The 39th Denver Film Festival — Day One

The 39th Denver Film Festival gets underway tonight with the opening night film La La Land, a modern-day musical set in the City of Angels where some dreams are realized while others are crushed underfoot. The movie stars Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, and Stone, along with writer/director Damien Chazelle, are set to attend the opening night festivities with a post-screening Q&A with Denver Post film critic emeritus, Lisa Kennedy. La La Land is currently under embargo, so I’ll leave it at this: La La Land is heart-wrenching, acidic, and poignant. Easily one of the best of the year, and co-lead Ryan Gosling is magnificent.

But La La Land isn’t even the best movie at DFF. Spanning 12 days and three venues, DFF features over 200 films and attracts over 55,000 moviegoers. Each year DFF continues to build its reputation as the crown jewel of the Front Range’s cinematic cap and with this year’s line-up and sidebars—Focus on National Cinema: Spain, CinemaQ, CineLatino, Late Night Showcase, Women+Film, Culinary Cinema, and the Colorado Spotlight—DFF39 continues a beloved tradition.

This year’s red carpet films—movies the will no doubt dominate end-of-year and award talk—are Lion (Nov. 4, 8:00 p.m.), The Edge of Seventeen (Nov. 12, 2:30 p.m.), and Jackie (Nov. 12, 8:00 p.m.). Lion is the story of an immigrant’s search for his family starring Dev Patel; Jackie stars Natalie Portman as Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis following the assassination of her husband and then-president; and The Edge of Seventeen stars Hailee Steinfeld in a teen rom-com in the vein of Juno. These and many more have been mined from a slew of international festivals, which gives the Centennial State moviegoer a chance to catch them in theaters before they move on to either a wide theatrical release or the ever-growing streaming option.

Though the Denver Film Society has some magnificent year-round programming, DFF is the only chance to see some of these cinematic works of art in a large theater full of adventurous watchers, and that in itself is the reason to go. Far too many movies are must-sees to be listed here, so keep an eye on this space for daily recommendations and updates all fest long.

Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling channel Rogers and Astaire in LA LA LAND. Courtesy of DFS
Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling channel Rogers and Astaire in LA LA LAND. Courtesy of DFS.