Cinema without borders

International Film Series returns

A still from 'Shoplifters'

CU-Boulder’s International Film Series isn’t just Boulder’s first art-house series; it also features one of the best programs out there. From international sensations to genre appreciations, award-winners and retrospectives, IFS offers the Boulder moviegoing faithful an opportunity to see the best of cinema, past and present, in the best possible light.

Not an easy task in a market where streaming consumption is the name of the game. But while the streaming giants trumpet convenience as their greatest asset, IFS has another card up its sleeve: curation. Here are 50-plus features and shorts, handpicked from the annals of history alongside some of today’s best for your viewing pleasure.

Take Shoplifters (Jan. 15–17), the latest drama from Japan’s Hirokazu Kore-eda and the winner of Cannes’ top prize last summer. Or how about They Live (March 20), John Carpenter’s witty retort to Reaganomics and rampant consumerism? Separated by an ocean and three decades, those two movies might seem worlds apart, but funnily enough, they’re more alike than they’re different.

Even better, They Live is part of a six-film series focusing on Carpenter’s works. CU Cinema Studies professor Sabrina Negri will introduce each film — including The Fog (Feb. 6), The Thing (Feb. 20), Big Trouble in Little China (March 6), Prince of Darkness (March 13) and In the Mouth of Madness (April 3) — with background, historical context and attention to Carpenter’s cinematic style.

You’ve probably seen a few of these movies before, but not like this. Five of the Carpenter films will unspool on 35mm, as will seven other titles this semester. From Luchino Visconti’s 1971 elegiac Death in Venice (Jan. 23), based on Thomas Mann’s iconic novel, to Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of William Thackeray’s 19th century satire, Barry Lyndon (April 27). As a bonus, Lord Bullingdon himself, Leon Vitali, will introduce Lyndon

It’s unclear what kind of acting career awaited Vitali after Lyndon, but that isn’t his concern. Vitali was too enamored with Kubrick to do anything else and devoted himself to becoming Kubrick’s right-hand man. You’ll find that baffling and fascinating story in the documentary Filmworker (April 26) with Vitali in person.

In addition to Vitali, Mike Reiss, one of the original writers for The Simpsons, will also trek to Boulder to give a one-of-a-kind presentation, “Springfield Confidential,” on April 14.

Then there are the tributes to those we lost in 2018: A showing of The Conformist (March 16) pays homage to director Bernardo Bertolucci; The Man Who Fell to Earth (April 7) celebrates the life of director Nicolas Roeg; screenings of Misery and All the President’s Men (April 12–13) showcase the work of recently departed screenwriter William Goldman; and The Blues Brothers (April 20), features the queen herself, Aretha Franklin.

Peppered in between: films from Brazil, Tito and the Birds (March 17); Denmark, Word of God (April 9–10); Iceland, Woman at War (April 4–6); Norway, The Quake (Jan. 29); South Korea, Burning (Jan. 25–26) and more, too numerous to contain here. There will even be a special program of Orson Welles films (April 22–25), all presented on 35mm and introduced by me, Michael Casey. More on those later. For now, let’s just go to the movies. For titles, dates, times and more information, please visit 

On the Bill: International Film Series. Various dates and times, Muenzinger Auditorium, 1905 Colorado Ave., Boulder.

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