November 2009

In 2005, the Rocky Mountain Women’s Film Festival, the longest running women’s film festival in the world, was a transforming experience for me as a filmmaker. I was humbled to have The Triumvirate included in the schedule of high quality films and to be able to spend four days getting to know some incredibly talented filmmakers as one of the invitees. So when the 2009 Festival invited For the Life of Me, choosing RMWFF as the venue to premiere the film was a no-brainer. The women running the festival are simply incredible, and respect filmmakers in a way that few festival programmers do. Being selected as a two-time attendee was an honor – and the festival exceeded all my expectations.

The premiere audience was fantastic – and an engaging Q&A followed the screening. Joining me on the stage were Rich Uhrlaub and Jeffrey Hannasch, two men who are transforming the way adoptee records are handled in Colorado. It meant so much to have them there – and to have my festival sponsor, Anne Blair, travel all the way from Puget Sound to attend the screening with her sisters.

Thirteen filmmakers representing ten films were invited to attend this year’s festival. We bonded as we were pampered at the elegant St. Mary’s Inn for four days. There is no other festival I know of which provides such a nurturing and productive environment for filmmakers, with its non-competitive, collabortive, supportive schedule. In addition to the festival, For the Life of Me was seen at a community screening at the University of Colorado and at a local alternative high school. Its impossible to quantify the impact these events had on audiences and upon us as filmmakers. Almost every filmmaker in attendance had dedicated years to making their films, many mortgaging their homes, and even risking their lives, to tell stories about issues that captured their hearts from around the world. Films covered everything from the ongoing environmental disaster in the Niger Delta, the amazing community of health workers surviving on the Burma border, the injustice of domestic abuse seen through the eyes of women serving life sentences in prison for killing their abusers, to the trial of a civil rights murderer. Having adoption reform included with these weighty world issues was incredible and saying I was humbled to be in attendance with these women doesn’t quite cover it.

People ask me what its like to attend a film festival, and each one is different. RMWFF is an experience that’s defined by words like fulfillment, fruition, inspiration and enlightenment, and, well… extended slumber party. My only regret is that it only lasted four days…

Rich Uhrlaub got us an additional screen in Colorado. I kidnapped the mother of one of the RMWFF filmmakers and the two of us sped up to Denver to the Mercury Cafe to one of the most unique screenings I’ve ever attended for any film. Suffice it to say, clinking glasses, credit card machines and cash registers, waiters asking viewers if they wanted a beer, a sunlit screen, and ceiling thumps from Zydeco dancers upstairs (not to mention the catchy Cajun music) did not deter a hardy audience from enjoying the film. The audience included my oldest son’s best pal, Pieter, a South African who drove all the way from Connecticut (okay, so the screening happened to coincide with his cross country trip) to attend the film. Great beer, a great audience, and a marvelous Q&A. Bravo Rich and Jason!

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