It's been a long time since Indie Spirit Film Festival organizers had to beg filmmakers to allow them to screen their films, let alone get them to come to Colorado Springs and take part. Now in its seventh year, the annual event has grown in size, scope and diversity, with three days of screenings, director Q&As, panel discussions, filmmaking workshops, receptions and parties.
This year's film subjects range from Olympic contenders to Himalayan hash, Serbian soldiers to German zombies. Essential 2014 offerings include:
The Moving Picture Co. 1914: An homage to the era of silent film by Simpsons director Mark Kirkland. (See "Sometimes words just get in the way.")
Rocks in My Pockets: In last month's article, "12 Foreign-Language Oscar Entries You Should Know," Variety praised this feature from Latvian filmmaker Signe Baumane as "a serious-minded animated movie hand-made by a female director about her family's history of mental illness." With a narrative and visual aesthetic that evokes the simplicity of Bill Plympton, the surrealism of Jan Švankmajer, and the wistful candor of Lynda Barry, Baumane's film — which plays in tandem with The Moving Picture Co. 1914 on Saturday night — promises to engage audiences regardless of its ultimate Oscar fate.
Sitting Bull's Voice: Ernie LaPointe was born on the Pine Ridge Reservation, site of the notorious Wounded Knee Massacre. As a disabled Vietnam veteran plagued by substance abuse problems, he went on a spiritual quest to understand the legacy of his great-grandfather Sitting Bull, the Lakota chief who defeated Custer at Little Bighorn. Director Bill Matson's documentary, the festival's opening-night film, uses LaPointe's discoveries as the basis for exploring this pivotal era in Native American history.