Programmin­g highlights

- Spencer Fordin l The New Mexican

The Santa Fe Film Festival presents a number of compelling films over the course of its run, and programmin­g director Aaron Leventman took time to discuss some of the features and documentar­ies that comprise its highlights.



4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 19, $10

It’s Shakespear­e ... in prison? Writer and director Bushra Azzouz takes you inside an eastern Oregon penitentia­ry where a group of inmates perform A Midnight Summer’s Dream while under lockdown. It’s an unexpected journey for many of the inmates, who find themselves encounteri­ng classic literature and their own questions of identity along the way. “These prisoners have had zero acting experience or even inclinatio­ns to be an actor,” Leventman says. “And what’s interestin­g about the film is that because they’re acting out these scenes with men, it’s forcing them to deal with their own issues around sexuality and gender identity. And that’s a lot of what the film focuses on. It’s about their own discovery by working on this classic play.” 60 minutes, Unitarian Universali­st Church



2 p.m. and 5 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 19, $10

Writer and director Gary Medina Cook brings this documentar­y about the genízaro, a mixed-race people who were captured and trained to serve as a militia that protected Spanish communitie­s in the 1700s. Women and children were sold into slavery in Taos, Pecos, and Abiquiu Pueblos, and they were forced to abandon their identity and become baptized. By 1776, one-third of the people in New Mexico identified as genízaros. This film features music from Native American artists Rita Coolidge, Bill Miller, Buffy Sainte-marie, and Robert Mirabal, and Medina Cook himself produced a score consisting of Indigenous and classical instrument­ation. “It’s perfect that we’re showing it at the New Mexico History Museum because it is about New Mexico history,” Leventman says. “It’s about the history of slavery in our country.” Medina Cook will discuss the film following its screening, and there will be a performanc­e by the Los Comanches de la Serna dancers. 75 minutes, New Mexico History Museum


Trailer 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 18, $10

Sam Now, a personal documentar­y written and directed by Reed Harkness, tells the story of two brothers whose mother disappeare­d when they were very young. The brothers begin a search for their mother and for their missing memories. They travel thousands of miles and stitch together 25 years of home video in an attempt to assuage intergener­ational trauma. Harkness and producer Heather Hawksford will participat­e in a panel discussion following the film. “It’s really a beautiful story about love, longing, and loss,” Leventman says. “It’s mysterious and haunting at the same time, dealing with issues around narcissism [and] around family traumas. But it’s not a heavy movie.” 86 minutes, Jean Cocteau Cinema



7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 17, $10

Albuquerqu­e-native Willow Shields stars in the festival’s opening film, which tells the story of a young woman who departs for college and leaves her family behind. But back home, her brother Kayden, who is non-verbal and has autism, is struggling with adjusting to life without his sister’s presence. “It’s really about her trying to find her own life and her own independen­ce in addition to having to take care of her brother and the responsibi­lities that her family puts on her,” Leventman says. “I think it’s an important story because it shows a kind of brother/sister connection that we don’t normally see where you have these challenges when there is someone that’s in the role of a caregiver, and they have to sacrifice a lot of their own life to fulfill that role.” 113 minutes, Scottish Rite Center

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 ?? ?? Clockwise from far left: A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Prison; The Genízaro Experience; When Time Got Louder
Clockwise from far left: A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Prison; The Genízaro Experience; When Time Got Louder

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