For 30 years, the peripatetic Ron Henderson has been a driving force behind the Denver Film Society and its International Film Festival.
This year, the veteran film curator and executive is stepping aside from his long-running role as Denver’s artistic director to become its senior programming consultant, passing his baton to long-time program director Brit Withey. Britta Erickson serves as director of festivals.
During Henderson’s reign, the Denver Film Society has grown steadily, now running a seven-screen independent Moviehouse on the Campus of the Denver University. The Society organizes a number of specialized film festivals throughout the year and also produces its flagship Starz Denver Film Festival, an 11-day international showcase presenting top international features on 12 screens throughout Denver. The Festival boasts an annual audience of over 40,000 viewers.
Throughout the years, Henderson and his team have added significantly to the awards the festIval bestows, including the Krzysztof Kieslowski Award for Best Feature Film, the Maysles Brothers Award for Best Documentary and the John Cassavetes Award.
As part of the cultural activities surrounding the 2008 Democratic Convention in the swing state of Colorado, the Denver Film Society asked filmmakers to marry their cinematic creativity with a commitment to the political process. And thus the Society’s new online film festival, Cinemocracy, was born.
More than 120 films from all over the country on various themes about democracy were submitted to the inaugural festival, including many from Denver filmmakers. The winning film, Democracy: A Steady, Loving Confrontation, by Jen Saffron, was awarded $2,500 and invited to screen at last November’s Starz Denver International Film Festival.
Following the huge success of Cinemocracy, festival director Erickson announced that the Denver Film Society will offer a regular open source festival focusing on a political theme. It’s message: watch out and get involved.
The next Starz Denver Film Festival will take place November 12 to 22, 2009.