Linda Broker was immediately electrified by the Rocky Mountain Women’s Film Festival — a concept she’d never seen or even heard about — when she moved to Colorado Springs in 1993.
The event, celebrating its 35th anniversary this year, continues to be the longest-running women’s film event in the Western hemisphere, having survived on volunteers and the support of colleges and arts nonprofits. Broker became one of those volunteers about a year after first attending the festival.
For the last two decades, she’s been its executive director.
“Something that would have surprised me back then is how we’ve evolved into a year-round operation,” Broker said. “We’ve been careful about growing so we don’t lose the intimacy that’s made people love us.”
The annual event runs on the aforementioned volunteer love, but also the work of hundreds of international and local filmmakers, including all types of women (and also a few men). It’s not a huge festival, typically selling fewer than 2,000 individual tickets for its screenings on the Colorado College campus, having grown out of its first home at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center.
Broker is expecting an enthusiastic reception for this year’s festival, Nov. 11-13. It’s back in-person for the first time since the pandemic started, but will retain some of its popular online features, too. Before that arrives, she’s been letting people know about the anniversary with a string of summer events.
The latest is the Saturday, Aug. 13, showing of Cinema in the Park — a party in itself with picnicking, food trucks and live music starting at 6:30 p.m., followed by an 8:45 p.m. screening of “The Summer of Soul” documentary. It’s free (well, not the food trucks) and takes place at Monument Valley Triangle Park at 150 W. Cache La Poudre St. in Colorado Springs.
There, an outdoor screen will be set up to view acclaimed director and musician Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson’s story about the summer of 1969. There’s also the free drive-in screening of “Dear Mr. Brody” on Aug. 19, in the parking lot of the old Denver Gazette building, and a free “Shouting Fire” documentary screening at Sand Creek Library on Aug. 20. The Rascal Cinema (family friendly shorts) will follow at Colorado Springs’ Lincoln Center on Aug. 27, with Pop-Up Cinema at Colorado College on Sept. 1. See rmwfilm.org for more details, and to register for the free events.
Since 2012, the organization has also been holding a women’s filmmaking retreat, adding to film programming that fills gaps in other festivals, where women-focused movies tend to be siloed or underrepresented (if at all). Her year-round work includes regular presentation of award-winning shorts, and advocacy for women filmmakers.
“There are of course a lot of festivals bigger than ours,” Broker said, noting Denver Film Festival’s 10-day window. “They’re all great, but there’s a tendency for those to feel a little diffuse. Our footprint is small. You can walk from venue to venue, and people who come tend to return every year.”
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