Under the radar

Non-marquee movies to see at the Denver Film Festival

Courtesy: Cercamon

Fire up the projector and dim the lights — the 46th Denver Film Festival kicks off this weekend. This year’s slate opens with a screening of American Fiction, the story of a serious Black novelist (Jeffrey Wright) who becomes unwittingly acclaimed for the very tropes he mocks. And while the film by first-time director Cord Jefferson will no doubt garner a good deal of attention when it enjoys a theatrical run this Christmas, many of the 160-plus movies playing DFF Nov. 3-12 may not. Here, then, is a roundup of films at Denver Film Festival that might not be on your radar but certainly should be.

The Crime is Mine
1:15 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 5, and 4:15 p.m. Monday, Nov. 6, AMC 9 + CO 10, 826 Albion St., Denver.

A fun and funny farce set in 1930s Paris revolving around Madeleine (Nadia Tereszkiewicz), accused of murdering her theater producer, and Pauline (Rebecca Marder), Madeleine’s friend and lawyer. Directed by François Ozon, The Crime is Mine moves at a breakneck pace, never stopping to take itself seriously, even though what it says about male and female roles, fame and wealth is pretty spot on.

Fancy Dance
4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 7, and 6:45 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 8, Sie FilmCenter, 2510 E. Colfax Ave., Denver.

Filmed on the lands of the Cherokee Nation, Lily Gladstone stars as Jax, the aunt of teenage Roki (Isabel Deroy-Olson), whose mother has gone missing. Child protective services have come to relocate Roki off the reservation to the home of her white grandfather (Shea Whigham). Part familial drama, part murder mystery, part road movie, Fancy Dance is a quiet narrative that feels at once personal and political. If Killers of the Flower Moon has piqued your interest in either Native narratives or the acting prowess of Gladstone, then Fancy Dance is for you. 

The Feeling That the Time for Doing Something Has Passed
6:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 3, and 4:40 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 4, AMC 9 + CO 10, 826 Albion St., Denver.

Ann (Joanna Arnow, who also writes and directs) is a 30-something drifting through New York City and a handful of sexual relationships as a submissive. The movie is equally passive and droll, depicting a world where no one can be bothered to get excited about anything. Even the sexual encounters are stripped of enthusiasm, which only builds in humor, as does Arnow’s stark naked performance. It’s an odd duck, sure, but it earns its laughs.

The Great Divide
7:15 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 7, and 4:30 p.m. Nov. 8, Sie FilmCenter, 2510 E. Colfax Ave., Denver.

Documentarian Tom Donahue looks at the historical significance of gun violence in the context of the mass shootings that have come to define the American experience. It’s a familiar argument — especially in Colorado — but Donahue finds enough to keep the conversation from feeling rote thanks to the rapport he exhibits in the interviews. Filmmakers in person.

Ileana’s Smile
4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 4, Holiday Theater, 2644 W. 32nd Ave., Denver.

When Denver-based musician Brad Corrigan of Dispatch fame visited Nicaragua in the 2000s, a trip to La Chureca — a massive open-air landfill — introduced him to Ileana, a 14-year-old girl with a million-watt smile living with her sisters and mother in the dump. She left a mark on Corrigan, who returned year after year to understand how and why Ileana, among others, could survive in such a hostile environment. Running a lean 60 minutes, Ileana’s Smile smartly tries not to tackle more problems than the frame can contain. Filmmaker in person.


7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 6, and 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 7, AMC 9 + CO 10, 826 Albion St., Denver.

Located in southern central Washington, the city of Richland was erected during World War II with the explicit purpose of working on the Manhattan Project. Richland contributed to the war effort, but the effects are still lingering, and documentarian Irene Lusztig embeds herself in a town grappling with the long shadow of the 20th century. Filmmaker in person.

Story and Pictures By

1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 4, Sie FilmCenter, 2510 E. Colfax Ave., Denver, and 1:45 p.m. Sunday,
Nov. 5, AMC 9 + CO 10, 826 Albion St., Denver.

Easily the most heartwarming pick on this list, Joanna Rudnick’s documentary follows three children’s picture book authors as they practice their craft. Rudnick provides a solid history of the artform, including the challenges and outright banning of these books — many of which are considered classics today. Filmmaker in person. 

ON SCREEN: Denver Film Festival. Nov. 3-12, multiple venues. Full schedule and pricing here