International Film Series prepares a program of kung fu and musicals

Musicals, hormones and more abound at International Film Series

Nadia Mishkin | Boulder Weekly


I have always thought of the movie theater as my church,” says Pablo Kjolseth, executive director of the International Film Series (IFS). “It has a meditative quality. To be able to actually sit down in a dark theater where you can’t have all of your electronics and stuff, it fractures your psyche. We want to provide a sacred space where you can concentrate and be swept away.”


The IFS is Boulder’s oldest art house movie series, offering cinema devotees independent, foreign and classic films.

“We exhibit [archival] and rare prints from private collections where the actual quality of these films is unparalleled to other digital reproductions,” Kjolseth says.

However, the International Film Series wants to provide viewers with more than just carefully selected and sought-after films. At the IFS the focus is always on the film itself. The screenings never show ads, there are no concessions for profit, and the ushers police the area, discouraging the use of cell phones and other distractions.

“I want the IFS to represent the legacy of cinema, past and present,” Kjolseth says. The IFS was established in Boulder in 1941, and film screenings are held on the University of Colorado Boulder campus in Muenzinger Auditorium and in the Visual Arts Complex. Starting Feb. 4 and running through April, the IFS will screen more than 100 films, from debut premieres to restored classics, including West Side Story and Dirty Dancing. This spring, the film series will feature documentaries on Tuesdays, and switch off between romantic musicals and “libidinal madness” — which Kjolseth defines as “serious dramas with very hormonal passions” — on Wednesdays. They will alternate between the colorful spectacle of kung fu films and the aesthetic counterpoint of black-and-white film-noir screenings on Thursdays.

“All of the kung fu movies are from a private collector who rescued the prints.” Kjolseth explains.

“With film noirs you get beautiful black-and-white cinematography, which is the quality that is the hardest for new digital projection to replicate. That’s where the film format still really shines, in black and white.”

Throughout the festival, weekends will be reserved for special events, Boulder premieres and films by popular demand.

The last three weekends in February, the IFS will screen the short films nominated for Oscars in 2014, showing each short in the live action, animation and documentary category.

Fans of the Beatles are also in luck, as a whole weekend in April will be dedicated to films about the band. The series will include producer and composer Scott Freiman presenting an in-depth look at the album Revolver, the song “Strawberry Fields Forever” and some of the Beatles’ most memorable achievements. Beatles scholar and author of three books on the band, Ken Womak, will screen a Beatles film of his choice and speak afterwards.

The film series will be hosting several visiting filmmakers to present at the screenings, and Kjolseth recommends his personal favorite, Blast of Silence, on April 17.

“An absolute powerhouse of a film, shot on the streets of NYC on 16 mm cameras. To be able to see it on 35 mm film is going to be incredible; I’ve never seen it on that format,” he says. “Also, A Field in England is great. A nutty film, probably the only time I have been able to describe a film as psychedelic black-and-white.”

A Field in England will screen on Friday, April 18, and Saturday, April 19.

All films will be shown in the Muenzinger Auditorium on the CU campus except for films shown in partnership with Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, which will be shown on Thursdays in the Visual Arts Complex basement auditorium, also on campus. Tickets go on sale 30 minutes before the show, and general admission is $7. Admission for CU students and senior citizens is $6. For more information, visit or call the IFS office at 303-492-1531.