be seen, heard, and understood for who she is, not least by her vexed husband Nick (Peter Falk).
A man goes to his grandparents’ cabin in an attempt to revisit his childhood. That’s the plot—but Spanish director Oskar Alegria’s subtle, impressionistic follow-up to The Search for Emak Bakia (DFF39) explores much more than the unnamed narrator’s desire to exist outside of his own time.