Godland: Must-See Selections from the 2022 Denver Film Festival

Again this year, Denver Film Festival Artistic director Matt Campbell offers up his must-have picks for each day of the festival – including plenty of movies moviegoers might otherwise miss amid the flood of silver-screen goodies. Today, he highlights the selections for November 11-13: An Evening with Mark Mothersbaugh, Lakota Nation vs. USA and Godland.

An Evening with Mark Mothersbaugh
7 p.m. on Friday, November 11
Denver Botanical Gardens

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Mark Mothersbaugh has come a long way since Devo.

Mark Mothersbaugh first made a name for himself in pop culture as the founder of the new-wave/punk-era band devo. But since the mid-1980s, when he provided much of the soundtrack for the wonderfully absurd Saturday morning staple Peewee Playhousehe was one of the busiest and most prolific composers in film and television.

“He’s had such a storied career,” says Matt Campbell, “and he’s going to talk about all of that. We’re not going to focus on just one movie. It’s going to be an overview of his work. There’s going to be excerpts from the movies he’s worked on; I don’t know if they’ve all decided, but I’m sure there will be some Wes Anderson”, the idiosyncratic director with whom Mothersbaugh collaborated on bottle rocket, Rushmore, aquatic life and The Royal Tenenbaums.

The chat, as Campbell sees it, “will be for both die-hard Mark Mothersbaugh fans and people who have never heard of him – but certainly have.”

The following interview offers an introduction to the world of Mothersbaugh:
Lakota Nation vs. United States
Directed by Jesse Short Bull, Laura Tomaselli
7:30 p.m. Saturday November 12
1 p.m. Sunday, November 13
AMC House 2

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A picture of Lakota Nation vs. United States.

“The title says it all,” Campbell notes of Lakota Nation. “It is about the history and current struggle of the Lakota people and the initial genocide against the Native American peoples by the United States government.”

The documentary covers a wide canvas, addressing “treaties that have been made and broken and the forced movements of reservations”. Dakota, which is their sacred ground, the land of their ancestors.”

As for Mount Rushmore, Campbell says, “the film shows how much of a slap in the face it really is for the Lakota people – creating this sculpture of presidents on the mountainside where their ancestors lived, and Trump suggesting that they should put it up there.”

Directors Jesse Short Bull and Laura Tomaselli are expected to be on hand for the screening, and Campbell looks forward to “a truly engaging conversation.”

Check out the trailer here:
Directed by Hlynur Palmason
3:45 p.m. Saturday November 12
4 p.m. Sunday, November 13
AMC House 4

Brit Withey, Campbell’s predecessor as artistic director of DFF, who died in a car accident around 2019, is the namesake of the Brit Withey Artistic Director Fund, which pays homage to the genre of films he loved while serving as a living memorial to his cinematic vision. This year, Campbell reveals, “Godland is the film that will receive this distinction. And it’s one of my favorite films in our entire schedule.”

The tale’s protagonist is “a young 19th-century Danish priest who travels to Iceland to build a church,” says Campbell. “He’s also a photographer, and he walks around photographing the landscape and the people. But as the journey progresses, it becomes more and more difficult for him. The earth begins to break him, and the people too. There’s also a lot of history that I wasn’t aware of between Denmark and Iceland” – which was once part of the Danish kingdom before declaring independence in 1944 — “It also plays a role.”

For Campbell, the result “has a there will be blood the mood – grappling with the difficulties of the time and place – and it’s shot with a sort of boxed aspect ratio that mimics the form of photography the priest does. It’s a visually impressive film that I think would really speak to Brit’s sensibilities. He loved Icelandic cinema.”

This is the trailer for Godland:
Click to get 45th Annual Denver Film Festival Ticket Details.