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2008 Starz Denver Film Festival
by: Elizabeth Alley
Gift to support annual Italian Filmmaker Award - Expands Film Society's International Scope

DENVER - Oct. 24, 2008 - The Denver Film Society announced the establishment of the Maria and Tommaso Maglione Italian Filmmaker Award, funded through a $250,000 endowment provided by the Anna and John J. Sie Foundation. The award, named after Anna Sie's parents, recognizes emerging Italian filmmakers and reflects her deep commitment to her Italian heritage and her love of film.

"Cinema and its ability to educate and raise awareness of our diversity as people has played such a significant role in my life," said Anna Sie, who immigrated to the United States from Italy in the 1950s and who was the caregiver to her father and two brothers when she was only eleven years old. "I am very excited to be able to support Italian cinema by celebrating emerging filmmakers as exemplified by our first recipient, the very talented Federico Bondi."

Bondi will be in Denver for the Starz Denver Film Festival in November showcasing his film Mar Nero.

Over the years, the Sie family has provided substantial support to the Denver Film Society through individual gifts, the Anna and John J. Sie Foundation and through Starz Entertainment, a company co-founded by John Sie and a key sponsor of the Starz Denver Film Festival. 

"Our hope is that others will follow suit and provide endowment funds to the Denver Film Society so that they can grow their wonderful programs in a sustainable and incremental way," said Michelle Sie Whitten, executive director of the Anna and John J. Sie Foundation.

Bondi, the director of Mar Nero, will receive the first annual Maria and Tommaso Maglione Italian Filmmaker Award, which includes a $10,000 cash prize, following a screening of the film during the 31st Starz Denver Film Festival (SDFF) at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 20 at the Starz FilmCenter.

"We are so pleased to launch this major new annual award during the 2008 festival and to honor Federico Bondi as the first recipient," said Britta Erickson, director for the SDFF. "The Sie's very generous gift will allow the Starz Denver Film Festival to annually recognize emerging Italian filmmakers and will help us add to our strong international reputation for supporting diversity in cinema."

Mar Nero is the story of Angela, a young Romanian who leaves her husband and her country to go to Italy to earn some money by looking after Gemma, a recently widowed, elderly invalid. Irritable and quick-tempered, Gemma finds Angela's presence difficult to deal with but, incapable of managing alone, she is forced to accept assistance. Eventually, the women learn how to live together and bear with one another, even discovering their similarities. 

Bondi was recommended for the award by a blue ribbon committee consisting of Alberto Barbera, the director of the Museo Nazionale del Cinema in Turin, Italy and the chairman of the Turin Film Festival; Teresa Cavina, the artistic director of the Rome Film Festival; and Lorenzo Codelli, an award-winning journalist based in Gemona, Italy, who writes on film for Postif and writes the annual survey of new Italian film for International Film Guide.

All regular screenings will take place at the Starz FilmCenter at the Tivoli on the Auraria Campus, the home for the Denver Film Society. Opening Night (Nov. 13), Big Night (Nov. 15), Saturday-at-the-Movies (Nov. 22) and Closing Night (Nov. 22) will take place at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House, located in the Denver Performing Arts Complex. Special screenings will be shown in the King Academic and Performing Arts Center on the Auraria Campus.

For more information about the 31st SDFF, visit


About the Anna and John J. Sie Foundation
The Anna and John J. Sie Foundation supports the sharing of knowledge amongst peoples and cultures throughout the global community, with emphasis on down syndrome, education, media, business, and technology.  The foundation is a supporter of The Children's Hospital, the University of Colorado's "The Sie Family Down Syndrome Break-Through Research Initiative", the University of Denver's Institute for Sino-American International Dialogue; the School of Science and Technology, the Denver Art Museum, the Starz Film Center, and numerous other civic, social and educational institutions.

About the Denver Film Society
The Denver Film Society (DFS) is a membership-based, non-profit cultural institution dedicated to cultivating community and transforming lives through film. Founded in 1978, DFS produces film events throughout the year, including the award-winning Starz Denver Film Festival. The DFS home theatre and cinematic education center, the Starz FilmCenter, presents film programs daily and is Denver's first and only year-round cinemateque, operated in partnership with the University of Colorado-Denver's College of Arts & Media, and with support from Starz Entertainment and the Scientific & Cultural Facilities District. Members of DFS support one-of-a-kind programs reaching more than 200,000 film lovers and film lovers-in-training each year.

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