Horsetooth film festival brings people together over the art of film

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Collegian | Michael Marquardt

Documentary filmmakers answer questions in a panel during Horsetooth Fest Sept. 10.

Zoe Hayman

Alex Hasenkamp, Arts and Entertainment Director

Horsetooth Fest, previously known as Horsetooth International Film Festival, kicked off its festivities Thursday at The Elizabeth Hotel terrace.

The festival is on its fourth year of exhibiting local and global films, art, music and technology over the course of four days.

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Including everything from art galleries, live sets, theaters and interactive experiences, co-founders John Hunt and Jesse Nyander aim to cater to everyone’s interests. 

“The idea is that if you’re a creative or you appreciate creative things, you can have a good time at the festival, regardless of which of those pillars you’re into,” Hunt said. 

Even if you’re not a filmmaker and just want to learn more about the industry, the creators purposefully provide a space for networking opportunities. 

Hunt and Nyander had some experience with smaller events in past years, but HIFF is their biggest to date. With a hand in just about every job, from marketing to design, they work hard with volunteers and sponsors to help grow the Fort Collins film scene and make the festival possible. 

The second day of the fest was Sept. 9 at the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery, which is home to the OtterBox Digital Dome Theater, similar to a planetarium. According to their website, this allows for a 360-degree film viewing with surround sound. 

On Friday, a film called “In Orbit: An Interactive Journey” was displayed in the dome. Created with new technology called Kinetarium, the show encouraged everyone to participate in the space-themed video on their mobile phones. A narrator gave a brief history of human space travel and proceeded to enlighten the crowd about the increasing hazards of space junk. 

After the presentation, the audience was prompted with a quiz on all the facts they learned.  

If you weren’t feeling up to the planetarium scene, you were able to freely wander the museum and check out a kiosk or two. 

The museum’s coordinator of engagement, Eisen Tamkun, was stationed at his booth, excited to share his demonstrations and fun facts about the foley industry: the job of creating sound effects for movies. 

Along with some merchandise and assorted business kiosks, there was a lot to explore.  

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Throughout the whole night, people milled about the center floor, snacking on grapes and cheese while engaging conversation. 

One young film director, Cortez Campos, was certainly making himself known — a sophomore from Syracuse University who flew all the way in from New York after his film “Space Oddity” was accepted to the festival. With numerous awards, including the Young Trailblazer Award from the Official Latino Film and Arts Festival, Campos spoke of his passion for cinema and hopes of continuing his career in directing and producing.  

During the pandemic, the HIFF founders tried to meet via Zoom, soon realizing an online event wasn’t going to cut it. Eventually, they were allowed to gather in a pandemic-safe environment, thanks to available outdoor venues. 

“The pandemic helped us realize the true value of the festival,” Hunt said. “It’s not just the content, it’s being there and networking with those people.”

This year, they are back on track with their usual indoor settings, which Hunt and Nyander agree better serves their purpose of bringing the community together. 

“Inclusiveness over the exclusiveness, people aren’t coming in with the notion that other contenders are their competition (but) rather that they are people who they can work with in the future,” Nyander said.

The Saturday and Sunday events took place at the Rialto Theater and The Lyric. The exhibited films included themes such as documentary, experimental, narrative and animated. 

The event had a little something for everyone. 

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to reflect the new name of the film festival.

Reach Alex Hasenkamp at entertainment@collegian.com or on twitter @csucollegian.