“Go ahead, call them chick flicks. We dare you.” So reads the motto for the fifth annual Colorado Independent Women of Film Festival. For the June 12-13 event, founder and program director Eileen Agosta has curated more than twenty film and television projects by two dozen female filmmakers from across the state, all of which will screen in the intimate confines of Denver’s Bug Theatre.
“The female voice is sorely underrepresented in mainstream cinema,” says Agosta, who rocks a day job while devoting a second set of full-time hours to the festival as it approaches. “Women make up 50 percent of the population, but according to numbers compiled by indieWire.com, over the last five years less than 5 percent of feature films released by a major studio were directed by a woman.”
Agosta’s plan goal is to provide women with a platform for cinema exhibition as well as a time and place for networking, in the process helping bring new creative efforts to light. “Maybe ten years ago, people didn’t have the resources to make a film," she says. "You’d be amazed at how much good stuff I get that was made with an iPhone. The technological barriers are down. The new technology helps; as it changes and becomes more accessible, I see not only more new work, but different kinds of work from established filmmakers.”
The selections this year cover all subjects, styles and genres, from narrative features to animation, documentaries long and short, experimental work, web-based visual storytelling, and even two episodes of the new sci-fi TV series The Inner Dimension, produced and co-created by Denver ‘s Kasha Fauscett. “I’m so excited to see this on the big screen,” Agosta notes. “I’ve been tracking it through production.”
Other entries include producer Meryem Ersoz’s feature film Mind’s Eye, shorts such as Pamela Maass’s Real Funny and Lyndsey Lack’s Toilet Paper Romance, and Kristine Hipps’s new documentary about ate Denver poet Lenny Chernila, Lenny C Rocks the Mic.
Preconceptions about the capabilities and range of female filmmakers are slowly changing. “I found that one of the things people have, whether they realize it or not, is an idea of what a film by a female filmmaker should be – and it’s a more narrow range of films," says Agosta. "Every year, there’s at least one person who comes up to me and says that they didn’t expect to see such a variety of films."
Despite the work of such sterling directors as Claire Denis, Agnes Varda and Jane Campion, and up-and-comers like Ava Duvernay and Jill Soloway, statistics still show a massive resistance to opportunities for women behind the camera – and continued objectification in front of it. (Ironically, editing film in America is an exception – it was originally thought to be “women’s work.”) Producing quality content is the best way to catch Hollywood’s eye — if, indeed, that’s even the filmmaker’s intention.
Until the need to make the obvious point that women are good filmmakers, too, winks out of existence, festivals such as this will continue to provide an exciting, entertaining showcase – and a needed corrective to long-outmoded industry attitudes. The fifth annual Colorado Independent Women of Film Festival runs June 12-13 at the Bug Theatre, 3654 Navajo Street. For a complete schedule and ticket information, visit ciwfdenver.com or bugtheatre.org.