Boulder movies: More than just the cineplex

Settling into your couch for a flick is fine. But there’s nothing like sitting in the dark with a couple dozen strangers and watching a good movie on the big screen.

The University of Colorado offers avid moviegoers two great options: Program Council’s Chem 140 Friday night series and the International Film Series screenings in Muenzinger Auditorium.

The Chem 140 series takes place Friday evenings in a large classroom in the Chemistry Building near the University Memorial Center. All Chem 140 flicks are free to CU students.

“Generally, we show stuff that was recently in theaters; oftentimes before it hits DVD,” said Program Council marketing director Seamus James.

Chem 140 can seat as many as 500 people. But James points out that just because it’s a school lecture hall doesn’t mean the quality stinks.

“We use a real film projector,” he said. “It’s a full-size theater with legitimate sound. So it’s not like you’re sitting in a classroom watching a movie.”

The Friday night flicks at Chem 140 can sell out, or draw a couple dozen people, James said. It just depends on the movie. The most popular, he added, tend to be the sneak previews, screenings of movies that have yet to be released to area cinemas.

“We’re in the top 25 markets, so if it’s a big release, oftentimes they’ll want to show it to CU students to see what people think,” James said.

A few hundred yards away from Chem 140, in Muenzinger Auditorium, the International Film Series presents several films nearly every week during the fall and spring semesters.

The types of films at IFS, which is part of the university’s Film Studies Program, are wide ranging, and come from all over the world.

Last spring, for example, IFS featured “Tyson,” a film about famed boxer Mike Tyson; “12 Monkeys,” the sci-fi thriller by Terry Gilliam; “Times and Winds,” a coming-of-age story from Turkey; and “TimeCrimes,” a Spanish sci-fi movie — all within a seven-day period.

You can also encounter filmmakers at IFS special events. This fall, Cory McAbee, director of “American Astronaut,” which earned Official Selection notice at Sundance, will appear when IFS screens his latest movie “Stingray Sam.”

IFS director Pablo Kjolseth said he’s talking with Scott Moore, who wrote “The Hangover,” the popular summer comedy, about returning to Boulder when IFS shows the movie in Muenzinger this fall.

“He attended CU and has fond memories of both his film classes and faculty here,” Kjolseth said.

Also on the fall schedule is a screening of a 35mm print of “The Legend of Alferd Packer.” Kjolseth said the film’s producer, Mark Webb, recently donated the print to the CU archives.

The 1980 film is based on the legend of true-life character Packer, a prospector who was accused of cannibalism in Colorado in 1874. CU’s Alferd Packer Grill, in the UMC, is named in the notorious prospector’s honor.

IFS also hosts First Person Cinema several times each semester. Started in 1955, it’s believed to be the world’s longest-running avante garde film series.

Elsewhere, the Boulder Theater morphs from concert venue to movie house occasionally to screen cult favorites and unique films.

The world premiere screening of “IN DEEP: the skiing experience,” (Sept. 19) is a year’s worth of footage that chronicles the sport of skiing. It also includes segments featuring skier Shane McConkey, who died in a base-jumping accident in March.

The Boulder Public Library hosts a weekly film program that is free to the public. The movies are shown in the library’s main branch auditorium.

Titles scheduled at BPL’s Film Program this fall include “Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison” (Sept. 10), “Party Girl” (Sept. 17) and a screening of short films about Boulder (Sept. 25).

Here’s a sampling of where to catch movies in Boulder:

CU’s Chem 140

Friday night series through the fall semester, free to CU students,

International Film Series

Weekly film series held in Muenzinger Auditorium on the CU campus, 303-492-1531,

Boulder Public Library

1000 Canyon Blvd., Boulder, 303-441-3197,

Boulder Theater

2032 14th St., Boulder, 303-786-7030,

Present Tense Films

Nomad Theatre, 1410 Quince St., Boulder,


AMC Flatiron Crossing 14: 61 W. Flatiron Circle, Broomfield, 888-262-4386

Century Boulder: 1700 29th St., Boulder, 800-326-3264

Colony Square 12: 1164 Dillon Rd., Louisville, 303-666-9035

United Artists Twin Peaks 10: 1250 S. Hover St., Longmont, 303-651-2855

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