The motto for the third annual Albuquerque Film Festival is “Hip. Cool. Funny. Strange. Social Change.” That all-things-to-all-people promise is more than fulfilled in the festival’s eclectic lineup of events, which runs Aug. 18 through 21.
The fest fires up at the KiMo Theatre on Thursday with the prestigious opening night film Amigo. This is the 17th feature film written and directed by indie auteur John Sayles (Passion Fish, Eight Men Out, Lone Star) and relates the story of a village mayor caught in the murderous crossfire of the Philippine-American War of 1900. Keeping with the interactive mission of the film festival, a Q&A will follow the screening moderated by the Filipino-American Foundation of New Mexico.
Changing gears radically is Friday night’s big-ticket show, a screening of the would-be 2008 cult flick Hell Ride starring Michael Madsen. The film is a freewheeling re-creation of grindhouse motorcycle flicks like The Born Losers, Satan’s Sadists, Hells Angels on Wheels and The Wild Angels. Madsen is the recipient of the 2011 AFF Maverick Award and will be honored at the closing-night award ceremony. Madsen will host the Hell Ride screening, alongside the film’s writer-director Larry Bishop. That screening will take place at 10 p.m. at the KiMo. Madsen will also participate in a book signing and poetry reading on Saturday starting at 8 p.m. at KiMo. That’s followed by a late-night screening of Madsen’s most famous film, Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs, in which the actor plays the memorably murderous Mr. Blonde.
Also on the guest list for this year’s festival are famed cinematographer Haskell Wexler (who will present John Sayles’ starkly beautiful 1987 drama Matewan) and actor Dean Stockwell (who will be present for a special screening of the 1988 Jonathan Demme comedy Married to the Mob). Both are also slated to take home awards at the closing-night ceremony.
The rest of the weekend’s offerings spotlight a head-turning mixture of genres. There’s a double-feature of zombie comedies, The Dead Inside (Thursday, 7 p.m.) and Deadheads (Thursday, 9:30 p.m.). There’s a documentary about rocker-turned-entrepreneur Sammy Hagar, titled Go There Once, Be There Twice (Saturday, 4 p.m.). There’s an entire collection of Native cinema shorts, features and documentaries, topped off by the Friday-night screening of Reel Injun, a documentary look at Hollywood’s long history of representing (most often misrepresenting) Native Americans on film (6 p.m.). Following its late-July premiere at Guild Cinema, there will be a screening of Ryan Turri and Marc Shuter’s New Mexico-lensed indie comedy The Bigfoot Election (Saturday, 10 a.m.). And that’s just scratching the surface of the more than 50 feature film blocks this year’s fest is offering.
If you wanna learn more about all the film screenings, panel discussions, book signings, art exhibits, parties, motorcycle rallies and live comedy shows, visit abqfilmfestival.com. Individual tickets ($10) and passes ($30 to $199) are available now at holdmyticket.com. Events will take place at the KiMo Theatre, Guild Cinema, Lobo Theater, Main Library and Hyatt Regency.