The heart and soul of Denver’s film culture

Denver Film, Sie FilmCenter working to get audiences back to the movies


The setting for one of Kelsey Holmes’ earliest memories is a movie theater. When she was a toddler, she went to see the 1994 Walt Disney film, “The Lion King,” with her sister and her mom.

This launched a love of film that has lasted Holmes’ entire life, and now, as an adult, the Capitol Hill resident serves as the membership coordinator for Denver Film.

Based out of the Sie FilmCenter, 2510 E. Colfax Ave., Holmes loves her job, and one reason is she gets to talk about films with people every day.

“That is such a gift to me,” Holmes said. “I am at the center of such a vibrant and knowledgeable (film) community, and it truly is a pleasure.”

Denver Film is a nonprofit organization that got its start in 1978. It is known for its unique programming such as the award-winning Denver Film Festival and the Film on the Rocks series. The Sie FilmCenter is the arthouse theater and permanent home of Denver Film.

“As Colorado’s only nonprofit film organization, we are individuals who curate these films personally — not by robot and not by committee like the corporate chains trying to get your attention — to give you a great film experience, not to just grab your dough,” said Keith Garcia, artistic director for the Sie FilmCenter.

The Sie FilmCenter specializes in showing new, independent films and beloved retro films. For the former, these are often films people can’t see elsewhere. The latter provides people with the opportunity to see a film that is perhaps nostalgic, or perhaps it was released before they were born so they didn’t have the chance to see it on the big screen, Holmes said.

“It’s really the trust that we build with our audience,” Garcia said. “Sometimes we’ll have a soldout show of a great classic that only one-third of the crowd had seen (before), but they know we won’t steer them wrong or waste their time. We take them someplace new, and sometimes, we take them where they want to go. It’s a great relationship.”

Holmes believes it’s also the members that make Denver Film and the Sie FilmCenter so special.

“Our members are so passionate about film and add so much value to this organization,” Holmes said. “They are our most loyal patrons, and even though they are small transactions, their ticket purchases go a long way in supporting us.”

Denver Film has about 1,200 current active members, but that number does not include people whose membership expired during the pandemic and have not yet renewed, Holmes said.

“We are hoping to re-engage with that subset because we would love to see them back at the Sie FilmCenter,” Holmes said.

That’s one reason that Michael Nordine, who first became a member in 2019, recently renewed a membership.

“I’m originally from Los Angeles, which has a vibrant film community, so when I moved to Denver, I hoped to replicate that experience as closely as possible,” Nordine said. “Denver Film is the heart and soul of the city’s movie culture, and I wanted to be part of it.”

Likewise, Gennaro Leo became a member earlier this year with the thought that it is a great way to meet new people who also have a passion for film.

“It’s very difficult in life to find passionate fans of film, especially not knowing anyone in a new town. So to have stumbled upon Denver Film and the community, I am very, very grateful,” Leo said. “If you are looking to be part of a film community in Denver — one that embraces all forms of creativity and creators — the Sie FilmCenter is the place to dedicate your time and energy.”

Members get a lot of perks — discounted movie tickets, concessions and festival passes; member e-newsletter; exclusive free member screenings outside of scheduled programming; and much more — but Holmes says that members enjoy the sense of belonging the most.

“It’s a tightknit group,” she said. Members “are part of a group of people who are just as passionate about film as they are.”

Holmes added that it’s not uncommon for members to know the Sie FilmCenter’s bartenders and the people working the box office by name — and vice versa.

Additionally, the Sie FilmCenter is part of a cultural complex right off Colfax where one can experience literature, music and movies all in a single hub — Twist & Shout Records and the Tattered Cover Book Store, both being local-to-Colorado businesses, are just steps away from the Sie FilmCenter.

“People enjoy the sense of community when they step through the doors,” she said of the Sie FilmCenter. “And there’s something about that exclusive feeling from getting to spend time in a place that’s a hidden gem.”

Denver Film, Sie FilmCenter, Colfax


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