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Rocky Mountain Women's Film Fest marks 25 years
When: Various times Friday-Sunday
Screening locations: Fine Arts Center, 30 W. Dale St.; Armstrong Hall, Colorado College, 14 E. Cache La Poudre St.; and Edith Kinney Gaylord Cornerstone Arts Center, Colorado College, 825 N. Cascade Ave.
Tickets: $40 Saturday, $35 Sunday, the Friday gala and screenings are sold out, rush tickets maybe be available 10 minutes before start time; 226-0450, rmwfilmfest.org for a complete schedule
Every year the board and volunteers of the Rocky Mountain Women’s Film Festival screen film after film trying to put together a compelling lineup of documentaries, features, shorts and animations.
This year was a bit more challenging. Not because the festival has reached its 25-year milestone, further securing its position as the longest continuously running women’s film festival in North America. No, this year one of the submissions was the work of Donna Guthrie, a founder of the festival.
“How do you tell the founder you aren’t going to show her film?” says Linda Broker, the festival’s executive director.
Luckily, Broker did not have to reject “The Wedding Gown Project,” which will be featured on Friday in this year’s three-day festival.
“It wasn’t without some apprehension that I previewed the film,” says Broker, who not only knew the filmmaker but all of the women interviewed in it. “But we offered no preferential treatment.”
The documentary, which she made in 2011, features Springs women sharing memories about their wedding dresses. She was inspired after going through a photo album and catching sight of herself in what she describes as her very 1970s gown. She started talking to friends about their wedding dresses.
“How much energy we put into a dress we wear for four hours,” says Guthrie, who has been married for almost 39 years. “It’s one of the few dresses we keep.”
The film is Guthrie’s first entry into the festival she helped start 25 years ago.
“It might be my last,” she jokes as she explains the challenge of condensing more than four hours of interviews into an eight-minute film.
“This is a full-circle moment,” says festival co-founder Jere Martin, who narrates Guthrie’s film. The two met at a political event more than 30 years ago and with children the same age, they became friends.
The idea for the festival was born as the women drove home from their first film festival at Telluride in 1986. Talking about one film that moved them, they agreed that they would never have the opportunity to see such a film in Colorado Springs.
“Both of us have a strong belief in trying something out,” says Martin. “We love working together.”
Martin moved to Santa Fe, N.M., eight years ago, but still attends the festival nearly every year: in 25 years she’s only missed two. Her involvement as an organizer has waned, but she still suggests films for the festival. This year she’s deliberately skipped screening some films.
“It’s a gift to sit in the audience with friends and experience the film that way,” Martin says.
In spite of its longevity, it’s still a challenge to help people past their misconceptions about the festival, says Broker, who became executive director of the festival in 2000. She says people don’t know what it is. She has even been asked if it’s a health fair.
“I maintain that our festival is more well known and regarded within the women filmmakers community than it is within the Pikes Peak community.”
Brokeralso sees the screening of Guthrie’s film as full circle. She points out that Guthrie’s film was edited by Erin Hudson, who earned her undergraduate degree from Colorado College and had films featured in previous festivals.
The screening of “The Wedding Gown Project” is also sponsored by a group of past festival filmmakers. Broker said one filmmaker sent a message to others asking for support for the festival’s founder.
“For us to get endorsement from filmmakers past," she says, "it’s really wonderful.”