One of our favorite times of year is upon us: the annual Denver Film Festival. The 38th iteration takes place November 4 to 15 and has one of the most exciting lineups we’ve seen in recent years. Besides the dozens of feature films—including flicks you’ve likely been seeing previews for, including Brooklyn and Suffragette—there are plenty of parties and panels to attend, and music videos and shorts to watch. (Don’t miss the conversation with stunt woman-turned-leading-lady Zoe Bëll on November 14.) Every year, we comb through the festival program to help you narrow down your list of can’t-miss movies. Here, the nine you should definitely make time for.
Once Upon a Crime: The Borrelli-Davis Conspiracy. A true-crime story from Colorado, this documentary explores the murder accusations levied against two police detectives—and what really happened. Friday, November 6, 2 p.m.; Saturday, November 7, 4 p.m.; and Sunday, November 8, 4:30 p.m.; Sie FilmCenter
Flocking. Based on a true story, this heartbreaking Swedish film explores the aftermath of a rape accusation by a 14-year-old girl against her classmate as director Beata Gårdeler’s explores society’s often poor treatment of rape victims. Saturday, November 7, 3:45 p.m.; Wednesday, November 11, 6:15 p.m.; and Thursday, November 12, 9:15 p.m.; UA Pavilions
600 Miles. The best first feature winner at this year’s Berlin International Film Festival, 600 Miles is all about action as an arms trafficker for a drug cartel befriends the ATF agent he kidnapped as they travel from Arizona to Mexico. Saturday, November 7, 7 p.m.; Monday, November 9, 3:45 p.m.; Tuesday, November 10, 9:30 p.m.; Sie FilmCenter
Decay. Local filmmaker Joseph Wartnerchaney’s horror film is part of the Spotlight on Colorado program. In Decay, Jonathan, who lives with crippling OCD as a result of an abusive childhood, finds a young woman dead in his basement. Pleased to have a companion, he begins a relationship with her. Then she starts to decay. Saturday, November 7, 9:15 p.m.; and Monday, November 9, 9 p.m.; Sie FilmCenter
Son of Saul. This moving Hungarian Holocaust drama won the Grand Prix at Cannes and is expected to be a shoo-in for the Academy Awards’ foreign language category. Prisoner Saul Auslander is forced to help with post-extermination cleanup rituals in Auschwitz. When he comes across a body of a young boy that survived the gas chambers (but later died), he resolves to give him a proper Jewish burial—and risks everything to do so. Monday, November 9, 6:30 p.m.; Sie FilmCenter
Mia Madre. The terrific John Turturro does it again in Italian director Nanni Moretti’s semiautobiographical dramatic comedy (pictured, below). A female director is pushed to the edge of a breakdown as she deals with a failing relationship, a mother on the brink of death, and the irritations of her film’s star (Turturro). Thursday, November 12, 7 p.m.; and Friday, November 13, 4:15 p.m.; Sie FilmCenter
Camino. Zoe Bëll stars in this thriller as a photojournalist desperately trying to escape the Colombian jungle after seeing something she shouldn’t have. Thursday, November 12, 9 p.m.; and Friday, November 13, 6:30 p.m.; UA Pavilions
Lamb. Ethiopian director Yared Zeleke’s first feature film focuses on Ephraim, a young boy whose father leaves him with extended family after his mother’s death. When he learns that his beloved lamb is to be slaughtered for a religious feast, Ephraim works on a plan to save his friend and himself. Stunning scenery provides a visually enticing backdrop to the story. Friday, November 13, 4:15 p.m.; Saturday, November 14, 7 p.m.; and Sunday, November 15, 2:15 p.m.; UA Pavilions
Carol. This year’s red carpet matinee, Carol follows a department store clerk (Rooney Mara) and wealthy suburbanite (Cate Blanchett) who fall in love in 1950s New York. Directed by Todd Haynes, this book adaptation (from Patricia Highsmith’s The Price of Salt) is already generating Oscar buzz. It opens wide later this year. Saturday, November 14, 2:30 p.m.; Ellie Caulkins Opera House
General Festival Info: Screening tickets are generally $15 for nonmembers; weekday matinees and panels are $11, while special presentations are $17. Red carpet screening prices and festival package costs vary. Films show at the Sie FilmCenter, UA Denver Pavilions Multiplex, and Ellie Caulkins Opera House.
Stay tuned to 5280.com throughout the festival for reviews and more.