Colorado 2021 film festivals with virtual screening options

Most of us are used to the streaming gig by now: find something online, then figure out the best way to watch it.

If you’re still uncomfortable with that process, now’s the time to learn it. Waves of Colorado film festivals are headed for viewers in the next few weeks and months, and streaming is the only way to watch them.

Some, such as the Colorado Environmental Film Festival (through Feb. 21 at, are already here. Others, like Fort Collins’ ACT Human Rights Film Festival (March 19-27), are on the cusp of announcing their full lineups and ticketing details (see

Here’s a rundown of the virtual highlights, most of which can be viewed on web browsers, tablets and smartphones (via apps) or smart TVs via Roku, Chromecast, Apple TV and similar services. See each festival’s website for individual details.

Denver Jewish Film Festival

A virtual event that launched Feb. 8 and continues through Feb. 17, the Denver Jewish Film Festival this week announced a toothsome partnership in the form of “Dinner and a Movie,” with Middle Eastern restaurant Safta, that pairs nicely with its narrative features, documentaries and shorts about Jewish life and culture.

Even without a meal attached, the festival’s programming spans food (“Breaking Bread,” “Chewdaism: A Taste of Jewish Montreal”), social justice (“Shared Legacies,” “Healing from Hate,” “They Ain’t Ready for Me”), queer narratives (“Sublet,” “Army of Lovers”) and features (“God of the Piano,” “Shiva Baby”), according to festival director Amy Weiner Weiss. $12 per film.

Side Stories

Less a formal film-fest and more an outdoor-art celebration, Side Stories usually takes place in the River North Art District. This winter, organizers are returning with a “Greatest Hits” edition through the end of month at History Colorado Center, 1200 N. Broadway, in the Civic Center Cultural Complex.

The large-format outdoor installations, three- to seven-minutes each, will be screened on the exterior wall of the building facing Broadway thanks to a partnership with the Denver Theatre District. Films will play nightly from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. and each week features a different theme. Free and outdoors.

Durango Independent Film Festival

This southern Colorado destination also hosts a robust film festival, which has been programming for audiences and visitors since 2006. Now virtual for 2021, the festival returns March 3-12 with a slate of films yet-to-be-announced.

However, the festival has been teasing titles on its Instagram page, including “Take Out Girl,” “Bloom” and “Almost an Island.” Stay tuned for the full schedule and ticket prices.

Colorado Dragon Boat Film Festival

Without its parent event, the Colorado Dragon Boat Festival, this year’s focus is squarely on the organization’s modest but still-growing film showcase, presented in part with Denver Film, March 4-7. Asian and Asian-American directors, subjects and artists — usually in short supply anywhere in the U.S. — are the spotlight here, as they have been since the festival was founded in 2016.

Films include opening-night stunner, “Definition Please,” a thoughtful, refreshingly steady exploration of identity directed by Sujata Day (HBO’s “Insecure”) in her feature debut, plus titles sourced from a diversity of Asian countries (Japan, Taiwan, Bhutan, Phillipines) and here in the U.S. $15 per film; $65 for passes.


Typically held in Telluride, this outdoors-themed film festival garnered about 9,000 online attendees last year, organizers said. Tickets for this year’s event, May 31-June 6, are available at early-bird rates until March 15, at $15 per screening or with full-festival passes available for $100 and $200, depending on perks (they go up $50 after March 15).

“Mountainfilm also hopes to offer a few extremely limited outdoor screenings in Telluride over Memorial Day weekend — May 28-31 — dependent on the state of the virus come May,” organizers wrote online. “For now, the 2021 Mountainfilm Online festival will be broadcast to living rooms around the world.”

Aspen Shortsfest

Year two of the virtual Aspen Shortsfest will likely find programmers more or less adapted to the challenging film environment, given last year’s nimble response. The event, a qualifier for the Academy Awards, is one of the world’s most prestigious short-film festivals and typically draws top-notch titles and talent. Last year it launched Oscar-nominated shorts such as “Daughter,” “Sister” and “Brotherhood” (notice a theme?).

This year’s April 6-11 incarnation is still very much being programmed, given that filmmakers won’t even be told if they made the cut until Feb. 28 (the late deadline for submissions was Dec. 2). Stay tuned for the schedule and ticket prices.

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