Just what happens when a person is denied sleep?
After a restless night of bad dreams, New York filmmaker Lucille Hansen was inspired.
"I was being chased by a shadow figure, and I couldn't sleep," she said. "When I closed my eyes, the figure was there, too. I became really intrigued by the idea of not being able to sleep. If sleep was critical to a human's existence, could we survive without it?"
She researched insomnia, and found Fatal Familial Insomnia, a genetic disease. It became the basis of her first film, a 20-minute psychological thriller called "Awake." It will be shown at the 6th Annual Indie Spirit Film Festival on Saturday. The festival starts Thursday and runs through Sunday at varying locations.
This year's festival includes 90 short and feature-length films from around the world in genres including documentary, animated and narrative. Filmmaker panels and question-and-answer discussions will round out the weekend.
About 600 films were submitted for admission into this year's festival, said Jim Turner, director of the festival. Twenty people reviewed the films, and at least four people watched each one and rated it. Films with the highest ratings were admitted.
"We see trends every year," Turner said. "It was unusual this year - political oppression in Argentina in the 1970s, of all the strange things."
Opening the festival on Thursday is the full-length documentary, "Blackfish," about Tilikum, the orca whale who killed trainer Dawn Brancheau at SeaWorld in 2010.
"We're happy to get it," Turner said. "This played at (this year's) Sundance Film Festival, and there was so much buzz about it."
6th Annual Indie Spirit Film Festival
When: Opens with reception at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, films run through Sunday
Where: Opening reception at The Mining Exchange - A Wyndham Grand Hotel, 8 S. Nevada Ave.; films at the City Auditorium, 221 E. Kiowa St.; Cottonwood Center for the Arts, 427 E. Colorado Ave.; Ivywild School, 1604 S. Cascade Ave.; and Springs Orleans, 123 E. Pikes Peak Ave.
Tickets: $25 opening night, $10 single ticket (must be purchased at the door), $45 for five films, $60-$125 passes; 502-7057, indiespiritfilmfestival.org
Contact Jennifer Mulson at 636-0270.