Denver’s home for independent film is officially open for business. The Sie FilmCenter, the permanent location for the nonprofit Denver Film Society, celebrated its grand opening on Wednesday as the finishing touches on its recent redesign were completed. Anna and John J. Sie, who made a donation to allow for the interior and exterior renovations, cut the yellow ribbon at the event. Actress Marisa Tomei attended the ceremony, and Lieutenant Governor Joe Garcia dedicated the FilmCenter on behalf of Gov. John Hickenlooper, calling it a “cultural anchor” for the Colfax corridor.
The 11,285-square-foot FilmCenter has been screening films and hosting events since 2010. The venue features three theaters boasting 266 seats, state-of-the-art projection, and concessions, including a restaurant and full bar. But the biggest and most recent addition is the signage outside, created by ArtHouse Design. Now, the building lights up East Colfax in yellow to claim its spot on the bustling avenue.
“It’s a beautiful gift to the community,” said Tomei, who spoke at a Q&A following the dedication. “The gift of a place like this is so deep because it’s really about gathering people and nurturing. And it’s beautiful. It’s a gem.”
Tomei, an Italian-American, highlighted the Anna and John J. Sie Foundation’s Maria & Tommaso Maglione Italian Filmmaker Award, a $10,000 prize that is presented annually at the Starz Denver Film Festival (now the Denver Film Festival), and named for Anna Sie’s parents. John J. Sie founded Starz Entertainment Group, LLC in 1991, and retired in 2005.
In 2000, the Sies set out to make Denver “the central location between the east and west coasts for film,” according to John J. Sie. The FilmCenter and the Denver Film Society supports this goal by providing a venue for regular independent screenings and series, specialty programs, film education courses, the Filmmaker Focus program, as well as the Denver Film Festival (which takes place November 4 to 15). The festival draws notable filmmakers, stars, and thousands of movie fans, and in the past has offered screenings of films that would go on to win major industry awards, such as The Artist, Black Swan, Brokeback Mountain, Nebraska, No Country for Old Men and Silver Linings Playbook. The Denver Film Society also organizes the popular Film on the Rocks at Red Rocks Amphitheatre and the Stanley Film Fest, a horror film festival in Estes Park, in cooperation with the Stanley Hotel.