30 Years On, Film Festival Remains Committed To Showcasing Voices And Stories Of Women

Nov 8, 2017


This weekend marks the 30th anniversary of the Rocky Mountain Women’s Film Festival in Colorado Springs. It’s the longest continuously running women’s film festival in North America. Between Friday night and Sunday, viewers can catch dozens of films at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center and in venues across the Colorado College campus.

Linda Broker, Executive Director of Rocky Mountain Women's Film Institute, which organizes the annual film festival.
Credit Courtesy of Rocky Mountain Women's Film Institute

In honor of the festival's 30th year, 91.5 KRCC spoke with Executive Director Linda Broker and Board President Hillary Hienton about the history of the event and the continued need to highlight the perspectives and stories of women. 

91.5 KRCC: When Jere Martin and Donna Guthrie created the Rocky Mountain Women's Film Festival Back in 1987, what was it that they were responding to, and what were they setting out to accomplish?

Linda Broker: I hesitate to speak for them but I do think that they were motivated to bring films to Colorado Springs that reflected the voices of women and that exposed the community to different ways of thinking and being.

"Any organization wants to solve its problems. So if our problem is elevating women's voices through film, then we want the industry to to do that on its own."

91.5 KRCC: The festival highlights dozens of films each year that are created by women, or in some sense reflect the experiences of women. Can you talk about the criteria for what types of films can be included as "women's films?"

Linda Broker: Well, we primarily show documentaries, and in order for a film to be considered, a women just has to have played a primary role -- director, producer, editor. If that's the case then the subject matter of the film can be about anything. If the film was made by a man, then the content of the film needs to reflect our mission statement, which is to celebrate the drive, spirit and diversity of women.

91.5 KRCC: Why do you think that mission is important?

Hillary Hienton: I think it's important to capture different perspectives, and to make sure that all voices are heard. If we look at the general reflection of women in film, it's quite limited. We provide this platform to celebrate that drive, spirit and diversity.

Hillary Hienton, Board President of Rocky Mountain Women's Film Institute.
Credit Courtesy of Rocky Mountain Women's Film Institute

  91.5 KRCC: Obviously, right now, the topic of women in film is on a lot of people's minds, given the revelations about Harvey Weinstein and many others in the film industry. How does that affect your sense of this year's film festival and of the continued importance of this festival?  

Linda Broker: I think it certainly validates the ongoing importance of women being heard. I think our programming is a little bit different, in that we do show primarily documentaries, and I don't know whether you throw documentaries on the sidelines of the Hollywood scene. That being said, I am sure that there are issues that cross over from Hollywood and that culture into the documentary realm as well.

Hillary Hienton: Yeah, I think the films that we show and the platform that we've created provides an insight into what women are doing, and what they can do in terms of film. And then, what we do with filmmakers -- which is a whole other program -- is provide a community and camaraderie and support that, from what I've heard from the filmmakers, they don't get anywhere else.

"That female lens on the world will always be unique and different than the other."

91.5 KRCC: The 30th anniversary is an opportunity to look back, but also to look forward. If you were to look out at the 60th Rocky Mountain Women's Film Festival, what do you hope will be different by that time? What do you hope might have changed in the industry by then? Do you hope that this film festival will still be going?

Hillary Hienton: In the big picture, any organization wants to solve its problems. So, if our problem is elevating women's voices through film, then we want the industry to to do that on its own, so the Film Festival would essentially be irrelevant. When I think about our community, and myself, and Colorado Springs, and people who enjoy film, I hope that it draws people from not only our region but also neighboring states and the entire United States, so it really becomes a premier event within Colorado Springs and people learn how incredible it is. 

Linda Broker: I agree. I would like to think that in another 30 years we're no longer fighting the battle of equity and parity, but I still think, even if that has been achieved on a global scale -- which would really be... 

Hillary Hienton: Mind blowing.

Linda Broker: ...fairly unbelievable. I don't think we're going to be able to take credit for that. I will say, there's still a place for this festival focusing only on films by and about women, because that perspective -- that female lens on the world -- will always be unique and different than the other. 

Editor's note: The Rocky Mountain Women's Film Festival is an underwriter of 91.5 KRCC, and Colorado College is the station’s licensee.