Local Lists: Britta Erickson


Festival Director Britta Erickson in action

Greetings!  And welcome to another film festival edition of Local Lists!  This local list is from Denver Film Society’s Festival Director, Britta Erickson.  With nearly 15 Starz Denver Film Festivals under her belt, Britta knows what’s up when it comes to festival talk (and festival fashion).  Read on for Britta’s festival-going tips, can’t miss special events, and which movie tickets you should buy now…before it’s too late!  The festival starts in exactly one week people – get on it!

Name:  Britta Erickson

Occupation:  Festival Director at the Denver Film Society

A little about yourself:  I am a Denver native.  I studied Broadcast Journalism and Art History at Southern Methodist University.  I quickly realized that the news business would make me as crazy as Holly Hunter’s character in Broadcast News, so naturally I found my way to the very sane world (ha!) of entertainment.  As the founding Executive Director of the Acoma Center, I ran a twice-yearly film series in conjunction with the Denver Art Museum, and co-founded and produced for Curious Theatre Company.  In 1999, I jumped in to help the Denver Film Society when they needed a publicist for the 22nd Denver International Film Festival.  It was supposed to be a 3-month commitment, but I fell in love with the organization and here I am, looking down the barrel of my 15th Starz Denver Film Festival.

Favorite movie character ever:  Holly Golightly [from Breakfast at Tiffany’s].  She is so chic and stylish, fanciful, and fun.  And, like her, I once got caught in the rain seeking something I’d lost.

Favorite movie character you love to hate:  The Wicked Witch of the West and her band of night-terror inspiring Flying Monkeys.

Favorite movie soundtrack:  Ahhh, such a tough question as I have quite a few favorites but, if I have to name just one – Pretty in Pink – Psychedelic Furs, OMD, Echo & the Bunnymen, INXS, New Order, Suzanne Vega, Morrissey/The Smiths…and our 36th Starz Denver Film Festival John Cassavetes Award recipient – Harry Dean Stanton singing “O Sole Mio.”  I’m a sucker for the 80s (and all things John Hughes).

Favorite moment in cinema:  So very many spanning the opening scene in Le Ballon Rouge, the first foreign film I ever saw thanks to a Saturday morning family film series that was a family ritual back in the day.  More recently, Django in the scene where we first meet Dr. King Schultz and his traveling dental wagon.  My favorite moment in cinema from a film that played in the Starz Denver Film Festival during my years here, is from Brokeback Mountain.  It is the scene – commonly referred to as “The Kiss” where Jack, after sending a postcard, comes to pick-up Ennis to go on a “fishing trip.”  Gustavo Santaolalla’s hauntingly beautiful score cues the unbridled emotions that overcome Ennis as he watches Jack arrive.  It’s a reunion filled with years of pent-up passion (and one of the greatest on-screen kisses ever).  And, the heartbreak which Alma (Ennis’ wife played by Michelle Williams) experiences as she realizes what is going on is quite simply the equivalent of a cinematic gut-punch.

Movie you wish was your life:  I’m not sure there is a movie I wish was my life but secretly I wish I was Hermione Granger [Harry Potter].  ‘Cause really…what girl doesn’t want to have a magic wand and a bag that can hold everything you might ever need at any given moment?  Although, I hope to never have the need to pull a tent out of my bag…I quite like hotels.

Favorite Starz Denver Film Festival Memory:  A lively dinner conversation with Sean Penn and Robin Wright Penn after Sean received the Cassavetes Award.  We talked for a good hour about a book we were all very jazzed about and thought would make for an amazing movie.  The book was Into the Wild.

Not to miss movie at the 2013 Starz Denver Film Festival:  Tim’s Vermeer…a fascinating documentary about one man’s obsessive quest to prove a theory and paint with his own hands a replica of Dutch master Johannes Vermeer’s The Music Lesson.  It is directed by Penn of the magic duo Penn & Teller, who takes his penchant for humor and exposing other people’s tricks behind the camera in his directorial debut.

britta and andy

Andy Garcia posing with Britta Erickson

Top 5 (or how many you want) movie recommendations for this year’s fest:  Labor Day, Nebraska, August: Osage County, Hanna Ranch, Code Black, and Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction with Harry Dean live and in-person.

Best non-movie event of this year’s festival:  Brunch with Carl Reiner.  Mr. Reiner is receiving the Jack Gilford Award for Comedy and is going to be joining us via Skype from his home in LA to discuss his career with Greg Moody.  There will be great food, mimosas and bloodies, and we’ve shipped his award out to a dear friend of his who is going to show up at his front door and surprise him.  I promise lots of laughs.

What are some of the other special event highlights?  Opening Night is always special and I encourage people to make a full evening of it.  We have a VIP Opening Night package that includes dinner at a Larimer Square restaurant of your choice, the Opening Night Red Carpet Presentation of Jason Reitman’s latest, Labor Day, followed by the Opening Night Party at McNichols Civic Center Building where you can mingle with fellow film lovers and dance the night away.

If someone has never attended the film fest before, why should they attend this year?  We have an incredibly strong slate of films again this year with something for everyone.  Hundreds of filmmakers will be in town to discuss their work with audiences.  If you love movies (and who doesn’t love movies?), you shouldn’t miss the region’s largest celebration of film.

Festival-going tips:  1) Buy your tickets early, things do sell out.  2) Take in a shorts package, festivals are the only place to see shorts on the big screen anymore.  3) Be adventurous and take a chance on something that might be out of your comfort zone…festivals are about discovery and discussion.  4) Hydrate.

What are you looking forward to doing after the festival is over:  Sleeping.

Any additional thoughts/plugs:  Explore the world of possibilities at denverfilm.org and “Paint the Town Red” November 6 – 17, 2013.