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35 Years of Film and the Feminine

Longest-Running Women’s Film Festival in North America Based in Colorado Springs

Article by Kristian DePue

Photography by Stellar Propeller Photography & Rocky Mountain Women's Film

Originally published in Colorado Springs Lifestyle

When asked about films that have left a lasting impression, Linda Broker speaks about The Rescue, a documentary that follows the Tham Luang subterranean rescue in 2018. “It’s about the rescue efforts to reach a Thai soccer team that got trapped in a cave in Thailand,” says Broker. “It was a huge news story, and the documentary follows the cave divers on this elaborate rescue. It’s a fabulous film.”

The Rescue was directed by Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and her husband, Jimmy Chin. The duo also directed the documentary, Free Solo—which won Best Documentary Feature at the 91st Academy Awards.

Broker is the executive director of Rocky Mountain Women’s Film, responsible for the long-running eponymous film festival. The institute was originally founded in 1987 by Jere E. Martin and Donna Guthrie, and its first festival was held in ’88. Each year, the festival showcases documentary features, shorts and narratives and women filmmakers.

Broker has been with the institute for 28 years. “I got involved in ’94,” Broker says. “For six years, I held a variety of volunteer spots until 2000, when I was hired as director.”

“I appreciate Linda’s steadfast belief in the power of women to tell the good and bad of life stories and her belief that film is the most powerful narrative form,” says Sally Sharpe, long-time supporter.

“Rocky Mountain Women’s Film expands my world, and is a jewel in Colorado Springs’ crown,” Sharpe continues. “I appreciate the depth and breadth of the film topics—and the ability to meet filmmakers to discuss their craft.”

Rocky Mountain Women’s Film elevates the stories of women and others who are often unheard or unseen. The 2022 Rocky Mountain Women’s Film Festival will occur the weekend of November 11th at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. “It's our 35th anniversary,” Broker says. "We’re the second longest running women's film festival in the world, and the longest in America.”

Beyond the curated festival, the institute hosts a number of events year-round, including Film in the Community, a drive-in cinema event, Film in the Park, rooftops viewings and Shorts Night—an annual fundraising evening consisting of decorated short films, held at Stargazers Theatre.

“Film in the Community offers one free screening a month,” Broker says. “Sometimes we host it at the Lincoln Center, but usually try to go to various locations.”

“They pick incredible films that create conversations, giving women's voices a chance to be heard," says Leah Fitzgerald Riehl, co-owner of Terra Verde Boutique, a sponsor.

“Every time I’ve watched one of their films, it has opened my eyes,” continues Riehl. “Film is a beautiful way to educate. You sit in a room of people all watching the same picture, and take away something different. Films are a lens into different perspectives.”

Emily Dean Kim—who sits on the institute’s board of directors as vice president—concurs with Sharpe, Riehl and Broker, summing up what the unique institute offers:

“Rocky Mountain Women’s Film is a cultural and intellectual gift to Colorado Springs, bringing global experiences and stories of engaging people and places to audiences that otherwise may not have access. November's festival is my favorite event. I'm proud to share our community with both filmmakers and the festival audience who travel to Colorado Springs to share in the experience of film.”

Facebook + Instagram: @rmwfilm