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This weekend, thousands of film aficionados will gather in Colorado Springs for the 28th annual Rocky Mountain Women’s Film Festival. The festival, which celebrates women and their achievements, will showcase more than 40 films ranging from independent shorts to critically acclaimed features and documentaries. The chosen flicks (narrowed down from more than 300 submissions by a group of steadfast volunteers) are either filmed by women or centered on a feminine perspective.
Jere Martin and Donna Guthrie, both native to the Springs, founded the event in 1987 to highlight women’s limited opportunities. According to Linda Broker, executive director since 2001, not much has changed in 28 years. “Women are still grossly underrepresented in every area,” Broker says. “Showing the world through the eyes of women has a different vibe to it, and can have a tremendous impact on all of us, both men and women. It’s important that their work is seen.”
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Here are five films to seek out during this weekend’s film festival.
Sherpa | Backed by cinematographer and Boulder native Renan Ozturk, this powerful film transports viewers to the breathtaking terrain of Nepal. For decades, Westerners hoping to summit the legendary Everest have heavily relied on the local Sherpa people, elite Nepalese mountaineers. Director Jennifer Peedom set out to film the climbing season from the perspective of these local workers, but instead captured a startling tragedy when an avalanche struck. This unforgettable film showcases the resilience of human spirit in overcoming hardship. Saturday, November 14, 8:20 to 10 p.m.; Edith Kinney Gaylord Cornerstone Arts Center, 825 N. Cascade Ave., Colorado Springs
Oyler: One School, One Year | Directed by Amy Scott, a Colorado Springs native who will also be in attendance, this film follows the dramatic year of one of Cincinnati’s poorest performing public schools. The story revolves around the transformative year of both the school’s principal, Craig Hockenberry, who has to prove he can raise students’ test scores, and senior Raven Gibben, who aims to be the first in her family to graduate from high school. Saturday, November 14, 11:00 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.; The Screening Room in the Edith Kinney Gaylord Cornerstone Arts Center; and Sunday, November 15, 11:10 a.m. to 12:50 p.m.; Edith Kinney Gaylord Cornerstone Arts Center
How to Dance in Ohio | Created by Alexandra Shiva, this touching film follows three autistic teenage women as they learn social skills, coping mechanisms, and how to relate to each other at a high school in Columbus, Ohio. Working with a trusted psychologist in group therapy sessions, they deconstruct their social anxieties one step at a time, picking dresses, dates, and ultimately a king and a queen for the spring formal dance—a quintessential coming-of-age moment. Funny and heartwarming, this story celebrates the power of human connection and prompts viewers to rethink the definition of “normal.” Saturday, November 14, 9 a.m. to 10:45 a.m.; The Screening Room; and Saturday, November 14, 11 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.; Kathryn Mohrman Theatre in Armstrong Hall, 14 E. Cache La Poudre St.
3 ½ Minutes, 10 Bullets | On November 23, 2012, 10 shots rang through the streets of Jacksonville, Florida, and when the smoke cleared, a teenage boy lay dead. This film, created by Marc Silver and Minette Nelson, follows the aftermath of the shooting of 17-year-old Jordan Davis by 47-year-old Michael Dunn, racial prejudice, and the shortcomings of the American criminal justice system. Prepare for a heart-wrenching look at Dunn’s trial and its effect on Davis’s family and friends. Saturday, November 14, 2:15 to 4 p.m.; Cornerstone Arts Center, Richard F. Celeste Theater
How I Got Over | Fifteen formerly homeless women team up to craft an original play based on stories from their own lives to be performed for one-night-only at the Kennedy Center in D.C. The documentary, directed by Nicole Boxer, follows the women of N Street Village, an addiction recovery community in Northwest D.C., as they discover their artistic talents and wrestle to overcome the past. The effect is illuminating and transformative. Saturday, November 14, 11 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.; Fine Arts Center, 30 West Dale St.
In addition to the films screened during the weekend, there will be free screenings in the days leading up to the festival. Visit rmfinstitute.org for details.