by Kathleen St. John on January 7, 2009
There are so many things to love about Festivus: The feats of strength, the odd film titles, magic moments around the Festivus pole.
The Festivus Film Festival, a Denver-based indie-film celebration, has the same spirit as the “Seinfeld”-created, fictional holiday — a secular celebration for folks not interested in the usual winter holidays. It’s all about community-building, feats of filmmaking strength and vigorous partying.
The event’s second year kicks off Thursday, the first of four nights. Festivus is bigger than last year, with more than 50 films, long and short, showing at two venues: The Oriental Theater (4335 W. 44th Ave.) and the Bug Theatre (3654 Navajo St.).
“The first and definitely best change is that it’s four days long,” says festival director Johnathan McFarlane. “Another big addition is a pass-holder lounge.” Because Festivus attracts a more party-oriented breed of film buff, the Festivus Lounge at Next Gallery (3659 Navajo St.) offers drinks and relaxation for those who purchase a full-festival pass.
“It’s a place people can go between screenings to hang out and mingle with filmmakers,” says McFarlane. “And, of course, the drinks are free.” Festivus has its own nightlife too, starting right after the films finish. Thursday’s screenings ends with an after party at Forest Room 5 (2532 15th St.). Friday brings another bash at the Oriental as soon as the night’s selection, “Courting Condi,” rolls its credits.
(Yes, “Courting Condi” is about a guy falling in love with Condoleezza Rice. “A musical, docu-tragic comedy is what they’re calling it,” says McFarlane.) Starting around 11 p.m., the bar will sling drinks while Denver band UmConscious plays a set of funk-inflected hip-hop. The party is free and open to the public — no festival pass required.
“We’re trying to get people who wouldn’t otherwise come to a film fest there,” McFarlane says. McFarlane says its OK to come a little early too, around 10:30 p.m. — you might catch a bit of the “Courting Condi” question-and-answer session.
Saturday is the big Festivus blowout and awards night at The Lure (1434 Blake St.). Festivalgoers, filmmakers and like-minded partyers will gather to salute another Festivus gone by and to hand out a few Festivus honors.
“We’ll just stop the party and announce the awards, take some photos and get right back to the party,” says McFarlane. Just like at Friday’s Oriental shindig, anyone can attend the free Festivus wrap-up. McFarlane is committed to keeping Festivus as egalitarian and pretension-free as possible.
“We’re doing a film festival Denver-style,” he says. “We’re not so much about the red carpet events. We’re more about the party — it’s not an uptight kind of thing.” Sunday is the come-down day for Festivus, concluding with a triple-header of short films at the Bug. There will be drinks afterward, naturally. True to the Festivus ethos, McFarlane says they’ll probably just invite the audience along to a nearby watering hole.
A full schedule of films and events is at festivusfilmfestival.com A festival pass is $30 — visit the website to purchase. Single-screening tickets are $7 each. Keep in mind that the Bug Theatre box office is cash only.
– WHAT RECESSION? –
Just up Blake Street from LoDo, Club 303 (2301 Blake St.) will try to bring a little LoDo liveliness to the quieter Ballpark neighborhood at its grand opening Saturday.
If you like models, you’ll like the party. It’s hosted by “supermodel” Joanna Krupa and features a live photo shoot with 25 local models. Occupying the old Polly Esther’s space, Club 303 promises a multilevel playground for nightlifers, while trying to avoid the boring traps of both lounge and dance-club cultures. And there will be models.
There’s no cover for Saturday’s grand opening — arrive early to take advantage of an open bar from 9 to 10 p.m.
– Kathleen St. John