“Keep On, Keepin’ On”– it should have been the Closing Night film for SDFF37!

Keep On, Keepin’ On  is an inspiring film about the jazz trumpeter, Clark Terry and his legacy: his mentorship of young jazz musicians.  Quincy Jones, Herbie Hancock and Diana Reeves all pay tribute to this wonderful man.  When Australian filmmaker, Alan Hicks began making this film, he’d film for 3 months and then tour as a musician for 3 month to earn enough money to continue.  When he made the decision to return to his home, Hicks was convinced by Clark Terry that he needed to stay in Arkansas and finish telling the story. So he sold his surfboard to finance the airfare to Sundance to find a producer.  There he meet Paula DuPré Pesmen.  She was no stranger to first-time filmmakers having produced both The Cove and Chasing Ice. Together, they embarked on a musical journey that Paula said, “honors the joy of Clark’s enduring spirit”.

unnamed (3)

Red carpet at Starz–“Keep On, Keepin’ On”

Alan Hicks had been following the story of Clark Terry’s relationship with young blind protégé, Justin Kauflin.  Both Justin and Dianna Reeves were in Denver for the screening.  Alan Hicks and his wife now live in Denver, something he says, he could never have imagined. “Here”, he says incredulously, “they ski and make movies–and there’s this wonderful film community!”

unnamed (4)

Dianna Reeves graces us with her vibrant presence

Introducing "Keep On, Keepin' On" SDFF37

Alan Hicks, Paula DuPré Pesmen and Brit from the Denver Film Society

Keep On, Keepin' On at SDFF37


unnamed (2)

Justin Kauflin plays piano at the Buell Theater in Denver, CO

Lisa Kennedy from the Denver Post led an animated discussion and then, Justin Kauflin played two piano pieces: one, the theme music he composed for the film, called “Exodus” and the composition he titled, “For Clark”.

Justin has been on tour with Quincy Jones and has recorded an album.  He still speaks weekly with Clark Terry and if he still isn’t confident in “his voice”; Justin knows he’s blessed to have had this wonderful experience with the best mentor anyone could ever hope for. Clark Terry is a jazz legend who links the past with all the jazz greats he played with, to the future, with all the jazz talents he’s trained.

Keep On, Keepin’ On  was awarded the True Grit Award and both screenings were major crowd-pleasers. Too bad the Starz Denver Film Festival decided they needed to program “Like Sunday, Like Rain”, in the hopes of some celebrity attendance that didn’t happen.  They “missed the boat” on having this amazing film, with its local connection, as the feel-good Closing Night film!

Keep On Keepin’ On opens at the Sie Film Center December 5! TICKETS


Cinema celebrates Science! Three films fit for geeks, nerds and sci-fi fans but made for everyone!

Fellow geeks and nerds, rejoice!  Science is in the news and on the big screen and for once–it’s all good news!

First we have the incredible news about the European Space Agency landing a spacecraft on a the comet. “We’re there, and Philae is talking to us,” says Stephan Ulamec, the manager of the lander, “We are on the comet.”  This is big news.  We even had a special Google doodle with Philae on it.


In theaters now and coming soon, are three films that celebrate science!  Interstellar is Christopher Nolan’s latest mind-bender, with a variety of screening options (3-D, IMAX) and it’s an amazing immersive experience any way you choose to see it.  It’s science fiction but with a strong science background. A producer credit is given to Kip Thorne, an American theoretical physicist, known for his contributions in gravitational physics and astrophysics.

The setting of Instellar may be the future, but the film is firmly grounded in the personal. The narrative is driven by the emotional pull Matthew McConaughey‘s character feels to return across space and time to be reunited with his family.  The performances in the film are outstanding.  From the beginning, the film embeds you in the lives of one family. Using the isolation of a small farm with the emotional connection audience’s feel for well-known actors (McConaughey and John Lithgow), strong family bonds are quickly established. The focus is on the daughter who yearns to follow in her father’s footsteps.  Mackenzie Foy is remarkable as the 10-year who will grow up to be the scientist, Jessica Chastain. They are the heart beat to the science that fills the screen with action.

The scenes in space are thrilling and tense but without the central theme of family ties and the father-daughter bond, the audience might get lost in the technical jargon and be set adrift as an observer in the alien worlds.  Instead, despite some clunky dialogue, you care about scientist Anne Hathaway and her love for both her father and a fellow astronaut trapped on a far away star and the fate of this crew.  Will they save the Earth or be forced to start a new colony while all they know and love is left behind to perish?  You will be left thinking about the science but it’s the emotional drama that will stay with you.

Today comes the announcement that the Turing Award has been tripled.  What is that you say?  It’s an award named after Alan Turing, an English mathematician, wartime code-breaker and pioneer of computer science. Raising the endowment to a cool million puts this award in the Nobel Prize territory.  It also brings an unexpected boost to a film opening this week in Britain and screening this Sat, Nov 15 at the Starz Denver Film Festival.  The Imitation Game stars Benedict Cumberbatch, in an Oscar-caliber performance as the code-breaker who along with a stellar British cast (Keira KnightleyMatthew GoodeMark Strong) tells the stirring story of trying to end World War II.  Brilliantly bringing this mathematician, with all his flaws, to life, Cumberbatch embodies the ego and lack of interpersonal skills that almost lose him access to the project he loves.  If you’ve never heard of Alan Turing or know nothing of his work, this thrilling film will be an education. Turing was an incredible man and this film is a tribute to his brain-power but also his bravery.  He triumphed over incredible odds and was subject to punishing discrimination.

And finally, in another fabulous turn (I couldn’t help it) of events, The Theory of Everything  is coming to a theater near you.  This is the story of the young Stephen Hawkings and his incredible wife.  Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones give extraordinary performances in this intimate story of Hawking’s struggle to live a full life and continue his ground-breaking work about Time.  Redmayne gets the physicality of the role but also manages to portray the essence of Hawking’s drive and humanity and Jones does a lot of the heavy lifting–both literally and metaphorically–to bring this story to life.

There’s a great piece on Buzzfeed about Eddy’s work to transform his body.

A film about Space, one about the origins of Computers and one featuring the study of Time; Cinema celebrates Science and we are all the better for it!


Ratings: 1-5

Interstellar: 4 beers chugged on the porch with Matthew.  Bechdel rating: You go (to the stars) girl!  Yes, it passes with flying colors.

The Imitation Game: awkward conversation ensues as 5 British beers are swilled in a pub.  Bechdel rating: passes: thanks to Keira Knightley’s portrayal of a women who defies convention to join the code-breaking inner circle.  Her role is crucial in the film.

The Theory of Everything: 5 champagne glasses–the fancy kind you serve at a wedding for a couple overcoming all odds.  Bechdel rating: passes: Jane Hawking’s inspiring story is the basis of this film and without her determination, Stephen’s story may not have had a happy ending.





What are you going to see at Starz?

The Denver Film Festival kicks off this Wed, Nov 12th at the Sie Film Center and continues till Nov 23rd.and what a wealth of exciting films, panels and parties!
The printed program is difficult to read: tiny print and chaotic layout with a calendar grid that will make you blind.  Fortunately, the online version is clear and concise.
Here are a few of my favorite films in the program:
The Imitation Game–Sat, Nov 15 @ 8pm
​Sure to be an Oscar-contender for Best Film and for Benedict Cumberbatch–this is a thrilling biopic of Alan Turing, the Brit who broke the Enigma Code in World War II.
Keep on Keepin’ On–Sat, Nov 22 @ 2pm
There have been some wonderful documentaries about music this year and this is a particularly heart-warming film about a famous jazz musician and his blind prodigy.
The Look of Silence–two screenings
Director Joshua Oppenheimer’s companion piece to The Act of Killing (nominated for an Oscar), this documentary follows one man’s emotional journey to find closure by confronting the members of the death squad who killed his brother (and thousands of others) in the Indonesian massacre of the 1960’s.​  Horrifying and heart-rendering.  An amazing work!
Two Days, One Night–multiple screenings
One of the Dardenne brothers most accessible films, Juliette Binoche gives an understated, touching performance as a women who must convince her fellow workers to give up their bonus to save her job.  Simple and brutally-honest.
3 Still Standing-Mon, Nov 17 @ 3:45 & 9pm
One of my favorite documentaries from the Mill Valley Film Fest, this showcase of three comedians, Will Durst, Larry”Bubbles”Brown and Johnny Steele is a loveable tale of some wickedly funny guys.
See the early show and stay for a stand-up show with the comedians.  It’s a perfect way to experience the film!
There are great documentaries, features and short films with an interesting program of Brazilian cinema, Queer films and a spotlight on Women + Film and Colorado Filmmakers.
I hope to see you at Happy Hour at Henderson’s!
I’ll be holding a Manhattan and trying to decipher my notes scribbled in the dark!

What to do when your town has no movie theater…

No theater?  No problema.

Life, liberty and the pursuit of movies…oh wait, is film not as important as all that?!

Well, to some of us, movies are right up there – on par with a beer at a local watering hole or dinner out on the town.  But what do you do if your town has no movie theater?  Here in Boulder County, there are a few places with no Cineplex.  Longmont will have an upscale cinema in the new Twin Peaks Mall but until then, both Longmont and the village of Niwot are sans cinema.

2014-08-02 15.27.33

What might seem like an absence is an illusion.  With a little planning and bit of adventure, you’ll find there are plenty of chances to go to the movies.  Libraries, Universities, art galleries and even unexpected venues may have film nights you weren’t aware of—many with films that would never have a chance to screen at a local Cineplex.

Firehouse Art Center in Longmont has hosted Free Film Night on the 1st Friday of the month for the last few years.  I’ve had the pleasure of programming some of the most recent screenings with local documentary films and film festival favorites.  This Friday, November 6, features a filmed live performance of “Rocks Karma Arrows”.  This production by the Motus Theater group recalls the Sand Creek Massacre that happened 20 years ago and how it’s influenced the history of Boulder County.  The screening will be followed with a discussion with the director, Kristen Wilson.  And did I mention…it’s FREE. 7pm, Firehouse Art Center1172785_663452923679966_568692727_o

How about a cinematic vacation in Italy?  With a visit to the CU campus, you can travel with the International Film Series on a comedy road trip with Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon on “The Trip to Italy”.  The companion piece to the witty, and often silly, British restaurant tour, “The Trip” (2010), this film is screening Fri and Sat @ 7:30 in Muenzinger Auditorium.  There’s also a lovely German film, “The Strange Little Cat” for those interested in an artful look at chaotic family life by a talented first-time filmmaker—Sun, also 7:30 @ the Muenzinger Auditorium.  $8 general admission.

There are films screened at many public libraries and Longmont has a night for Teens and Tweens they call Longmont Library After Dark! Students in grades 6-12 enjoy pizza, gaming, movies, and an anime club! This is designed to be a drop-off program so please register by calling 303-651-8477.  Participants need to be signed up by noon, Nov 8 to ensure adequate staffing.  For an Oscar-winning documentary, come see “Man on Wire” (2008) Thu, Nov 13 as part of the “Great 21st-Century Documentaries” @ 7:30.  Free, Longmont Library.

We have a few film screens dedicated to art-house and independent film in Boulder County: the Boedecker Theater at the Diary Center for the Arts, Cinearts at the Century Theater in Boulder and there are short films screened before all films at the Cinebarre Theater in Louisville…but did you know that there are screenings at eTown Hall?  This coming week, there is the documentary “Arise” on Nov 11 presented by Global Greengrants Fund focusing on women and the environment and Nov 13 — Best of BIFF Shorts: some of the best short films from 10 year’s of the Boulder International Film Festival.  Both screenings at 7pm at eTown Hall. $10 plus ticket fees.

This is just a smattering of the film offerings in Boulder County.  There’s always something cinematic happening in your ‘hood.  You just need to know where to look!

Did I miss a film listing or a film event in Boulder County for this coming week?

Well, don’t let it happen again!  Email me at 2jillie@gmail.com or post a comment!