Updated 6:00 p.m.
The 42nd Denver Film Festival will open with "Knives Out" from filmmaker Rian Johnson, who spent part of his childhood in Denver, and close with "Marriage Story," starring Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson.
Denver Film, the nonprofit that runs the event, made the announcement Thursday morning.
"Knives Out" kicks off the 12-day festival with a screening at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House in downtown Denver on Oct. 31 at 8 p.m. The film's cast features Daniel Craig, Jamie Lee Curtis and Toni Collette.
Festival director Britta Erickson thinks the whodunit story of “Knives Out” sets “the right tone” for opening night since it falls on Halloween.
The festival's red carpet screenings continue on Nov. 7 with director Trey Edward Shults' "Waves" at 8 p.m. The film stars Kelvin Harrison Jr., Taylor Russell and Lucas Hedges. It was considered a "breakout title" at the 2019 Telluride Film Festival, receiving high acclaim from critics.
Other red carpet highlights include a matinee screening of Fernando Meirelles' "The Two Popes, starring Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce, and closing out the festival with Noah Baumbach's much anticipated "Marriage Story," about a couple navigating a divorce.
Special presentation titles include crime drama "Motherless Brooklyn," Céline Sciamma's French historical drama "Portrait of a Lady on Fire," "Clemency," about a prison warden grappling with the psychological toll of carrying out executions, and Terrence Malick's "A Hidden Life."
Erickson thinks some of the films will challenge audiences, while others are simply a good time.
“When I think about how to program the red carpets and the special presentations, I think about tonality and having something for everyone,” Erickson said.
This year's festival pays tribute to former artistic director, Brit Withey, who died last spring in a car crash at age 50.
He was a film industry leader and worked for Denver Film for more than 20 years. He'll be honored on Oct. 30 at the Sie FilmCenter. Erickson said they'll show three of his favorite films that night: “American Movie,” “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” and “Frownland.”
“What I think he loved the most was mentoring other upcoming programmers and engaging with audiences," Erickson said.
Talking about honoring Withey, Erickson paused and noted, "I wish he was standing here next to me.”
She thinks they’ve pulled together a program that Withey “would be really proud of.”
Here's the full lineup (with a few notes on Colorado connections)
As usual, the festival’s full lineup includes some titles with ties to the Centennial State.
One is “3 Days 2 Nights,” a documentary that follows brothers who survive a plane crash near Aspen in 1974. The crash claimed the lives of their family, and the two of them, ages 11 and 8, survived for three days and two nights in the mountains. They don’t speak about it for decades.
In “The Right to Rest,” directors Sarah Megyesy and Guillermo Roqués examine homelessness and the housing crisis in Denver.
And Colorado band DeVotchKa will compose and perform a live score for a screening of the 1929 Soviet silent documentary film “Man with a Movie Camera” at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science.
The festival also spotlights virtual reality and immersive experiences throughout the entire event, including “Escape From Godot,” a live theatrical experience weaving in escape room components.
Find the full lineup here.
Tickets go on sale to the public on Monday, Oct. 14.
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