Donna Guthrie and I were driving home from our first Telluride Film Festival on a cool fall day, high on the experience we had just had. Telluride, before Sundance, specialized in independent and diverse films; we had seen short and full-length documentaries and fiction, made by women of all ages and ethnic backgrounds, exploring a range of subjects both quirky and deep. We excitedly talked about what we had seen and how eager we were to recommend these films to the rest of our community. The sad truth, we knew. Was that most of our friends wouldn’t have the opportunity to see these films because they simply wouldn’t come anywhere near Colorado Springs; this was back when there was only one tiny, folding chair, art cinema at Poor Richards.
Perhaps fueled by the wide expanse of the mountain range in front of us and all the grand possibility it created, we decided we would try to put on a film festival (never mind that neither of us had experience making films or soliciting them.) We saw a need and without letting the self-doubt in, we ran with it.
We knew we wanted our film festival to be centered on women’s stories; whether it was a film about a woman or a film by a woman with a great passion for some subject. With that in mind, we started soliciting funds. We got Penrose Hospital involved through their Women’s Center, the Junior League and at the very last minute, the Women’s Foundation.
We also created an organizing committee – something we actually had a lot of experience with as community activists – that met at the Junior League office and sometimes, on our own living room couches. The core group of organizers, at that time consisted of Donna, myself, Beth Bryer as representative of Junior League, and Chris Freeman, the head of the Women’s Center at Penrose. Each of us, of course, talked this project up among our friends and coworkers and soon Summer Kircher, Liz Youngquist, Leslie Bent and Rebecca Bauder were on board too.
We were a practical bunch from the start. Our approach was to get the word out about what we were trying to do and make the passion and excitement we felt contagious. It worked! I negotiated a deal with the Fine Arts Center to pay just a portion of whatever we took for rental, thereby hopefully nurturing an event that would be with them a long time. We picked films, flew in some directors (some on our own mileage points) and put them up in our own homes throughout the festival. We talked Dottie Lamm, a social worker and champion of women’s issues, then wife of our Governor Dick Lamm, to give an opening address. And we put on a film festival.
Excerpted from Rocky Mountain Women’s Film Festival: A Legacy Statement by Jere E. Martin, Generously Submitted by the Rocky Mountain Women’s Film Festival