Thursday, October 21, 2010


Fewer titles, but much to love for film fest fans
Santa Fe Film Festival scales back annual event

Robert Nott
The New Mexican
October 21, 2010

Film buffs will have their pick of movie fests this week as the Santa Fe Film Festival kicks off its 11th (some say 12th) year Friday while the relative newcomer, Santa Fe Independent Film Festival (which started Tuesday evening), continues its second year through the weekend.

Both fests promise film screenings, informal panel discussions and social events, but in terms of quantity, the Independent Film Festival is offering some 60 titles this year — mostly indie titles. The Santa Fe Film Festival, by contrast, has contracted its schedule considerably, cutting back from the usual 100 to 200 titles to eight feature films, 15 short movies, four panel talks and one party.

Yet organizers of both fests say the buzz is high and ticket sales are brisk. Michael Hare, co-artistic director of the Santa Fe Film Festival, said Wednesday that seven of the festival's eight major titles are selling very well and may be sold out by Friday.

Those films, which include The Four Times (Le Quattro Volte), an Italian spiritual fable that was just selected for the Directors' Fortnight showcase at the Cannes Film Festival, and French film director Bertrand Tavernier's The Princess of Montpensier, are all playing at the Center for Contemporary Arts Cinematheque on Old Pecos Trail, which only seats about 140 patrons.

The eighth big title, the 1970 Mike Nichols' film Catch-22, runs at the much larger Lensic Performing Arts Center on San Francisco Street on Sunday afternoon. That screening will be followed by a discussion with Catch-22 actors Richard Benjamin and Paula Prentiss (and maybe star Alan Arkin, a Santa Fean who is currently filming a movie on the East Coast).

Hare acknowledged this year's festival is smaller as the organization attempts to rein in the spending and refocus its mission.

"We are just reducing the scale," he said. "There are smaller, more intimate and relaxing festivals around the country, and we want to be at that end of the spectrum." He and co-artistic director Rose Kuo are laying out a three-year plan for the festival, which was founded in the late 1990s by film buffs Jon Bowman, David Koh, Michelle Kiley and others. (Accounts differ as to whether it was officially founded in 1999 or 2000.)

Meanwhile, the upstart Santa Fe Independent Film Festival is trying to make a name for itself as "the premiere exhibition platform for independent film here," according to David Moore, who co-directs the event with Jacques Paisner.

On Tuesday, 120 people attended a free screening of Salt of the Earth (the 1954 labor drama shot in New Mexico), Moore said. "To get that many people in one room on a Tuesday night I consider quite an accomplishment. I'm surprised at how people responded and applauded at the end; if that's a harbinger of things to come, we're very pleased," he said.

The Independent Film Festival's screening venue is Warehouse 21 on Paseo de Peralta, though it hosts informal coffee chats about the film business at the Aztec Cafe on Aztec Street.

Hare said he thinks the two events will complement one another. "I'm kind of a 'the more the merrier' guy," he said. "We know we are creating a relatively small footprint, so we encourage people to do their own thing and make it a good weekend."

Moore and Paisner have said they think it's a smart idea to hold their festival at the same time as the more mainstream Santa Fe Film Festival — as they did last year when both fests took place in December.

Both festivals are expecting participation from filmmakers who have products playing here; Hare said each of the feature films in the Santa Fe Film Festival will be followed by a question-and-answer session with either film artists associated with the movie or film historians and critics familiar with the work.

He said this is a year for the changing festival to "test-pilot some ideas. We want to make sure we do it well.

"Hopefully people will be patient, and next year it will be a little bit bigger — we may have 16 titles next year and by year three get into the low 20s."

Moore said he wants the Independent Film Festival to be "the best fest that it can be to bring independent film to people."

Visit and/or for a schedule of events and details on both festivals.

Contact Robert Nott at 986-3021 or
Copyright The Santa Fe New Mexican

Related: Secial Film Festival Exhibition for Brian Hamill

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