Films / Programs

Contemporary World Cinema

Take a whirlwind world tour in just eleven days – without getting out of your seat. Representing nearly thirty countries, this year’s selection of Contemporary World Cinema whisks you from India to Norway, Cananda to Croatia, Japan to Mexico and beyond. As you explore new terrain and get to know the locals, broaden your horizons and adopt other perspectives, you’re bound to rediscover yourself – right here at SDFF 31.

  • All Will Be Well

    All Will Be Well

    Poland , 2007 , 96 min. When a fatherless boy with a dying mother sets off on a journey to a distant holy shrine in hopes of a miracle, his companion is an alcoholic track coach in need of some faith himself. Polish helmer Tomasz Wiszniewski puts a tender but tough-minded spin on the road movie.... more
  • Amal

    Amal

    India , 2008 , 101 min. In this gently absorbing fable, the titular character, a Delhi auto-rickshaw driver, lets himself be cheated by an apparent vagrant—who is so moved by this act of compassion that he bequeaths his actually vast fortune to Amal, sparking a battle with his scheming children.... more
  • Behind the Glass

    Behind the Glass

    Croatia , 2008 , 80 min. Croatian director Zrinko Ogresta, who won the Krzysztof Kieslowski Award for his 2003 drama Here at SDFF 27, returns with a postmodern parable about an architect who tempts fate through his own inaction when his life begins spinning out of control.... more
  • Black Sea

    Black Sea

    Italy , 2008 , 95 min. In a warmhearted drama, Federico Bondi examines the complex relationship between a lonely old Florentine widow and the Romanian girl who serves as her caregiver—as well as her companion on an unexpected, arduous journey abroad.... more
  • Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

    Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

    USA , 1969 , 110 min. As rollicking, wisecracking outlaws who can’t ride far or fast enough to escape their own infamy, Paul Newman and Robert Redford generate chemistry galore in George Roy Hill’s semirevisionist, seriocomic Western (which SDFF 31 is presenting in a brand-new 35mm print).... more
  • Cherry Blossoms

    Cherry Blossoms

    Germany , 2008 , 127 min. MUST END Thursday, February 19 35mm presentation - In this homage to Yasujiro Ozu’s classic Tokyo Story, German director Doris Dörrie (How to Cook Your Life, SDFF 30) dares tell a love story that rarely unfolds at the multiplex. The unofficial subtitle, Hanami—whi... more
  • Children of Heaven

    Children of Heaven

    Iran , 1997 , 89 min. Nine-year-old Ali, his little sister Zahra, and his parents make the best of life in their poor urban neighborhood in Majid Majidi’s acclaimed drama—the only Iranian film ever to receive an Oscar nomination.... more
  • Chocolate

    Chocolate

    Thailand , 2008 , 90 min. Actress Jija Yanin Vismitananda trained for five years to play an autistic girl who learns martial arts by watching a kung fu movie marathon—then sets out to exact revenge upon the criminals who’ve cheated her mother. No stunt double. No wires. All action!... more
  • A Christmas Tale

    A Christmas Tale

    France , 2008 , 150 min. In Arnaud Desplechin’s knowingly wild tragicomedy, three generations of a troubled French family gather at Christmas only to renew old feuds. Catherine Deneuve is the matriarch-in-crisis, Mathieu Amalric the hard-drinking prodigal son.... more
  • Cinema Q: The Lost Coast

    Cinema Q: The Lost Coast

    USA , 2008 , 74 min. The Lost Coast examines the remnants of a love triangle among three old high-school friends who reunite one Halloween night in San Francisco. On a quest to score Ecstasy, they instead confront increasing sexual confusion, guilt, and longing.... more
  • The Class

    The Class

    France , 2008 , 128 min. Winner of the Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, Laurent Cantet’s docudrama examines an extraordinary teacher’s attempt to quell the culture clashes erupting in a tough French high school—arguably a microcosm of postmillennial France.... more
  • Cook County

    Cook County

    USA , 2008 , 93 min. A visceral study of the methamphetamine plague in rural America, Cook County tells the story of drug manufacturer-slash-addict Bump, whose downward spiral threatens to destroy his family. Can teenaged Abe prevent the seemingly inevitable?... more
  • The Desert Within

    The Desert Within

    Mexico , 2008 , 110 min. After bringing destruction upon his Mexican village for having his newborn son baptized during a period of religious persecution, Elías drives his family into the desert in search of atonement—with even more disastrous consequences.... more
  • Donkey Punch

    Donkey Punch

    Great Britain , 2008 , 99 min. 35mm presentation - Open water has served as the backdrop for many a taut thriller, from Polanski’s Knife in the Water to Phillip Noyce’s Dead Calm and even Spielberg’s Jaws. The more endless the expanse of blue, the more crowded the boat, the more the claustrophobic tens... more
  • Eden Log

    Eden Log

    France , 2007 , 98 min. A man awakens deep in the bottom of a cave with no idea of how he got there or what happened to the dead man next to him. His only means of escape is scrambling back up to the surface—and through a futuristic cemeterylike world called Eden Log.... more
  • The Eternal City

    The Eternal City

    Italy , 2008 , 93 min. Suffused with the gentle spirit of postwar Italian cinema, this romantic dramedy follows a twenty-something American through Rome as he searches for love—only to stumble into a love triangle. The Eternal City itself costars in vivid black and white.... more
  • Everything Is Fine

    Everything Is Fine

    Canada , 2008 , 115 min. Suicide rips apart a circle of five teenaged friends, leaving only one to cope with the pain of his abandonment. In this dark drama, first-time feature director Yves-Christian Fournier sheds light on the tragedy marking a bleak Québec neighborhood.... more
  • Finally, Lillian and Dan

    Finally, Lillian and Dan

    USA , 2007 , 97 min. In the engaging love story Finally, Lillian and Dan, director Mike Gibisser uses the closely observed minutiae of everyday existence to reveal the tantalizingly slow progress two isolated souls make toward connection.... more
  • Gomorrah

    Gomorrah

    Italy , 2008 , 137 min. The Camorra crime family is profiled in Matteo Garrone’s gritty fictionalized account of everyday corruption and violence in Naples—from money running to assassinations by the thousands; Gomorrah took the Grand Prix at Cannes this year.... more
  • The Great Buck Howard

    The Great Buck Howard

    USA , 2008 , 87 min. MUST END Thursday, April 9 35mm presentation - Once upon a time, Buck Howard (John Malkovich) spent his days in the limelight. His mind-boggling feats as a mentalist extraordinaire—not to be confused with those of a mere magician—earned him a marquee act in Vegas and 61 appearances on... more
  • The Guitar

    The Guitar

    USA , 2008 , 95 min. In The Guitar, Amy Redford’s first feature, a diagnosis of terminal throat cancer sends meek Melody Wilder (Saffron Burrows) into a frenzy of indulgence, during which she buys herself a classic red Fender guitar—and experiences life for the first time.... more
  • Happiness Is a Warm Gun

    Happiness Is a Warm Gun

    Switzerland , 2001 , 95 min. Mixing fact and fiction in an attempt to comprehend the killing of German Green Party activist Petra Kelly, Swiss filmmaker Thomas Imbach imagines a now humorous, now poetic passage from life to death for her and her much older lover.... more
  • The Hustler

    The Hustler

    USA , 1961 , 135 min. Paul Newman gives a bitterly passionate performance as “Fast Eddie” Felson—a cocksure poolroom ace who learns harsh life lessons while paying dearly for his hubris and cynicism. SDFF 31 will present The Hustler in a brand-new 35mm print.... more
  • I Was a Swiss Banker

    I Was a Swiss Banker

    Switzerland , 2007 , 75 min. In this lighthearted modern fairy tale, a Swiss banker who’s been sneaking money across the border gets caught—but saves himself by jumping into a nearby lake, where he meets a shy mermaid and embarks on a quest to reverse a witch’s curse.... more
  • Idiots and Angels

    Idiots and Angels

    USA , 2008 , 78 min. In Idiots and Angels, a masterpiece of cartoon noir, animator Bill Plympton sketches the gradations between allegorical good and evil as a set of angel’s wings sprouts from our misanthropic antihero’s shoulder blades overnight.... more
  • Insomnia

    Insomnia

    USA , 2002 , 118 min. From acclaimed director Christopher Nolan (Memento) comes the story of Will Dormer (Al Pacino), a weary LAPD detective who’s investigating a brutal murder in a small Alaskan town—even as he too is being scrutinized far too closely for comfort by an eager local rookie.... more
  • Katyn

    Katyn

    Poland , 2008 , 121 min. In the elegiac and sometimes horrifying Katyn, filmmaking icon Andrzej Wajda depicts the massacre of more than 20,000 Polish military officers and leaders by the Soviets in 1940—and the subsequent cover-up that lasted for more than fifty years.... more
  • Laurel Canyon

    Laurel Canyon

    USA , 2002 , 103 min. Academy Award winner Frances McDormand stars in this sexy, witty drama as a hard-living, free-thinking rock-and-roll record producer who suddenly finds herself sharing her home with her strait-laced grown son and his archconservative bride-to-be.... more
  • Lenz

    Lenz

    Germany , 2006 , 96 min. An emotionally erratic filmmaker makes a pilgrimage to Vosges to do research on his namesake—an eighteenth-century German Romantic poet who went insane. When he abandons his project to reunite with his young son and ex-wife instead, he tips toward madness himself.... more
  • Love and Other Crimes

    Love and Other Crimes

    Austria , 2008 , 106 min. In his first feature, thirty-one-year-old director Stefan Arsenijevic examines the transformation of postwar Serbia via the portrayal of a restless young woman (Anica Dobra) determined to leave her mob-boss lover and start a new life beyond Belgrade.... more
  • Mermaid

    Mermaid

    Russia , 2007 , 115 min. Mermaid has been compared to Amélie for its visual richness—not to mention its oodles of charm, romance, and whimsy. This modern-day Russian fairy tale centers on a young, silent girl who can control the weather and make wishes come true.... more
  • Mommy Is at the Hairdresser's

    Mommy Is at the Hairdresser's

    Canada , 2008 , 98 min. As funny as it is sad, as quirky as it is dark, Léa Pool’s latest drama unfolds over the course of one long summer. While harboring secrets that threaten to destroy her family, teenaged Élise begins to discover exactly who she is—and who she is becoming.... more
  • Moscow, Belgium

    Moscow, Belgium

    Belgium , 2008 , 102 min. MUST END Thursday, March 12 35mm presentation - Moscow, or 'Moscou' in Flemish, is a densely populated working class neighborhood on the outskirts of Ghent, Belgium. That's where Matty (Barbara Sarafian), an ordinary housewife with nothing but three kids to her name, works at the post... more
  • My Marlon and Brando

    My Marlon and Brando

    Turkey , 2008 , 93 min. In this docudrama, two actors fall in love on a Turkish movie set but are separated when they must return home—she to Istanbul, he to Kurdistan. Just as the United States prepares to invade Baghdad, she undertakes the harrowing journey to be with her man.... more
  • Natural Causes

    Natural Causes

    USA , 2008 , 91 min. After both a six-day fling and a year-long relationship, a twenty-something tries to make sense of the ephemeral nature of love. Three writer-directors drew from their own painful experiences to develop a nonlinear plot as compelling as their visual style.... more
  • The New Year Parade

    The New Year Parade

    USA , 2008 , 87 min. In this unsentimental kitchen-table drama set against the background of the annual Mummers Parade, the divorce of a Philadelphia couple leaves their teenaged daughter and twenty-something son grappling with painful doubts about love.... more
  • Night Owls

    Night Owls

    Czech Republic , 2008 , 88 min. Though she dabbles in art, lethargic Ofka chooses to work nights at a convenience store owned by her brother-in-law instead of studying for a career. But when the store is robbed during her shift, Ofka gets a jolt in the direction of adulthood.... more
  • Nobody's Fool

    Nobody's Fool

    USA , 1994 , 110 min. As Sully, a sixty-year-old handyman who’s finally ready to grow up, Paul Newman offers the finest performance of his autumnal years in this richly humorous, deeply humane dramedy (which is also Jessica Tandy’s swan song) about small-town life in upstate New York.... more
  • O'Horten

    O'Horten

    Norway , 2007 , 90 min. One dark Norwegian winter, a railroad engineer on the verge of retirement tries to reinvigorate a life deadened by routine. Using wit both dry and absurdist, director Bent Hamer (Factotum) shows just how far a little imagination can take an old man.... more
  • One Book, One Denver FREE Film Series: Wendy And Lucy

    One Book, One Denver FREE Film Series: Wendy And Lucy

    USA , 2008 , 80 min. Screens Monday, September 26th at 7pm - FREE Screening as part of One Book, One Denver's Community Events 35mm presentation - Michelle Williams (Brokeback Mountain) gives a powerful breakout performance in this feminine variation on Into the Wild. Wendy Carroll (Williams) is d... more
  • One Day You'll Understand

    One Day You'll Understand

    France , 2008 , 90 min. In the wake of the Klaus Barbie trial, a Russian Jew struggles to come to terms with her experiences in Nazi-occupied France—and with her grown son’s own increasingly urgent need to know the truth about her wartime past.... more
  • Prince of Broadway

    Prince of Broadway

    USA , 2008 , 100 min. The life of an illegal immigrant from Ghana who hustles knockoff duds in New York City’s wholesale district is turned upside down when a former girlfriend saddles him with a toddler she claims is his. Kinetic handheld camerawork captures the chaos.... more
  • Rumba

    Rumba

    Belgium , 2008 , 77 min. MUST END Thursday, May 28 35mm presentation - Starring Dominique Abel, Fiona Gordon, Philippe Martz, Bruno Romy Dom (Dominique Abel) and Fiona (Fiona Gordon) hold day jobs as schoolteachers—but their passion is for rumba and the dance contests they compete in by night. On the drive h... more
  • Sex Is No Laughing Matter

    Sex Is No Laughing Matter

    Japan , 2007 , 137 min. Yuri, an art school teacher, initiates an affair with Mirume, a student half her age, in this mischievous study of the affairs of love. When she disappears, Mirume’s friend En steps in to drive a narrative that blurs the line between farce and drama.... more
  • Shall We Kiss?

    Shall We Kiss?

    France , 2008 , 102 min. Not unlike the flap of butterfly’s wings that causes a hurricane, one kiss can lead to all kinds of trouble: Therein lies the premise for the very funny, oddly sexy, and quintessentially French romantic comedy Shall We Kiss?... more
  • Sita Sings the Blues

    Sita Sings the Blues

    USA , 2008 , 82 min. MUST END Thursday, July 16 35mm presentation - A feminist spoof of the ancient Hindu epic The Ramayana, Sita Sings the Blues uses a rich blend of visual styles to wed the story of a modern-day marital split to the saga of the goddess Sita, abandoned by her husband Rama. With f... more
  • The Song of Sparrows

    The Song of Sparrows

    Iran , 96 min. MUST END Thursday, May 14 35mm presentation - Karim works at an ostrich farm outside of Tehran, Iran. He leads a simple and contented life with his family in his small house, until one day when one of the ostriches runs away. Karim is blamed for the loss and is fired from the farm. So... more
  • The Stranger in Me

    The Stranger in Me

    Germany , 2008 , 99 min. Rebecca is not taking to motherhood as well as she expected. Able neither to bond with her baby nor share her secret, even with her boyfriend, she begins to sink into darkness—until finally realizing she has become a threat to her family.... more
  • Surveillance

    Surveillance

    USA , 2008 , 90 min. The daughter of auteur David Lynch (serving here as executive producer) spins a starkly sinister yarn about two FBI agents (Bill Pullman and Julia Ormond) interrogating three survivors of a brutal mass murder—all of whom harbor their own dark secrets.... more
  • The Talented Mr. Ripley

    The Talented Mr. Ripley

    USA , 1999 , 139 min. To commemorate the passing of Anthony Minghella and Sydney Pollack, SDFF 31 presents this dark tale of status-seeking, gold-digging, and, ultimately, murder, set in 1950s Italy. Minghella directed; Pollack executive produced.... more
  • Terribly Happy

    Terribly Happy

    Denmark , 2008 , 99 min. MUST END April 22 35mm Presentation - In this twisted, darkly comic thriller, Robert Hanson (Jakob Cedergren) is a Copenhagen police officer who, following a nervous breakdown, is transferred to a small provincial town to take on the mysteriously vacated Marshal position. He subsequen... more
  • Three Monkeys

    Three Monkeys

    Turkey , 2008 , 109 min. MUST END Thursday, June 4 35mm presentation - After his critically acclaimed mood pieces Distant and Climates, Turkey’s leading filmmaker moves in a more plot-driven direction while retaining his mastery of ambience, nuance and astonishing cinematography. Winner of the ... more
  • Time to Die

    Time to Die

    Poland , 2008 , 109 min. Elderly but feisty Aniela spends her days in a decaying country villa spying on her neighbors, recalling her past, and fending off schemers who want to seize her property in this luminous showcase for nonagenerian Polish actress Danuta Szaflarska.... more
  • The Toe Tactic

    The Toe Tactic

    USA , 2008 , 90 min. In her feature debut, Emily Hubley (daughter of pioneer animators Faith and John Hubley) weaves live action and animation into a free-form, cinepoetic narrative of loss and discovery involving a young woman in mourning—and some wisecracking cartoon dogs.... more
  • Tokyo!

    Tokyo!

    France , 2008 , 90 min. This offbeat cinematic triptych captures myriad surreal goings-on against the backdrop of Tokyo. A recluse falls in love during an earthquake; a woman with no sense of purpose turns into a chair; and a red-haired sewer dweller startles passersby with random zany pranks.... more
  • Tricks

    Tricks

    Poland , 2007 , 96 min. In the humdrum quiet of a working-class mining town, a summer of discovery awaits six-year-old Stefek and teenaged Elka in Tricks, Polish director Andrzej Jakimowski’s homage to his own older sister.... more
  • Two Lovers

    Two Lovers

    USA , 2008 , 100 min. MUST END Thursday, April 9 35mm presentation - Set in the insular world of Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, Two Lovers is a classic romantic drama, with Joaquin Phoenix giving a raw and vulnerable performance as Leonard, a charismatic but troubled young man who moves back into his childhood ... more
  • Wellness

    Wellness

    USA , 2007 , 90 min. Crafted on a less-than-shoestring budget from the improvisations of nonprofessional actors, this American tragedy centers on a Willy Lomanesque salesman who gives everything he’s got to a pyramid scheme that ends in his ruin.... more
  • Woodpecker

    Woodpecker

    USA , 2008 , 87 min. Gently mocking the hoopla surrounding reported sightings of the ivory-billed woodpecker (chronicled more seriously in Lord God Bird, also in this year’s festival), this mock-doc follows the desperate quest of a crazed birdwatcher to find the avian legend.... more
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: The Wrestler

    Breaking the Fourth Wall: The Wrestler

    USA , 2008 , 105 min. Breaking the Fourth Wall is a collaborative effort between the Denver Film Society and Curious Theatre Company to bridge the gap between theater, film and issues facing society today. This film plays great before or after watching THE ELABORATE ENTRANCE OF CHAD DEITY, Now Playing at more
  • Yonkers Joe

    Yonkers Joe

    USA , 2008 , 102 min. MUST END Thursday, January 22 35mm presentation - Yonkers Joe (Chazz Palminteri) is a small-time dice hustler always looking for his next score. He cruises the casinos along the Atlantic seaboard with his girlfriend, Janice (Christine Lahti), devising ways to outwit the multitude of ... more
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