Stanley Film Fest programming director's picks for the fest

R100 will kick you in your face.
Tonight at the world-famous Stanley Hotel, the Stanley Film Festival will kick off its second year with Alexandre O. Philippe's look at zombie culture, Doc of the Dead. [Disclosure: I appear in Doc of the Dead.] Sunday, the fest closes with the horror comedy What We Do in the Shadows, starring Jemaine Clement of Flight of the Conchords. In between, more than two dozen films will show, far more than you can reasonably cram in, especially if you also make time for the audio play, the immersive horror game and the myriad other activities filling the weekend. Some of those films are from big-name horror directors -- Takashi Miike, Ti West and Nacho Vigalondo, to name a few. Some are well-loved classics. Choosing between those is a simple matter of priorities.

But with the rest, there are some hard decisions to be made -- with not much info to go on. To ease this process, we asked Landon Zakheim, the festival's programming director, for his picks for under-the-radar films for every taste, from experimental horror to horror comedy. Here, in his words, are the films to look out for -- and why you should make time for them.

See also: Local filmmakers unleash zombie doc Doc of the Dead at SXSW

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Stanley Film Festival will open with Doc of the Dead

The Stanley Film Festival just announced its opening-night film and other special, scarey events for the four-day fest, which kicks off April 24 at the historic Stanley Hotel. "The Stanley Hotel is consistently voted one of the most haunted hotels in the world, and they give over 75,000 ghost tours annually," says JoAnna Cintron, marketing and communications manager for the Denver Film Society, which co-produces the festival. "You wont find a better venue to host a world-class destination horror film festival."

See also: Local filmmakers unleash zombie documentary Doc of the Dead at SXSW

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Photos: Festival of Balloons features unbelievable balloon sculptures

Categories: Festivals

Pioneer® Balloon Company
The balloon art that you'll see at the Festival of Balloons -- a celebration of balloon sculpture that runs from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Sheraton Downtown Denver Hotel this coming Sunday, March 30 -- will make the typical balloon dog or balloon bouquet look like a child's scribblings amidst artistic masterpieces. The organizers have solicited help from some of the best balloon sculptors on the planet to create the featured works. For a sample of what you'll be able to see Sunday, check out the photos below.

See also: Artist Viviane Le Courtois seeks Boulder flood relics for a new sculpture

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Photos: St. Patrick's Day cheer for all ages on Old South Pearl Street

Categories: Festivals, Photos

Happy St. Patrick's Day! The whole town was painted green from head to toe this weekend, but on Old South Pearl Street, the emerald sheen was positively glowing Saturday: From the Lucky Charms with green milk breakfast for families to the adults-only pleasures of green beer (and stronger spirits of a golden color, as well), the street fest offered something for everyone. Photographer Brandon Marshall brought back these photos of the fun and festivities.

See also: St. Patrick's Day Bikes and Beers crawl 2014

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Scary! Second annual Stanley Film Festival coming to Estes Park in April

The most notorious haunted hotel in the world, the Stanley Hotel, inspiration for The Shining, will host the second annual Stanley Film Festival, April 24-27. Organized by the Denver Film Society, the festival fits right into the historic hotel, with a theme -- presented by NBC Universal's Chiller TV -- that celebrates the best in independent horror cinema.

See also: Murder by Death at the Stanley Hotel

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Documentary producer Chelsea Matter on The Human Experiment and the fight for cleaner products

Taking a sober look at the thousands of untested household chemicals triggering disease is enough to make a person panic and run for the hills. But the activists and filmmakers behind The Human Experiment, which screens on Saturday, February 22 as part of the Colorado Environmental Film Festival, do just the opposite: they wage a fight against the chemical industry and demand change. Westword spoke with independent producer Chelsea Matter about her work on The Human Experiment.

See also: Photos: Protestor defies lawsuit threat from development near Rocky Flats

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MM Serra on whether Johnny Minotaur is art or obscene teen-exploitation

MM Serra
MM Serra is struggling to find a New York City venue bold enough to exhibit Charles Henri Ford's 1971 surrealist memoir film, Johnny Minotaur. Nobody wants to bite. This experimental classic examines teen sexuality with explicit homoerotic imagery. Several institutions refuse to show it because curators believe the performers look like minors and that the film violates basic standards of decency, she says.

Serra, executive director of The Film-Makers Cooperative, will be at the Sie FilmCenter this Saturday night to present a new print of this controversial film as part of the Denver Film Society's four-day Sex Shop Cinema series. She speaks with Westword about her programming work, 21st century censorship and why Denver has been friendlier to Johnny Minotaur than New York's art establishment.

See also: Sex Shop Cinema: Puppet porn, butter-for-lube and more (NSFW)

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Top five picks for the 10th Boulder International Film Festival from Kathy Beeck

Hayao Miyazaki's The Wind Rises is just one of many films playing at this year's Boulder International Film Festival.
It can be overwhelming to navigate the wide variety of films and panels that run February 13 through 16 at the tenth annual Boulder International Film Festival. Luckily you can't go wrong, says director and co-founder Kathy Beeck. The common thread is good storytelling. From the free Youth Pavilion to the Call to Action Program committed to social justice, the festival is packed with tons of interesting programming, including action-inspiring documentaries, comedies and panel discussions.

"We always say that film has the power to change the world," says Beeck. "You can get inspired to act, you can get inspired to volunteer, you can learn something, you can be entertained. This is really the best program we've ever had." In advance of the festival, we had Beeck choose five of her favorite films. Here they are:

See also: Philip Seymour Hoffman, heroin and the secret club of addiction

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Sex Shop Cinema: Puppet porn, butter-for-lube and more (NSFW)

Whether you are a raincoat-wearing heavy-breather, an academic seeking fodder for educational frottage or a run-of-the-mill cineaste, beware: You had better be of age and hope the city authorities do not bust up this festival. The Denver Film Society has curated a lineup of erotic films sure to fan your flames of desire and debate -- so grab your favorite lube and check out our handy guide to the eleven films in the DFS Sex Shop Cinema.

See also: The best BDSM movies: Five more options for your viewing pleasure (Iimages are NSFW)

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Photos: Chinese New Year festivities at the Far East Center

Categories: Festivals, Photos
Federal Boulevard's Far East Center is known for throwing one of the best outdoor Chinese New Year celebrations in town, replete with lion and dragon dances, firecracker volleys, kung fu and ice-carving demos, and plenty of shopping and dining options on the sidelines. The center will host a second round of celebrations with Wah Lum Denver at noon on Saturday, February 8.

Photographer Ken Hamblin was on-hand to capture the initial welcome to the Year of the Horse on February 1; keep reading for a look at the action.

See also: Best Asian Treasures -- Cheap: Truong An

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