Matt Campbell, who was named interim artistic director of the Denver Film Festival after the death of his predecessor, Brit Withey, earlier this year, is our guide to the cinematic event’s 42nd edition, which continues through November 10. Campbell has chosen a must-see film for each day of the fest. Keep reading to get his take on the November 4 selection: Women Make Film: A New Road Movie Through Cinema, Part 1.
Women Make Film: A New Road Movie Through Cinema, Part 1
Directed by Mark Cousins
Monday, November 4, 6 p.m., UA Pavilions
Watch out, Ken Burns. Women Make Film: A New Road Movie Through Cinema, the latest opus from director Mark Cousins, is a documentary about women filmmakers with a running time of fourteen hours. Don’t worry about consuming it in one sitting, though. The UA Pavilions is spotlighting one of its five parts each night this week at the same time, and a pass for all the screenings is available. “I think Mark made it specifically so you can pop in and out of it and not feel like you have to see it from the beginning or watch the entirety of it if you don’t have time,” Matt Campbell says. “But I think it’s more rewarding if you do.”
He sums up the appeal of the documentary like so: “It’s kind of like going to a university for a film studies class about women filmmakers, and your professor is Tilda Swinton.”
Here’s the trailer for Women Make Film: A New Road Movie Through Cinema.
When it comes to Women Make Film, Swinton isn’t the equivalent of actor Peter Coyote, documentarian Burns’s favorite narrator. She’s one of many female filmmakers and stars who guide viewers through Cousins’s survey, which follows his sprawling 2011 offering, The Story of Film: An Odyssey.
The new work “is broken up into forty chapters, and each chapter investigates one aspect of what makes a great film,” Campbell explains. “Chapter one, for instance, is about opening sequences, and there are all of these great clips. But they’re all clips from female-directed films.”
As a bonus, Cousins doesn’t stop at brand names. “You’ll see a fair amount of clips from directors like Kathryn Bigelow and Agnès Varda,” the French new-wave groundbreaker at the center of another festival doc, Varda by Agnès. “But a lot of the films are more obscure and have an international slant. I would expect that most people won’t be familiar with a lot of these films, which makes the clips more interesting — because it will make you want to go out and see them.”
Both Women Make Film and Varda by Agnès are part of a festival sidebar about the art of the movies that will include panel discussions intended to further expand a viewer’s knowledge about the medium. “We’re partnering with D-phi [the Denver Project for Humanistic Inquiry, a Metropolitan State University of Denver project] for a couple of conversations. They’re a philosophy and humanities group where professors from Metro and UCD identify films and have discussions and really dive into them. So it’s a way for people who love cinema to engage on another level.”