News Column

Albuquerque Journal, N.M., Reel N.M. column

October 20, 2013


Oct. 20--Red or green? It's a question that many who live or visit New Mexico are asked on a daily basis.

This question is what gave Kelly Urig the idea to make her documentary, "The Chile Film."

The native Santa Fean's film is one of 39 films that will be featured as part of the New Mexico Filmmakers Showcase at the Guild Cinema which runs Friday, Oct. 25-Oct. 27.

"The Chile Film" will screen at 6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 26.

The showcase screens films by New Mexicans. The films run from three minutes to 68 minutes long. Urig began the film in 2011 as part of her master's thesis while at San Diego State University. The final cut of the film came in April.

"It's been a long journey and there was a time that I shot for nine months straight," she says. "I've been all across New Mexico and, fortunately for me, some of the people in the film are extended family members. They have a history of growing chile in the state."

Urig and crew traveled to Chimayo, Embudo, Hatch, Las Cruces, Santa Fe and Albuquerque.

The documentary explores how one plant has affected so much of the culture in New Mexico. It takes a look at the lives of chile farmers, restaurant owners and families whose lives are greatly affected by the ups and downs of this spicy pepper.

Urig says the chile industry provides more than 2,000 full-time and more than 10,000 part-time jobs to New Mexicans.

The industry is composed primarily of family-owned companies and farms who invest in our communities and work to improve them.

"I really didn't discover how much chile meant to me until I moved away to San Diego," she says. "When I lived in Denver, I was able to take some chile back up, but San Diego not so much. I realized that chile was a big part of me being New Mexican and my personal identity. I set out to do this documentary."

After nearly two years of filming, Urig had more than two terabytes worth of footage because she shot everything digitally.

"All the files were different sizes because I shot with different cameras," she says. "I'm sure there were over 1,000 hours that I had to sort through."

Urig has already had her film shown on PBS and it was screened at the White Sands International Film Festival. It also is showing at the NYC Food and Film Festival this weekend.

"I'm really excited about more New Mexicans getting to see the film," she says. "I've been trying to get it around the state so more people will see. I've also gotten some interest from the Farmer's Market in Santa Fe about maybe showing the film."

Urig also picked up an Emmy Award in the student production (long form) for "The Chile Film."

As far as the question of red or green, for Urig it's a little complicated.

"I'm one of those people where it's the season," she says. "In the winter I love red chile and it depends on the dishes as well. Usually if it's chicken, I have green and if it's pork, I like red."

According to the New Mexico Film Office, after the showcase the films will be taken to Portales, Roswell, Las Cruces, Grants, Taos and Santa Fe for screenings.

Other filmmakers participating are Lindsy Campbell, Renea Roberts, Lauren Petzke, Michael Zeilik, Anne Stirling, Jeff Hudson, Miranda Jensen, Grizelda Quintana, Jon Barr, Catherine Fridey, Eric Smigiel, Tyler Green, Dusty Deen, Christopher Wright, Dillon Cullinan, Jennifer Jordan, Clyde James Aragon, Samantha Filer, Amber and Angelique Midthunder, Matt Stanasolovich, Forrest Goodluck, Morse Bicknell, Nina Knapp, Danny Gura, Holly Adams, Richard A. Baldomar, Jean Stevens, Sylvia Padilla, Michael Miller, Geri Lynn Weinsten Matthews, Rick Chapman, Miguel Arambula, Gabe Priestly, Evan Curtis, Donna Wells, Elliot Stenzel, Marilyn Brindis, Mindy J. Cole, Denise Trochei, Rudy Miera and Ben Rice.

The entire showcase is free for the general public to attend. For more information, visit nmfilm. com.

SEND ME YOUR TIPS: If you know of a movie filming in the state, or are curious about one, email film@ Follow me on Twitter @agomezART. If you go

WHAT: New Mexico Filmmakers Showcase

WHEN: 7-9 p.m. Friday, Oct. 25; 11 a.m.-8:15 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 26; Noon-6:30 p.m. Oct. 27

WHERE: The Guild Cinema, 3405 E. Central



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