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Starz Denver Film Festival focuses on events and panels

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By Christopher Harrop

The big names and exclusive events at the 2012 Starz Denver Film Festival aren’t just about A-list Hollywood names and rolling out the red carpet.
    While there are plenty of stars and features lined up, this year’s festival offers an eclectic mix of tributes and panels unlike most years, featuring luminaries such as actress Tippi Hedren (“The Birds”), zombie maestro George A. Romero and artist Stacey Steers.
    The special, non-film events kick off with critic Bob Denerstein’s panel on behind-the-scenes work in modern cinema, starting at noon Saturday, Nov. 3, at the Denver FilmCenter/Colfax, 2510 E. Colfax Ave.

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    While actor Vince Vaughn will be in town to receive the festival’s Cassavetes Award, numerous smaller panels with actors and filmmakers dot the schedule. Veteran comedic actor Bob Balaban (of Christopher Guest film fame) will receive the newly created Jack Gilford Award for Comedy while taking part in a 90-minute panel starting at 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 3, at the Denver Pavilions.
    Horror fans will get the special treat of seeing iconic director George A. Romero (“Dawn of the Dead”), author Max Brooks (“World War Z”) and Harvard psychiatry professor Steven Schlozman (author of “The Zombie Autopsies”) for a “town hall” discussion of all things zombie.
    Closing in on 50 years since its release, Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds” will screen at 4 p.m. Friday, Nov. 9, with actress Tippi Hedren in attendance at the L2 Arts and Culture Center, on hand to accept the Mayor’s Award for Career Achievement.
    As the festival nears its end, critic Bob Denerstein will sit down with director Neil LaBute (“In the Company of Men”) for a one-on-one discussion of LaBute’s work paired with screenings of his short films “Sexting” and “BFF.”

Also showing
    The Starz Denver Film Festival’s Focus on Nation series this year explores the cinema of Argentina. A number of Argentinian films will screen throughout the festival, including:
    — “All In,” a romantic comedy directed by Daniel Burman;
    — “Salt,” a darkly comedic meta-Western by Diego Rougier;
    — and “Germania,” a coming-of-age family and social drama by Maximiliano Schonfeld.
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    For more coverage of the festival and reviews of festival films, visit Chris Harrop’s film blog at cinerado.wordpress.com.