The 38th annual Denver Film Festival – featuring more than 250 films and representing 39 countries – had a theme of “come sit and be swept away.”

One of the festival’s last screenings was “Colorado Short Documentaries: Damaged,” a compilation of six shorts depicting people living on the fringes of society.

When viewed together, this film set can leave viewers with a feeling of respect and understanding for those outside the mainstream. I for one was swept away by the powerful stories contained in these films, stories I feel like much of the general public does not often get the chance to hear.

“Blue Streets”  features street musicians along the 9th Ward in New Orleans working hard to make it on Bourbon Street. The film gives glimpses into the lives of diverse musicians and the music, of course, is swingin’.

“The Neighbors Project” is a black and white film delving into the lives of men and women living on the streets of Denver. Intimate interviews painted a poignant portrait of the struggles – and grace – of day to day street survival.

“Copper” followed the lives of two men – one struggling with drug addiction, the other readily accepting it – who scavenge metal and other discarded/abandoned objects to make a life for themselves. Creative shot angles make you feel as if you are accompanying them on their scrapping excursions.

“From Australia With Lov3” delves into the creativity of artist Bode Klein. A former graffiti artist, Klein now uses both found and constructed objects to create surreal and fleeting art. His creations infuse both urban and natural landscapes with the message of Love. The film was eight minutes in length, but I felt the story could have been easily expanded into thirty minutes or more. Here’s to hoping this is part of a lengthier project.

“Overcoming Dyslexia” follows the story of a family where both the father and son face the same reading disorder. This nine minute long film was packed with emotion, two of the film subjects cry. Through focusing on a single family, the film seeks to draw generalities about all who struggle from dyslexia. I felt as though the film could have been more impactful if the film possessed stronger non-interview footage and other families who have members with Dyslexia. 

“Sideshow of the Absurd” displays the art and story of Pamela Joseph, an artist who found a creative gold mine in her childhood memories of attending the circus. Her art focuses in on 2oth century freak shows to uncover societal struggles of women and unleash her alter-ego. In the beginning of the film, the storyline was hard to follow and I was confused several times. The film ended nicely by tying everything together and showing the artist herself.

Learn more about the 38th annual Denver Film Festival – which ran November 4 to 15 – here.

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