The Starz Denver Film Festival is pivotal to the [mental] well being of its citizens and, the best reason for celebration as the winter sets in. This is when film freaks soak up miles of celluloid. We savor the taste of never to be seen again movies from Belgium, Holland, Australia, France, Japan, etc. The SDFF is two weeks in November when movie lovers become anxious. How can one see every movie? As god is my witness, I try.
Our cinema intrigued city is made up of movie addicts and, not just run-of-the-mill, general-audience movie-viewing nerds. Denver and its cinema aficionados are true silver screen fans. Very few cities the size of Denver have more than one Indie Film theatre. Denver has four – The Mayan, Sie, Esquire, Chez Artiste – each regularly bring thought provoking, real and spectacular films to hungry celluloid freaks.
As the 36th Starz Denver Film Festival gears up, some lucky writers are given the opportunity to view screeners. I try to take advantage of the couple of weeks before it all begins to see as many screeners and screenings as possible.
As I went through the list of screeners, I picked Hannah Ranch in my first batch to watch. It set the tone. Colorado is no longer just a state West of the Mason Dixon line. It has become an important hub for movies, airlines, sports teams, politics and sustainability issues focusing on the environment, animals, products, waste management, economic growth, organic food and preserving farms and ranch land. The movie Hannah Ranch brought those thoughts home.
The movie is about all the above. But more importantly it is about one family’s love of the land. The Hannah Ranch was established in the 1940’s and continues today. Their story is not unusual nor joyous. If you’ve read or seen ‘Lonesome Dove,’ living off the land, farming, ranching, it is continuous hard work. Every day.
Mitch Dickman, director/producer, hit on every nerve of old Colorado ranching families. Today, living off the land means staving off growth from every direction. Just living with and repairing fractured family disputes for preserving family traditions is daily. The constant knowledge of developments creeping closer to threaten historical land boundaries. There’s a significant difference between city dwellers and ranchers. City folk don’t think much about the land. But to the Hannah’s and original Colorado landowners, the land and how to keep it close to the heart is an all consuming way of life. Ranches are dying. Hannah Ranch is a movie about keeping watch over the dying. Kirk Hannah, cattleman and industry leader, represented in Fast Food Nation, was known as the eco-cowboy for his early holistic resource management practices. He gave it his all.
As you will see in the movie, there’s nothing quite like the view of the Rocky Mountains while sitting atop your horse before the sun has fully risen or, the smell of fresh cut hay, animal sounds, cattle smells mixed with…the opening of a new Walmart directly across the road.
“Yesterday’s gone on down the river and you can’t get it back.”
― Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove