Red Rocks at sunrise

Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison is operated by the city of Denver.

The 43rd Denver Film Festival is kicking off Thursday night with a drive-in red carpet premiere of the film “Nomadland” at Red Rocks Amphitheatre.

Thursday will begin 18 days of mostly virtual celebration. Nearly 200 films will be screened on Denver Film’s virtual platform as part of the festival, including short films, student films and music videos.

Two other Red Rocks drive-in screenings will be held with “Nine Days” on Saturday and “Ammonite” on Oct. 29. All screenings begin at 7 p.m.

Screenings will be held in Red Rocks' Lower South Lot 2 parking area, which can hold up to 300 cars.

“I can’t think of a better, more appropriate way to experience all three of these films -- and ‘Nomadland’ in particular -- than in your car, surrounded by beautiful western vistas,” said festival director Britta Erickson.

“Nomadland” will receive the Denver Film Festival’s Rare Pearl Award, awarded to the film with the year’s finest beauty and uniqueness. The award will be accepted by director Chloé Zhao in a video presentation before the screening.

“Nomadland” tells the story of a woman leaving her economically devastated rural town in Nevada for a life on the road as a modern-day nomad. This is Zhao’s third feature film.

Tickets, virtual passes and other packages are available for purchase at denverfilm.org/dff43.