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Michael at Blissfest 2017MICHAEL BLISS, LEFT, WITH RALPH GIORDANO, Blissfest333 Program Director, at the 2017 opening reception. PHOTO BY LAURIE DUNKLEE.

By Laurie Dunklee

Michael Bliss finds his, well, bliss, by gathering people together to enjoy the arts. His Blissfest333, celebrating its fifth year in Denver, is an art and film festival with events in North Denver on Aug. 3, 25 and 26.

Blissfest333 features art exhibits and 30 films by independent filmmakers.

“It’s a festival about creativity and individuality,” Bliss said. “We are about the community and the arts.”

The free opening reception is Aug. 3, 6 p.m., at Tenn Street Coffee, 4418 Tennyson St. Featured will be photos by Scott Wilson and the Colorado Photography Learning Group, as well as an opportunity to meet the 2018 filmmakers.

Scott Wilson is a Scottish photographer living in Denver and a colon cancer survivor. During his 40-week chemotherapy treatment in 2016, he was told to avoid direct sunlight. The result is his “Through the Window,” a wildlife portfolio shot entirely from the shade of his car.

The Aug. 3 “block party” will continue at Future Drawn oneLINE Gallery, 4420 Tennyson St., with Jonathan Applegate and Ralph Giordano’s “The Body as Art: Inked... Skin Deep.”

The film festival, Aug. 25 and 26, includes 30 films by independent filmmakers from all over the world at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, 4255 W. Colfax Ave. This year’s featured filmmaker is Steven Sabell, who has written, produced, and directed over a dozen short films and one feature-length fan film, “Suicide Knights Saga: REAP” (2015). He received a Pikes Peak Arts Council Rising Star award (2017-18). Sabell is a Colorado Springs police officer.

Film festival tickets are $30 for one day and $50 for both days, available at filmfreeway.com/Blissfest333. A portion of ticket proceeds goes toward restoring the Historic Elitch Theatre and its children’s events and classes, including the Children’s Day International Film Festival at the Bug Theatre, 3654 Navajo St., Nov. 10 and 11. Elitch Theatre is currently closed for repairs because of wind damage.

Bliss started the festival in 1999 as a celebration of life for his friend Gary Pedon, who died of AIDS. Blissfest was held annually between 1999 and 2001 and then returned in 2013. Beginning in 2014, the festival was dubbed Blissfest333.

“The meaning of 333 is a union of mind, body and spirit. It signifies truth and that we are all one,” Bliss said.

Other 2018 Blissfest333 events include a televised open mic every third Friday at Denver Open Media, 700 Kalamath St.; and a day of workshops, panels, art and live music on Sept. 8 at the 1101 Event Center in Littleton.

For more information see Blissfest333.com.