Local film community stays connected, inspired through pandemic

By Jonathan Toman, Cultural Office As the pandemic deepened, film was one of the quickest industries to shut down and last to open up, as big-budget Hollywood movies were postponed or not released in theaters.…

By Jonathan Toman, Cultural Office

As the pandemic deepened, film was one of the quickest industries to shut down and last to open up, as big-budget Hollywood movies were postponed or not released in theaters.

Local filmmakers and film organizations were also affected, but they still found ways to create and connect with one another.

“People still made films,” says Ralph Giordano, Festival Director for the Independent Film Society of Colorado, which makes its home at Cottonwood Center for the Arts in downtown Colorado Springs. “You can’t kill art. A pandemic can’t kill art.”

Short films became the order of the day, as many instituted COVID protocols that would later be replicated on larger sets, Giordano says. Because they couldn’t meet in person, online sharing of content grew, in part to show each other and viewers that films were still being made. IFSOC connected with filmmakers in Denver, Pueblo, Grand Junction, and beyond. At the Colorado Short Circuit Film Festival, presented virtually in March by IFSOC, there was an entire category dedicated to pandemic films.

“People couldn’t wait to make films, everybody kept going,” says Giordano. “I’d say it was more of pause, to see ‘where are we’ – and then people started to figure out a workaround.”

The Peak Film Forum, the networking and professional development arm of IFSOC, had its first in-person gathering in July. It was standing room only, according to Giordano.

“It was nice to see,” he said. “It was actually very emotional to see all these people you’d just been communicating with on the phone or over text.”

Films of all types and lengths are returning, and in the meantime, adaptation, risk assessment, and instituting policies like rapid testing may all be worked into film production.

“Those are things that at least for next year moving forward we have to account for,” says Giordano.

Visit to learn more about the Independent Film Society of Colorado.

International Indie Spirit Film Festival returns, virtually, Oct. 1-8
Narrative shorts, documentary shorts, feature documentaries, and more will be part of this virtual festival presented by IFSOC at the beginning of Arts Month.

“It’s an international festival, so there’s films from all over the world, but I was surprised by how many Colorado films there are, which is exciting and great,” says Giordano.

About 90 films will be available to attendees. In addition to strong documentary categories, the young filmmaker category will feature some of the work of the local Youth Documentary Academy – specifically “Our Time,” part of a YDA partnership with Rocky Mountain PBS.

This will be the eighth edition of the festival, and the first since 2014. Visit for more details and to purchase tickets.

‘Three Nights of Horror’ planned for Oct. 22-24
IFSOC is scheduled to host the sixth annual “Three Nights of Horror” event in person at Cottonwood Center for the Arts Oct. 22-24.

Around 20 films will be presented over the three days, and in contrast to the Indie Spirit Film Festival will not be able to have a virtual component, due to the licensing required for the popular Hollywood films that are shown.

“We’re going ahead like we are doing it and then we’ll wait and see,” says Giordano. “We’re looking forward and saying ‘you know what, we’ll figure it out,’ and being as positive as we possibly can.”

Rocky Mountain Women’s Film Festival returns to in-person event
After going virtual for the 2020 version of this annual event, the Rocky Mountain Women’s Film Festival will be hybrid in November, with an in-person presentation November 12-14 and a virtual encore November 18-21.

Approximately 35 films will be presented at three venues inside or near the Pikes Peak Center in downtown Colorado Springs – the Great Hall, Studio Bee, and the adjacent building, Centennial Hall.

The longest-running women’s film festival in North America showcases documentary, narrative, shorts, and animated films.

Visit for more details and ticket information.


NOTE: This article was originally published in the 2021 Cultural Office Guide to Arts Month, crafted in partnership with the Colorado Springs Gazette and published as an insert in the paper on Oct. 3, 2021. See the digital copy in its entirety at