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Finding indie film 

Motivated locals, touring fests make the city safe for quiet genius

The Springs has a robust community of film aficionados — and where audiences exist, good films are bound to appear. Sure, you can see the major studio releases at the megaplexes, but look a little further and you'll find films that venture beyond the tested Hollywood formulas.

Of course, there's Kimball's Peak Three Theater (kimballspeakthree.com), the downtown spot for ongoing independent and art-house fare, and on occasion an independent film or two plays at the chains. Chapel Hills 15 (chapelhillsmall.com/movies) is currently running a series of indie films, one each week, and Tinseltown and Cinemark 16 (cinemark.com) offer limited-release films as part of their CinéArts series.

Also, don't overlook the wonderful film screenings — there's something almost every week — from the Independent Film Society of Colorado (ifsoc.org), Colorado College (coloradocollege.edu), the Business of Art Center (thebac.org) and others.

Heroes among us

But when you need a big film fix, mark your calendar for a film fest.

The Indie Spirit Film Festival (April 23-25, indiespiritfilmfestival.org) is the ambitious young upstart among film festivals in the Pikes Peak area. Just three years old this year, the fest has quickly become the region's largest, averaging about 100 independent feature films and shorts from around the world.

The 2010 lineup, picked from more than 500 entries, promises a satisfying mix of dramas, comedies, documentaries, animation and experimental films (screening at Kimball's Peak Three), plus a slate of horror films sure to give audiences chills in the historic, and possibly haunted, Lon Chaney Theater.

When you're not watching movies at Indie Spirit, you can keep yourself entertained by meeting film directors, actors, movie distributors and other industry professionals at events like filmmaker forums, Q&A sessions, receptions, an awards night, and of course, parties, parties, parties.

The Colorado Short Circuit Invitational Film Series (May, and once each quarter, ifsoc.org) isn't a true film fest — so no parties, parties, parties — but it's still one of the city's must-see events for film lovers and film professionals. It's a quarterly series of free screenings of short films, including high-quality work from international and American filmmakers, and also from our own talented pool of local directors and promising student auteurs. If you're a filmmaker in Colorado, this is a great showcase to get involved with, and a fairly intimate place to interact with audiences in lively after-film discussions.

Lively after-film discussions surely will ensue at the Pikes Peak Lavender Film Festival (mid-September, pplff.org), which brings some great diversity to local movie-loving audiences with a weekend of some of the best up-and-coming LGBT works on the film fest circuit. While a handful of Lavender films feature characters who just happen to be lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, other films focus directly on LGBT issues and experiences. From happy-go-lucky comedies, stormy dramas and goofy musicals to mind-bending documentaries, the fest always covers a lot of ground.

As does the Rocky Mountain Women's Film Festival (early November, rmwfilmfest.org), which is distinguished by its impressive history of showcasing deserving films and filmmakers. When fall rolls around, the event will celebrate its 22nd year of shining the spotlight on quality work done by women.

And though the spots behind the cameras are reserved for females, don't be fooled into thinking this is a weekend of chick flicks. Just look at this year's Oscar wins in Best Director and Best Picture; Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker is an intense journey into the world of an Army bomb squad immersed in the Iraq war.

Speaking of award winners, you can get a taste of Oscar-winning women's filmmaking at the festival's "Night With Oscar," at Stargazers Theatre on April 17. Also, be aware if you still need more, you can drop by the RMWFF offices (421 S. Tejon St., #333, 226-0450) to borrow films from previous fests for free.

Visiting visionaries

There are smaller fests, too, that you'll want to keep watch for. The Banff Mountain Film Festival (banffcentre.ca) is a touring fest that drops into town in late winter or early spring, bringing films about mountain culture and environments, as well as "radical reels" about extreme mountain sports. Each fall, look for the return of the Reel Rock Film Tour (reelrocktour.com), another fest for outdoorsy types, this one billing itself as an "international climbing celebration."

To challenge your mind, check out TIE: The International Experimental Cinema Exposition (experimentalcinema.com), a tour of experimental works from an organization that for a time was based in Colorado Springs.

Then there are locally based fests, like the Windrider Film Forum (windridercolorado.com), which comes to Colorado College each summer with films that explore the human condition and maybe even inspire audiences to make a difference. And one we'll be watching for in 2010 is the Intersections Film Festival (uccs.edu), which debuted this past October at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs with several films from the Middle East about the lives of women.

To find details on these and other film events, pick up the Independent or visit csindy.com, where you can find movie news and reviews, plus a searchable database of movie times and listings that's updated daily.

jill@csindy.com

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