People loved their baby.
After months of work, Jim Turner and Matt Stevens screened 80-plus movies last weekend at the first-ever Indie Spirit Film Festival ... and Colorado Springs responded. Stevens notes that on Sunday afternoon, for instance, The Bilbee Boys and 305 both attracted 150 ticket-holders to the Pikes Peak Center.
"We had no idea how many people would come," Stevens says, adding that filmmakers complimented them on attendance all weekend. "People from Broken Fences said that six people turned out for their film at the Memphis Film Fest, but we turned out 56."
Other film festivals, of course, have made a home in the Springs; this fall, the Rocky Mountain Women's Film Festival will celebrate its 21st year, and the Pikes Peak Lavender Film Festival its ninth. But in terms of size (three days, seven venues) and scope (anything Turner and Stevens thought was deserving), Indie Spirit made for the most ambitious entrance into the local scene. And both guys were putting on their first festival.
So that they could attract between 400 and 500 individuals and hear praise from many is noteworthy. It also helps fuel their drive to make this an annual event.
As the organizers chew on what worked and what didn't, here are some observations:
With film series showing at four venues simultaneously on Saturday, crowds splintered. For instance, that night at Edifice Gallery, only 15 watched the documentary Sink Faze. But the gallery proved a perfect venue: Edifice co-owner Richard Arnot accommodated the small crowd, offering snacks and providing comfy, red couches (and metal folding chairs).
A peek inside the Pikes Peak Center on Sunday night showed a couple dozen people watching both Kill Kill Faster Faster and Windcroft, two small, dark films. Interestingly, not a single viewer left during the man-on-man sex scenes in Kill Kill Faster Faster.
The festival wasn't without its hiccups. Poor Richard's was a bit cramped due to construction, and the Antlers Hilton was hosting two separate proms in adjoining rooms. Then there was The Hunt for the Texas 7 snafu, in which the movie skipped repeatedly during the showing. Stevens says only seven (appropriate, given the title) stayed long enough to finally see the disc play in a different DVD player.
Despite the setbacks, though, Stevens says an unexpected pride came from watching viewers and filmmakers interact. Eric Shiveley, creator of opening-night feature Everyone But You, gushed that he got compliments after the viewing from people "who aren't even weirdos."
Then there was the awards ceremony on Sunday night, during which Minotauro a story of maternal rejection and redemption was voted by audiences as best feature. The filmmakers stood up screaming, which seems to suggest they took the honor fairly seriously.
So what made Stevens most proud?
"That," he replies, "is like asking a parent what they're most proud of in a child."
Documentary: Vaccine Nation
Short: English Language
(with English Subtitles)
Student Film: First Memories
Native American: Standing Silent Nation
Horror: 13 Hours in a Warehouse
Foreign Language: Punch
Foreign-Produced: The Stone Angel
Directors' Choice: The Bilbee Boys