Festival History

Tim Robbins at the Denver Film Festival

Tim Robbins, 2006 recipient of the John Cassavetes Award …at the Starz Denver Film Festival, November, 2006

Since 1978, the DFS has worked to promote the medium as both an art form and a civic forum, developing a program that includes year-round screenings, community outreach projects and renowned special events. It is in fact the only nonprofit organization in Colorado dedicated to engaging both its members and the general public in a lifelong, life-altering relationship with and understanding of film and film culture. The twin pillars it has built on the foundation of this vision are the award-winning Denver Film Festival, now in its third decade, and the Sie FilmCenter.

Judy Greer at the Denver Film Festival

Judy Greer, 2011 recipient of the John Cassavetes Award


After eight great years at the Starz FilmCenter—a seven-screen independent moviehouse at the Tivoli Student Union that opened in 2002 with the generous support of the Starz Entertainment Group as well as the Scientific & Cultural Facilities District (SCFD)—the DFS celebrated the opening of its new home, the Sie FilmCenter, in 2010. From its new home theaters, the DFS is able to present 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, without any onscreen advertising.

Paolo and Vittorio Taviani

Paolo and Vittorio Taviani, recipients of the 2012 Maria & Tommaso Maglione Italian Filmmaker Award

In addition, the DFS organizes annual festivals such as Film on the Rocks, a cinema/concert series held throughout the summer at Red Rocks Amphitheatre. Which leads up to November’s flagship event: the Denver Film Festival, a twelve-day roster of international screenings, red-carpet premieres and awards ceremonies—among them the prestigious Krzysztof Kieslowski Award for Best Feature Film, the Maysles Brothers Award for Best Documentary and the achievement-based John Cassavetes Award.