Water is an important issue to New Mexicans. A number of recent documentaries have focused specifically on the use and misuse of water in the region. Those sorts of filmmakers might want to take note of the 2012 Intelligent Use of Water Film Competition. This marks the fifth year for the conservation-minded fest. The competition is open to all narrative, documentary, animated, experimental and/or student-made short films. All, of course, are expected to highlight the importance of water conservation. Filmmakers who submit via the competition website will have their work judged by a panel made up of film and water experts. Finalists could win a trip to Los Angeles, where they will be guests at a formal screening event hosted by wildlife expert Jack Hanna. (Not too shabby.) Finalists will also participate in a post-screening roundtable discussion. In the end, two winners will be chosen. The Jury Award winner gets $10,000. The Audience Award winner gets $5,000. The final screening will take place Oct. 17 at L.A.’s Paley Center for Media. You have until Aug. 15 to submit you short (10 minutes or under) videos. Turn off that hose and turn on that camera.
Salt of the Earth, the 1954 drama about a contentious labor strike at a small-town New Mexico zinc mine, remains one of the most influential films ever shot in the Land of Enchantment. Actual miners and their families involved in the inspirational 1951 strike against Empire Zinc Company in Grant County were used by the producers as cast members. The film was almost immediately blacklisted by the Hollywood establishment for its alleged communist politics. Writer-director Herbert Biberman refused to answer questions by the House Committee on Un-American Activities. He became one of the notorious “Hollywood Ten” and spent six months at a federal correctional institution. Suppressed for many years, the film had a resurgence among underground audiences in the ’60s. In the early ’90s, the film was selected for preservation by the United States National Film Registry. Noam Chomsky has praised it as “one of the really great movies.” On Wednesday, April 25, the Center of Southwest Culture will present a screening at the KiMo Theatre starting at 7 p.m. A Q & A will follow, featuring Arturo Sandoval of the Center for Southwest Culture. Admission is free.