An over­view

Pasatiempo - - PASATIEMPO -

the Santa Fe Film Fes­ti­val is back. It’s had a ten­u­ous few years, re­bound­ing from re­ces­sion­re­lated fi­nan­cial is­sues and an ex­per­i­men­tal reschedul­ing, in 2014, to May from its usual slot in De­cem­ber. But it’s re­claimed the first week­end in De­cem­ber, SFFF ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor NaNi Rivera told Pasatiempo, be­cause the tim­ing at­tracts film­mak­ers and film buffs to Santa Fe dur­ing a sea­sonal lull in tourism, and it al­lows lo­cal film crews to par­tic­i­pate dur­ing what is typ­i­cally their down­time. “They’re busy work­ing on far more pro­duc­tions in May than they are in De­cem­ber,” Rivera ex­plained.

SFFF’s history ex­tends to the early 1980s, when the founders of the Taos Talk­ing Pic­ture and Telluride film fes­ti­vals wanted to bring some­thing sim­i­lar to the City Dif­fer­ent. The cur­rent in­car­na­tion of SFFF dates to 1999, which makes it the old­est con­tin­u­ously op­er­at­ing film fes­ti­val in New Mex­ico. This year or­ga­niz­ers have re­branded it as the “orig­i­nal” Santa Fe Film Fes­ti­val to set it apart from up­starts such as the Santa Fe In­de­pen­dent Film Fes­ti­val, which was es­tab­lished in 2009 and is held an­nu­ally in Oc­to­ber. “We wanted to re­mind peo­ple how much history the fes­ti­val has,” Rivera said. “We were the very first main­stream film fes­ti­val in the state of New Mex­ico, and we’re very proud of that.” She added that there are now up­wards of 30 film fes­ti­vals in the state, at least 10 of which are held in Santa Fe.

The five-day fes­ti­val, which be­gan on Wed­nes­day, Dec. 2, and runs through Sun­day, Dec. 6, in­cludes screen­ings of ma­jor fea­ture films, doc­u­men­taries, short-film show­cases, ret­ro­spec­tives, pan­els, par­ties, and a slate of free events on Satur­day and Sun­day called Tune Up. Tune Up is de­signed to help con­nect as­pir­ing film pro­fes­sion­als to the in­dus­try in New Mex­ico as well as in Hol­ly­wood. Rivera leads an al­lvol­un­teer staff pro­duc­ing SFFF; she works full-time as the di­rec­tor of spe­cial projects for IATSE Lo­cal 480, the union for film tech­ni­cians in New Mex­ico. She is privy to the in­ner-work­ings of the lo­cal in­dus­try, and she uses that insight to make SFFF more than just an ex­pe­ri­ence for movie view­ers. “We hold Tune Up to build the in­fra­struc­ture of film pro­duc­tion as a whole. I’ve reached out to ev­ery film fes­ti­val in the state of New Mex­ico and asked or­ga­niz­ers to meet with me at our events in De­cem­ber, be­cause we want to help as many fes­ti­vals grow as pos­si­ble — we want to nour­ish them,” she said. This year’s Tune Up in­cludes ses­sions

on aerial cin­e­matog­ra­phy and cast­ing, among other top­ics de­signed to train and ed­u­cate.

“We’re in a unique po­si­tion in that there’s a boom­ing film in­dus­try in Santa Fe, and our fes­ti­val re­minds the film in­dus­try na­tion­wide that New Mex­ico has be­come a huge base for film­mak­ing,” said Aaron Levent­man, the fes­ti­val’s pro­gram­mer. He has se­lected a com­bi­na­tion of main­stream, lo­cal, and in­ter­na­tional films. He em­pha­sized three must-see short film show­cases this year: New Mex­ico Shorts Cin­ema, in which all films are made by film­mak­ers with a con­nec­tion to the Land of En­chant­ment (Satur­day, Dec. 5, 4:30 p.m., Cen­ter for Progress and Jus­tice, 1420 Cer­ril­los Road); Sto­ries from Our Lives: LGBQT+ Shorts Pro­gram (Sun­day, Dec. 6, 1:30 p.m., Cen­ter for Con­tem­po­rary Arts, 1050 Old Pe­cos Trail); and Na­tive Cin­ema (Dec. 6, 4 p.m., Jean Cocteau Cin­ema, 418 Mon­tezuma Ave.).

“We know we have a Na­tive au­di­ence here, so it was im­por­tant to us to make sure we had a good col­lec­tion for the fes­ti­val,” Levent­man said. Films in the Na­tive cin­ema show­case in­clude 100 Years of Free­dom, a doc­u­men­tary di­rected by Daniel Ostroff about the Fort Sill Apache tribe’s cen­ten­nial cel­e­bra­tion of the fi­nal release of the Chir­ic­ahua/Warm Springs Apache pris­on­ers of war, and Fancy Dancer, a nar­ra­tive film di­rected by J.R. Mathews about a Na­tive Amer­i­can man, adopted by a white fam­ily, who dis­cov­ers his cul­ture through the medium of dance.

There are many strong doc­u­men­taries in the pro­gram, in­clud­ing sev­eral about World War II, and ret­ro­spec­tive screen­ings of clas­sic films writ­ten by Mark Medoff (Chil­dren of a Lesser God, Homage) and di­rected by Peter Bog­danovich (Mask, Pa­per Moon, The Last Pic­ture Show). Medoff is hon­ored as a “shin­ing” New Mex­ico film­maker at the pa­tron din­ner on Satur­day night, Dec. 5, at Coy­ote Café, and Bog­danovich re­ceives a Life­time Achieve­ment Award on Sun­day, Dec. 6. One of the big­gest main­stream Hol­ly­wood movies in the fes­ti­val is Tum­ble­down, star­ring Ja­son Sudeikis and Re­becca Hall, a ro­man­tic com­edy about a young widow and the aca­demic who wants to write about her late hus­band.

“We get a lot of strong doc­u­men­taries, but a fic­tion film with a strong nar­ra­tive — I tend to pay at­ten­tion to that,” Levent­man said. “I thought the film was in­ter­est­ing be­cause it’s about th­ese char­ac­ters’ pas­sion for mu­sic, and how their con­nec­tion hap­pens be­cause of that. It’s also about what’s im­por­tant ar­tis­ti­cally, which I thought would be im­por­tant to a lot of artists and mu­si­cians in Santa Fe.”

Tum­ble­down shows at 1:30 p.m. on Fri­day, Dec. 4, at CCA, with the short film Dream­ing of Peggy Lee, about two chil­dren in the 1940s who sneak into a jazz club. Many of the fea­ture-length films are pre­ceded by the­mat­i­cally re­lated shorts, and some of the doc­u­men­taries are sim­i­larly paired. There are come­dies and heart­felt dra­mas, his­tor­i­cal por­traits and less con­ven­tional doc­u­men­taries, such as Raiders! The Story of the Great­est Fan Film Ever Made, about a shot-for-shot re­make of Raiders of the Lost Ark by three young fans.

All-ac­cess passes to the Santa Fe Film Fes­ti­val are $300. Ad­mis­sion to in­di­vid­ual events and screen­ings are $12 to $25, with the ex­cep­tion of events held at the Cen­ter for Progress and Jus­tice, which are free. For a com­plete sched­ule and tick­et­ing in­for­ma­tion, visit www.santafe­film­fes­ti­ — Jen­nifer Levin

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