"Storytelling is how a culture defines and reflects itself, but the power of story has gotten out of the hands of the common person," says Scott Randolph, a filmmaker with the Artspace 7 film collective. "That's changing. Digital technology can help empower and build community."
Community is at the heart of Return of the Storytellers, a festival of digital films presented by Artspace 7. Running through July, the event, which pairs professional filmmakers from the Denver area with amateurs, hobbyists and youth, will also christen the new Belmar development in Lakewood. "We're really trying to inspire people to engage film," says filmmaker Scott Slack. "The goal is to encourage people to make more media than they consume."
Return of the Storytellers is as much about interacting as it is about observing. Films from eleven local artists will screen on loops in seven spaces around the Belmar center. Low-cost classes on editing, writing, mixing and storytelling, among other topics, will also be offered to inspire attendees to make films of their own. During the second half of the festival, many of those works will be exhibited. Classes are open to everyone, especially young people. Films produced with students at North High School and Randolph Elementary are in the rotation; one workshop, "Toy Stories," teaches young people how to create animated film.
"Kids are living in a super-saturated media culture," Slack says. "It's critical that they have the ability to understand what they're watching. That understanding comes through education and hands-on experience of working with media. There are just so many advantages, from practical skills to self-empowerment to expression."
Denver, get ready for your close-up.