Denver Film Media Contacts:

Marty Schechter, Alexandra Dunne, Jon Ewing, Heather Collins

October 11, 2022,,,

Denver Film Festival announces award honorees and special guests

Writer Samuel D. Hunter; Actor Raúl Castillo; Filmmaker James Benning; and Activist Rev. Al Sharpton scheduled to appear

DENVER – Denver Film announced today its initial list of award recipients and special guests for the 45th Denver Film Festival (DFF45), Nov. 2 – 13 at locations across the metro area. Highlighting the in-person guest list are Writer Samuel D. Hunter; Actor Raúl Castillo; Filmmaker James Benning; and activist Rev. Al Sharpton.

Hunter, award-winning playwright and screenwriter of THE WHALE, will receive the Denver Film Festival Excellence in Writing Award following a special screening of the film on Saturday, Nov. 12, at 4 p.m., at Denver Botanic Gardens. Best known for plays such as A Bright New Boise, for which he won the 2011 Obie Award for playwriting, Hunter also has been recognized with the Drama Desk Award for The Whale, as well as the 2013 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Play, and was the recipient of a 2014 MacArthur “Genius Grant” Fellowship. Beyond plays, Samuel D. Hunter was also a writer and producer on all four seasons of the FX show Baskets.

Castillo, a Mexican-American actor and playwright with notable performances across film, television, and theater, will receive the Denver Film Festival Excellence in Acting Award on Wednesday, Nov. 9, at Denver Botanic Gardens prior to the screening of THE INSPECTION, a DFF45 Special Presentation. In THE INSPECTION, Castillo stars as the sympathetic superior, Drill Sergeant Rosales opposite Jeremy Pope, a role that tests character, friendship, and stamina. Castillo is best known for his portrayal of Paps in the critically acclaimed independent feature We the Animals, which brought him an Independent Spirit Award nomination. A CineLatinx program reception is scheduled in his honor before the screening presented by Amazon.

This year’s Denver Film Festival Stan Brakhage Vision Award will be presented to filmmaker James Benning at 7 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 6 at the Sie FilmCenter. Benning, an American independent filmmaker and educator, has been making unique independent films for more than 40 years. His films are known for portraying the American landscape and critical exploration of history, memory, and documentary traditions while concentrating on the “landscape as a function of time.” Benning has made more than 25 feature-length films and has received grants from the Rockefeller Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, the American Film Institute, and the National Endowment for the Arts, among others.

This year’s Maria and Tommaso Maglione Italian Filmmaker Award will be presented to writer, director Mario Martone for his film THE KING OF LAUGHTER screening Nov. 4, 3:30 p.m. in the Maglione Theater at the Sie FilmCenter. The film stars Toni Servillo as the comic theater legend Eduardo Scarpetta, for which Servillo won Best Actor at the 2021 Venice Film Festival. The film also won Silver Ribbons for Best Screenplay and Best Director from the Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists. Martone’s new film, Nostalgia, is Italy’s official submission for Best International Feature Film for the 2023 Academy Awards.

Each year, the Italian Filmmaker Award recipient is honored at the Denver Film Festival and receives an honorarium of $10,000 made possible through a generous endowment from the Anna & John J. Sie Foundation. The award is named in honor of Anna Sie’s parents, Maria and Tommaso Maglione.

In addition, DFF45’s Nov. 10, Big Night Red Carpet presentation of the documentary LOUDMOUTH will feature a pre-screening discussion with the film’s spotlight character, the Rev. Al Sharpton, as well as Director, Josh Alexander. Presented in partnership with Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival (MVAAFF), Co-Founder Stephanie Rance will lead the discussion with Rev. Sharpton as a part of the Color of Conversation series at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House.

“We’re eager to share with our attendees the accomplishments, creativity and passion represented by this year’s award honorees and special guests,” said Denver Film Festival Artistic Director Matthew Campbell.

DFF45 passes and tickets to individual screenings, Special Presentations, Red Carpets, Panels and Creative Conversations are on sale at:

The Press Accreditation application is open for the 45th Denver Film Festival (DFF45). The application and guidelines to be considered for Accreditation can be found on the DFF45 website or by clicking here. Applications close Friday, Oct. 14 at 11:59 p.m.

2022 Denver Film Festival Sponsors:

MARQUEE: Anna and John J. Sie Foundation, Amazon, AOR, Barbara Bridges, Catering by Design, Denver Botanic Gardens, Liberty Global, Moye White, Sheila K. O’Brien, University of Denver Department of Languages, Literatures & Cultures, Xfinity

SPOTLIGHT: Butler Rents, Caz Matthews, NPU Events, SeriesFest, William LaBahn

STUDIO: American Airlines

CAMEO: CORT, CFVA, Crested Butte Film Festival, Eldorado Natural Spring Water, Infinite Monkey Theorem, Newberry Brothers, Ratio Beerworks, Taloma Partners, The Family Jones, The Palm Group – Baird, TV5MONDE, Unrated Cab

PARTNERS: Colorado Dragon Boat Film Festival, Denver Arts & Venues, Ken’s Prints & Graphics, Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival, The Color of Conversation

GOVERNMENT & FOUNDATIONS: Bonfils-Stanton Foundation, Colorado Creative Industries, Colorado Office of Film, Television and Media, Consulate General of Canada, Consulate General of Ireland, Istituto Italiano di Cultura, Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD)

FILM: Ballard Spahr, Canada Now, Colorado Environmental Film Festival, GHP Investment Advisors, La Colombe, Parry, SAGindie, The Center for African American Health, Visit Denver

MEDIA: 5280, CBS4, Denver Life, Pearl Street Marketing

About Denver Film

Founded in 1978, Denver Film is a membership-based, 501(c)(3) nonprofit cultural institution that produces film events throughout the year, including the award-winning Denver Film Festival and the popular, summertime series Film on the Rocks. With a vision to cultivate community and transform lives through film, Denver Film provides opportunities for diverse audiences to discover film through creative, thought-provoking experiences.

The permanent home of Denver Film, the Sie FilmCenter is Denver’s only year-round cinematheque, presenting a weekly-changing calendar of first-run exclusives and arthouse revivals both domestic and foreign, narrative and documentary – over 600 per year, all shown in their original language and format. Denver Film’s one-of-a-kind programs annually reach more than 200,000 film lovers and film lovers-in-training.

Denver Film