News Column

EDITORIAL: A film festival takes off

October 17, 2013


Oct. 17--The return of the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival serves to remind all of us of the importance of vibrant storytelling, especially ones created by voices outside the mainstream. In its fifth year, the festival brings together a mixture of shorts, full-length features and documentaries, presented at venues across Santa Fe.

The festival kicked off Wednesday, with highlights to come including tonight's screening of Tapia, the documentary from Eddie Alcaraz about New Mexico's favorite boxing son. On Friday, there's Sweetwater, the Western thriller made in New Mexico (now titled Sweet Vengeance) and starring such A-listers as January Jones. Both of those will be shown at the Lensic Performing Arts Center, with other events at the CCA, The Screen and the Jean Cocteau Cinema. The highlight Saturday night is a stand-up performance from John Waters, that creative genius whose career defies category. He'll also be at the Lensic, with a book-signing to follow his one-man show.

A whole portion of the festival, New Mexican shorts, focuses on movies made by New Mexicans. Such inclusion helps remind everyone that New Mexico is not just place where movies can be made, but also a place where movie makers can be born, raised and eventually, work.

As with any self-respecting film festival, there also will be parties and various events (the festival ends Sunday). Most important -- to lovers of filmmaking, anyway -- are the festival's panels and discussions designed to teach more about the nuts and bolts of filmmaking. Taos writer John Nichols (Milagro Beanfield War and Sterile Cuckoo) is speaking on a panel with (All in the Family's) Ron Bloomberg and Joan Torres (Blacula) on Saturday at the CCA; those who know Nichols' story remember that he assisted with the screenplay for Missing. He wasn't credited, though, because of a Writers' Guild decision, but the adapted screenplay did win an Oscar. (A documentary on Nichols, Milagro Man, will be shown Sunday at the CCA Main Theater.) Wes and Maura Dhu Studi, Santa Fe locals and actors, will discuss performance, and director Chris Eyre (Smoke Signals) will read from a screenplay in progress in other presentations for the festival. A busy schedule, in other words.

Obviously, this is an event designed to encourage interaction among fans and artists, audience and filmmakers. Some 5,000 people attended last year: This year, the festival has 100-plus films showing. Its timing bridges the tourist season, too, attracting visitors between summer's cultural events and winter's outdoor sports, and offering yet another opportunity to demonstrate that New Mexico is the site of a vibrant filmmaking scene.

Best of all, the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival showcases what is best about this city and state: creativity, great stories and the inspiration to follow a singular vision.


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