From classic, shot-in-New Mexico cinema to DVDs of the latest, homegrown indies to a book that covers the entire history of the film industry in our state, here’s a fine selection of gifts for those who like to watch.
This independently produced documentary was nominated for an Academy Award earlier this year and played to sold-out screenings at Albuquerque's Guild Cinema. The eye-opening film introduces audiences to the work of controversial outsider artist Ra Paulette, who has spent years digging cathedral-like “art caves” into the sandstone cliffs of northern New Mexico. DVD and Blu-ray Cavedigger discs are available through the film's website.
This inspirational family film was shot in Albuquerque on a shoestring budget generated from a Kickstarter campaign. It tells the story of a 12-year-old girl tasked with helping her school's penny charity drive for children in Afghanistan. With the help of a supportive math teacher and some major frenemies, our young heroine concocts a scheme to raise big bucks—one cent at a time. Albuquerque-based writer-director Christopher Boone worked on the film through the Sundance Institute's Screenwriting Lab. Cents is available for pre-order now on the website and will be released in December.
Sam Peckinpah's trend-hopping 1978 flick starring Kris Kristofferson, Ali MacGraw and Ernest Borgnine should be familiar to all New Mexicans. The action drama is hardly Peckinpah's finest hour (that would be 1969's The Wild Bunch), but it does spotlight loads of iconic New Mexican locations, including Cerrillos, Taos Plaza and the New Mexico State Fair Grounds. This cleaned-up new transfer (which hit DVD and Blu-Ray earlier in 2015 courtesy of Kino Lorber) features some great running commentary by Peckinpah, his biographer and several film historians. There's also a 73-minute, warts-and-all documentary showing how the fading, alcoholic director struggled to shoot the “based on a C.W. McCall song” movie.
Eaters, originally titled Folklore, is a no-budget, shot-in-New Mexico slasher flick written and directed by Johnny Tabor and starring Marcelle Bowman, Robert Dean, Jonathan Haltiwanger and Tristan Parrish Moore. The story concerns five friends who set out on a cross-country journey in the summer of 1974 and end up stuck in a town full of masked killers on the backroads of New Mexico. It was lensed in and around the Deming/Las Cruces area and makes eerie use of our state's desolate desert landscape.
Longtime film historian and former assistant manager at the Jean Cocteau Cinema in Santa Fe Jeff Berg has spent years conducting an ongoing film lecture series about the history of filmmaking in the Land of Enchantment. He’s covered everything from old Tom Mix Westerns to Terminator Salvation. Berg has finally gotten around to writing all his knowledge down in a comprehensive book published by History Press. You can get it through local bookstores like Bookworks or Page One.
Back in March preservation-minded label Criterion Collection put out a gorgeous 2K digital restoration of this rare film noir based on the hard-boiled novel by New Mexico author Dorothy B. Hughes. This 1947 adaptation, starring Robert Montgomery as a man who tries to blackmail a small-town mobster, was shot in and around Santa Fe. (You even get to see the Santa Fe Plaza as well as the Burning of Zozobra.) The antique carousel that inspired the novel was purchased by the producers and shipped in from Taos as a centerpiece of the film.
This documentary—based on a concept by legendary New Mexico newsman Conroy Chino, directed by David Aubrey and narrated by Native actress Irene Bedard—is inspired by the proverb “It takes a thousand voices to tell a single story.” The film attempts to build, from many sources, the “universal story of New Mexico's Native American women.” Among the artists, historians, writers, community leaders and entrepreneurs interviewed are women from the Navajo Nation, Mescalero Apache Tribe, Jicarilla Apache Tribe, Kiowa Tribe, Pueblo de Cochiti, Ohkay Owingeh, Laguna, Jemez, Pojoaque and more. To purchase a copy of the film, contact the folks at Santa Fe-based Silver Bullet Productions.