October 2, 2008

The Big Screen

By Kathaleen Roberts Journal Staff Writer

Film buffs can choose movies with everything from mummies to Espaola lowriders when the Third Annual New Mexico Film Expo opens tonight at the former Jean Cocteau, 418 Montezuma Ave.

Nearly 120 films will be screened at the New Mexico Film Museum location through Sunday as jurors and audience members make final selections for inclusion into the Ninth Annual Santa Fe Film Festival on Dec. 3-7. Selections will be based on jury and audience favorites culled from a ballot in which patrons choose their top three films in various genres, said Stephen Rubin, program director of the Santa Fe Film Festival. This marks the first year the judging has been done without using festival staff members, a move taken to prevent them from rating films produced by people they know.

"The number of films has grown by 20 to 30 every year," Rubin said. "It's really a wide gamut." Film tickets cost $5. Attendees can celebrate at nightly parties and see panel discussions on New Mexico filmmaking and Native American filmmaking. The RueBarbs will open the expo at 9:30 p.m. today in the Railyard Performance Center.

Some of the more high-profile films will include expo opener "Taos: The Movie" by Brandon Schmid.

"It's about a young clerk in a D.C. law firm," Rubin said. "He's headed to Aspen and meets his girlfriend on the Christmas holidays."

He's also likely the only person who would travel from the East Coast to Aspen via Taos, Rubin added with a laugh.

"It's about the mystique of Taos and a young white man and how he's affected by the Native influence of Taos," Rubin said. "It's a well-made feature and it's very good."

College of Santa Fe graduate Brent Bayless' "The Unfound" also features Native American themes with the addition of wellknown New Mexico actors Fredrick Lopez, Luce Rains and J.D. Garfield.

"It's the adventures of a journalist in search of a Native American prophet on a vision quest," Rubin said.

"Flowing Grasses: The Life of Artist Dean Howell" focuses on the life of the New Mexico artist, while "Roswell Album" amounts to an extended video of Santa Fe singer/songwriter Joe West, Rubin said.

Producer Thadd Turner will present the family drama "Truce," for which he won the 2007 Bronze Wrangler from the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. The expo will also screen Turner's "Seven Mummies," about six convicts traveling through the Arizona desert in a van. The men escape to seek Spanish treasure but stumble upon an old ghost town populated by vampires and zombies. Turner's "Christmas Miracle at Sage Creek," starring Wes Studi and David Carradine, is slated for this year's Santa Fe Film Festival.

This year's jurors include Kirk Ellis, the Emmy Awardwinning producer and author of the screenplay for "John Adams;" Alton Walpole, producer of the Santa Fe-filmed and critical favorite "The Tao of Steve;" actress/director/ teacher Maura Dhu Studi; writer Devin O'Leary; documentarian and filmmaker Jonathan Lowe; Tamalewood film, video and production services founder Lenny Sanchez; producer Judy Bell; producer/director/actress Janet Davidson; and Karen Red- Hawk Dallett, founder of Santa Fe's Talking Stick Native American Film Festival.

The parties will continue with the Santa Fakers at the San Francisco Street Bar and Grill, 50 E. San Francisco St., at 9 p.m. Friday. The Georgie Angel Band will play at the Catamount, 125 E. Water St., at 8 p.m. Saturday. Billy D. will close the festival at the Cowgirl, 319 S. Guadalupe St., at 8 p.m. Sunday.

On Monday, Oct. 6, the festival will launch a series of first Monday of the month New Mexico film screenings from 6:15 to 9:30 p.m. at the Cinemacafe, 1600 St. Michael's Drive.

Call (505) 988-7414 or visit santafefilmfestival. com for more information.

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