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Get The Picture

November 28, 2007, 12:00 am
SFR's guide to the 2007 Santa Fe Film Festival.

Illegal immigration, the secret gulags of the former USSR and the World Jump Rope Competition-these are just a few of the subjects explored in this year's Santa Fe Film Festival. Indeed, in its eighth year, the Festival has grown in size and stature, but its offerings remain as eclectic as ever (see SFR's recommendations).

"The mission to champion independent cinema of all genres remains true," Stephen Rubin, the Festival's deputy director, says.

There is a logic to this vast array. This year's Festival includes 17 programs that focus on local filmmakers of the Southwest. "It's crucial to remain true to our roots," Rubin says. One of these films is Farmington, New Mexico native Justin Hunt's American Meth, which looks at the nationwide devastation wrought by the methamphetamine epidemic. There's also The Lives of Angels, a Santa Fe production about a father coping with the loss of his son. It stars, among others, Santa Fe native Raoul Trujillo (see SFR interview).


An Original: Alan Cumming's maverick ways make him one of a kind.

From Russian With Love: In the spirit of glastnost, Marina Goldovskaya opens up to SFR.

Native Son: Raoul Trujillo dishes on typecasting, Apocalypto and shamanism.

Pass the Popcorn, Please: Unsure what to see? Here's our picks.

Lights, Camera, Get Into the Action: After the show, hit the dance floor.

Work It: Panels and workshops available to the public.

***image1***But as much as the Festival spotlights local talent, its breadth is definitively global.

"Santa Fe audiences love world cinema," Rubin says. To that end, an expanding collaboration with National Geographic trucks in 18 films made by indigenous filmmakers from the world over. At least 15 of those filmmakers will attend the Festival. Moreover, the "Eye on the World" showcase touts international titles such as Israel's Jellyfish, which won the Camera D'Or award at this year's Cannes Film Festival.

Several filmmakers will be honored this year as Luminaria Tributees. Among them is documentary filmmaker Marina Goldovskaya, the first to expose the horrors of the Soviet gulags. She will be given an award for lifetime achievement and three of her films will be shown (see SFR interview). And actor, producer, writer and director Alan Cumming, of The Anniversary Party, will be given a Maverick Award and there will be a showing of  his new film, Suffering Man's Charity (see SFR profile).

The glamour starts to glisten with the "Gala" showcase, which trumpets big-name films-many with Oscar dreams - that are making their way around the world on the festival circuit. Marjane Satrap's groundbreaking graphic-novel-turned-film, Persepolis, and the much-anticipated comedy Juno are among those sure to sell out.

But even with these major releases, plus appearances by people like actor Viggo Mortensen (to introduce the film Save the American Wild Horse) and CBS set to unveil national television coverage from backstage at the Lensic, the Festival is not going ga-ga for the celebrity scene."Santa Feans aren't really that starstruck," Festival founder and Executive Director Jon Bowman says. "And the big celebrities are turned off to the attention - they'll wave and then they disappear into their hotel rooms. We want people that will interact with Festival goers."

For interacting (read: schmoozing) with filmmakers and film professionals, there's a multitude of lectures, panels, workshops and parties.

"Our goal is to provide an atmosphere where visiting filmmakers can meet***image2*** and mingle with original artists and the community," Festival Director of Communications and Events Melanie Moore says. Plus, there are panels and workshops on everything from how to make a movie on the cheap to method acting to the future of 3-D filmmaking.

Despite the apparent growth of the Festival's scope and the extra attention that comes with corporate sponsorship, Rubin says the Festival's main focus remains consistent.

"We want to remain a Festival that stresses the interaction between the patrons and the industry," he says. "We don't want to be Sundance. We're Santa Fe."