The 25th Starz Denver International Film Festival closed on Saturday evening, October 19th with the Denver premiere of Michael Moore’s controversial new documentary, Bowling for Columbine at a standing-room only screening at the 2,600+ seat Buell Theatre. After the screening, Moore was joined on stage by Columbine student victims, Richard Castaldo, Mark Taylor and Brooks Brown as a standing ovation from attendees showed their appreciation.
The annual Starz People’s Choice Awards were announced on Sunday, October 20th at the Starz FilmCenter. The Starz People’s Choice Awards are voted on by festival attendees and are handed out in two categories: best new feature-length documentary and best new feature-length fiction film.
Standing in the Shadows of Motown, Paul Justman’s exploration of the impact a superb group of unsung studio musicians, the Funk Brothers, had on creating Berry Gordy’s “Motown sound” was the winner in the documentary category. The documentary features archival footage of the band at work with, among others, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson and a very young “Little” Stevie Wonder, and contemporary interviews with its members.
In the feature-length fiction category, Phillip Noyce’s “Rabbit-Proof Fence” took the honor. After a period in Hollywood making blockbusters, Noyce returns to his native Australia to make a film with a visually stunning tour of the Australian landscape as well as a heart-wrenching drama and a fantastic adventure.
The festival’s only juried prize – the Krzysztof Kieslowski Award for Best European Film – went to “Sweet Sixteen.” In his fourth collaboration with screenwriter Paul Laverty and his ninth with director of photography, Barry Ackroyd, Loach shows a perfect eye and ear for dialect and for blue-collar, teenage humor and wit.
Nick Nolte received the John Cassavetes Award for his artistry in independent film. His award was accepted by Alan Rudolph, who directed Nolte’s latest film, “Investigating Sex,” which Nolte also produced. Nolte must’ve been busy…doing something else.
The 25th Starz Encore Denver International Film Festival showcased more than 200 programs over 10 days and attracted nearly 35,000 audience members. More than 120 filmmakers participated in question-and-answer sessions, panel discussions, and workshops. Overall receipts for the Festival are at an all-time high, with a 25 percent increase over last year.