It's not an easy task to choose from among the 60 films in the Rocky Mountain Women's Film Festival, and that's by design.
"There are tough decisions to be made," said Linda B. Broker, the festival's longtime executive director. Attendees have five or more compelling films to pick from in each part of the day for the three-day festival. Last year's event drew 1,600 attendees.
The festival, now in its 30th year, celebrates films made by women, about women or that have a female writer, editor or producer.
It runs Friday through Sunday, screening at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College and elsewhere on the campus.
"It's an awesome thing we have here in Colorado Springs," Broker said. "The majority of attendees are women, but it's not an overwhelming majority. We don't program the festival for a female audience. We program based on film quality and a diversity of voices and topics."
The feature and animated films, documentaries and narrative shorts vary in length from 10 minutes to two hours. Of the 60 offerings, 46 are new and 14 are "best of the fest" selections shown at some point over the festival's three-decade run. The latter group was chosen because a filmmaker or editor who worked on them will be back to talk about them in a forum.
An opening-night gala and film showing kick off the festival Friday. Weekend activities include films, a selection of filmmakers' forums and a roundtable luncheon.
The film schedule is set up in blocks, so festival-goers can choose which film they want to see when.
"Folks don't have to come at 9 in the morning for the first block. They can come for the second block at 11 and can watch a great film at the FAC or see Youth Documentary Academy shorts or attend filmmaker panels over lunch," Broker said.
The festival committee reviewed hundreds of entries before selecting finalists.
"You start with so many films it can be overwhelming," Broker said. "As the process goes on and that number of films gets smaller and smaller, and you figure out what's going to be included, you look at whether there is a good balance between topics and tone."
"The Farthest" is a "super-sized" film, at 121 minutes, about the Voyager spacecraft launched in 1977, Broker said.
"I have little to no interest in space exploration, and I loved it," she said, noting that happens a lot at the festival. "You might think you're not going to be interested, and then a film captivates you."
There are also lighthearted films and stories about women breaking ground for the next generation, she said. "Girl Unbound" (80 minutes) is about a young Pakistani woman whose dream is to play squash, but as a woman in Pakistan she is forbidden. Her family allowed her to dress as a boy to play. She's now a professional squash player and a women's rights advocate.
If you can't attend the festival or miss the film you want to see most, don't fret. The Rocky Mountain Women's Film Festival will be adding most of the films to its library come January. For a suggested donation of $20, you can check out as many of its roughly 250 films on DVD as you wish.