Choice City Film Festival at the Lyric

Saturday, Nov. 9, The Lyric (300 E Mountain Ave.) will be showing around 20 short films submitted by filmmakers around Colorado. Submissions came primarily from Fort Collins, though some came from Denver and one from as far as Colorado Springs.

“Our goal is to showcase and support filmmakers in Colorado,” Local Films Coordinator and Choice City Film Festival Director Maya Ortega said.


There were originally 40 films submitted, but the event has been cut down to around two and a half hours. The three film categories are under five minutes, five to 30 minutes and over 30 minutes. The festival begins at 7 p.m. and will be followed by an after-party at The Mainline (125 S College Ave.) Tickets are $15.

Ortega watched all the submissions in order to determine which films would be shown.

 “It’s been great to see the variety of work people are doing, from experimental narratives to comedy,” she said. “It’s been great to see what everyone else is doing.”

One of the films to be shown is “Autopilot” by Dario Ortega, Maya’s brother and a film student currently attending school in Savannah, Ga.

“Me and Maya have been into (film) since we were little. She was really into scripts and I was really into filming,” said Dario. “It started out with school projects with friends, silly videos with friends like remaking ‘Jackass.’

Despite his passion for the medium, he said, “I didn’t realize that could be a job until I was older.”

“‘Autopilot’ is a short film about a guy’s routine that kind of falls apart on him. It’s based on a short story by Kevin ‘Skarjo’ Thomas,” Dario said. “I contacted him to see if I could (make a film based on his story), but didn’t hear back from him so I went ahead and did it. I sent it to him and he loved it; he told me I could make (films) of any of his short stories I wanted.”

The film took about a month and a half to complete. “My concern is people don’t like it, but I think they will,” Dario said. “I’ve gotten mostly positive reviews.”

Another filmmaker, John Hartman, submitted a short called “Trash Can Warrior.”

“An android police officer is sent to reclaim a runaway trash can, with an unexpected conclusion,” he summarized the film. “It’s live action and sexy. But tasteful.”


Hartman came into filmmaking about 10 and a half years ago, guided, as he put it, by his intuition. “It’s going quite well,” he said. “I’m married to it.”

Hartman also said, “I understand there’s a crowd in Fort Collins that I haven’t yet tapped, and I’m interested to see how this plays out.”

Maya said, “I’m most looking forward to meeting everyone and helping them meet other filmmakers … As much as it’s about support and showcase, it’s also about networking and connecting filmmakers in this area to create a stronger base.”

One of the benefits of networking, according to Maya, is that, “A lot of time there’s equipment shortages, or someone who needs a particular crew position. I think this is a good way to kind of make it all work.”

There’s more in it for filmmakers than mere networking and showcasing, however.

“We do these awards called Learys — it’s a little statue with Denis Leary’s face on it — so everyone will be getting a very silly award, and that’s just kind of the gist of the Lyric,” said Maya.

“I think having this at (The Lyric) is charming,” Hartman said. “I think there should be more venues like it.”

“What’s great about the Lyric is it’s a local place. We serve beer, wine, food, different kinds of snacks in addition to popcorn and a coke; we really try to make it a unique, local experience,” explained Maya. “That’s our biggest emphasis, is creating a regionalized community of filmmakers to further the progress of Colorado and what’s going on here.”

If you can’t make it Saturday, don’t fret too much. The Lyric also offers student nights on Tuesdays, selling tickets to students for $4 after 5 p.m.

More information at

Collegian Entertainment Reporter Em Kribs can be reached at or @the_em_dash on Twitter.