The crown jewel in Denver’s cinematic cap returns with the 38th installment of the Denver Film Festival. Screening roughly 250 features and shorts from November 4 to 15, DFF offers adventurous moviegoers a slew of narratives, documentaries, retrospectives, and shorts from around the globe. One of this year’s highlights is the compilation of 12 films that make up the festival’s sidebar, Focus on National Cinema: Poland.
The most intriguing of the bunch, the Polish Silent Film Program (Nov. 10, Sie FilmCenter) offers viewers the unique experience of watching 1920s silent cinema with a live musical accompanist. Composer and performer Marcin Pukaluk will accompany The Strong Man and The Polish Dancer, the latter starring Poland’s famous silver-screen starlet, the late Pola Negri.
Want something a little more contemporary? Don’t pass up Call Me Marianna (Nov. 10–12, UA Pavilions), a tender documentary following Marianna as she undergoes the surgery that officially transitions her from man to woman. In a similar vein, Nude Area (Nov. 13–15, UA Pavilions) pairs affection with seduction in a story of two teenage girls. Told without a single word of dialogue and using knowing glances, Nude Area captures the beauty of time-stopping desire.
A familiar subject from an unfamiliar point of view, Karbala (Nov. 12–13, UA Pavilions) takes place during Operation Iraqi Freedom and focuses on the Polish allies who fought an al-Qaeda insurgence in Karbala’s City Hall. The bio-pic Gods (Nov. 7–9, UA Pavilions) tells the story of hard-living Dr. Religa, the first surgeon to perform a heart transplant in Poland. For something a little more comedic, Warsaw By Night (Nov. 10–11, UA Pavilions) follows four women looking for love and finding misadventure in Poland’s capital, while Body (Nov. 6–7, Sie FilmCenter; Nov. 9, UA Pavilions) finds humor in odd places as a father and daughter rely on an eccentric therapist to reconnect them after the matriarch of the family dies.
That confrontation of death is compounded in the documentary The Touch of an Angel (Nov. 13–14, UA Pavilions). The shadow of the Holocaust looms large over Poland—prior to World War II, 3.5 million Polish Jews lived within the country’s borders; only 10 percent survived—and this film helps illuminate this painful, yet essential, topic of horror and survival.
Focus on National Cinema: Poland seven features, two docs, two silents, and one short to whet your Polish appetite. And speaking of appetite, what better way to conclude an evening of Polish cinema than with Polish food? Plan a trip to Kingas Lounge on Colfax (if you’re coming from the Sie) or the Polished Tavern on Lawrence (if you’re coming from the Pavilions). Kingas’ deep-fried pierogies are delicious, and the Kielbasa sandwich at the Polished Tavern is a must. Top it off with a high-octane Polish porter to complement a chilly November evening.