Film Festival Preview: The Cinema Different, A Look At The Santa Fe Independent Film Festival

The Santa Fe Independent Film Festival

Devin D. O'Leary
4 min read
The Cinema Different
Beauty 24 airs Dec. 4 at 7 p.m.
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While the venerable Santa Fe Film Festival reaches its milestone 10 th year, organizers of the upstart Santa Fe Independent Film Festival are grasping for a milestone of their own: their very first year. For its inaugural outing—taking place Friday, Dec. 4, through Sunday, Dec. 6—the SFIFF promises to bring “the most provocative” independent films from around the globe.

As the organizers say on their website: “We do not host lavish parties, stroke movie stars or charge outrageous ticket prices. It is the belief of the Santa Fe Independent that art is for the people and going to the movies should cost six bucks or less. Our objective is to put film in New Mexico back into the hands of the community through a grassroots movement of filmmakers. By doing so, we plan to create a model for the democratization of film all over the world.”

It’s an ambitious mission statement. One that fires more than a few shot across the bow of the decade-old cinematic juggernaut taking place across town. “We organized the festival based on the lack of platform for independent films in the state, as well as the absence of any independent or alternative fest in Santa Fe,” says the festival’s co-founder Jacques Paisner. Paisner should have a pretty good idea about the subject. His first feature film
Rejection , an adaptation of his short story collection Albuquerque Blues , is among the films screening at this first Independent Film Festival. (You guessed it: The film was rejected for inclusion in the 10 th Annual Santa Fe Film Festival.)

Some 22 features, shorts and trailers are lined up to screen at the freshman SFIFF. It’s a sizable collection for a first outing. Paisner credits his festival’s full schedule to “a massive surge of support from the community.” Friday’s and Saturday’s screenings will take place at Warehouse 21, while Sunday’s screenings will be at the Santa Fe Complex.

Not content to merely screen films, organizers have come up with several “intimate discussion” sessions with guest filmmakers. These casual chats will take place Friday and Saturday at the Station Coffeehouse, keeping events centered around Santa Fe’s Railyard complex. Mohican composer Brent Michael Davids will cover the art of film scoring. Actor/producer/director Norman Patrick Brown, who has contributed several documentaries to PBS’ “Independent Lens” series, will discuss independent filmmaking.

Brown is also being honored at the festival with the Body of Work award for directing, and he’ll unveil a sneak preview of his new film
The Rainbow Boy during Saturday night’s award ceremony. Fellow indigenous actor Gary Farmer will be there as well to receive the Body of Work award for acting. Farmer will screen his latest directing effort, the short film “Powerball,” Saturday afternoon.

Adding further to the Native American presence, Cherokee actor Wes Studi has contributed his own short film, the unconventional horror comedy “Goodnight My Zombies.” Among the Santa Fe-based offerings are Matt Page’s “Fools Gold” and Stephen “Jules” Rubin’s “The Last Pill.” Among the feature films is Santa Fe writer-director-producer Henry Valdez’ film
But Jenny, You’re From Vegas , which won the Dramatic Feature category at September’s New Mexico Film Expo but also failed to secure a spot in this weekend’s pared-down Santa Fe Film Festival.

While it remains to be seen whether Santa Fe can actually support two film festivals on the same weekend, the Santa Fe Independent is off to a rowdy, rebellious and rather impressive start.

The Santa Fe Independent Film Festival

Friday, Dec. 4, through Sunday, Dec. 6

Tickets: $6 per day and $10 for an all-access festival pass. Available in advance at the Station Coffeehouse, trackside at the Santa Fe Depot, from Warehouse 21 or by calling David Moore at (505) 795-8480.

For complete schedule information, log on to

The Cinema Different

The Cinema Different

“Assimilation” airs Dec. 4 at 5:30 p.m.

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