Early-bird tickets go on sale Aug. 21
Watch out Sundance and Telluride, the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival is no longer the scrawny new kid on the block. In fact, the festival has grown to be the largest of its kind in the state of New Mexico, according to festival organizers.
The festival enters its sixth year on Oct. 15-19 with an impressive showcase of more than 100 films and events. On Tuesday, it announced 10 of the official titles that will screen at this year's festival, including new films by Tommy Lee Jones and Debra Granik. The festival offers some 30 features, 50-60 shorts and a variety of educational events, discussions and parties at venues throughout downtown Santa Fe.
Since forming in 2009, the festival's growth has been swift. Last year, IndieWire Magazine described SFIFF as “a young Sundance.” The atmosphere is similar to the Telluride Film Festival but with twice the audience, clocking in at more than 10,000 attendees, said SFIFF executive director and co-founder Jacques Paisner.
“We are expanding what we feel like was already a world-class festival,” Paisner explained. “We are showing more foreign films, and more award-winning films. We said for a couple years that we want this to become the next Sundance and we're getting closer, with larger companies, partnerships and big names coming in to the sponsor the festival.”
Included in the festival's initial lineup is Tommy Lee Jones’ new film “The Homesman.” This American pioneer film stars Jones and Hilary Swank, and was shot in New Mexico. The film will have its own gala presentation at the Lensic Performing Arts Center, Oct 17.
"The Circle," a film set in Zurich in 1958 has already won the LGBT Teddy Award & Panorama Audience Award at the 2014 Berlin Film Festival.
The documentary "Stray Dog" – by "Winter’s Bone" director Debra Granik – is another film to keep an eye on. Stray Dog is a burly, bearded biker on a journey to pay tribute to his fallen brothers at the Vietnam Memorial. The film is described as "a powerful look at the veteran experience, a surprising love story and a fresh exploration of what it takes to survive in the hardscrabble heartland of America."
Destination Santa Fe
The festival is finalizing its fall program and Paisner hints that attendees can expect even more artists and movies than the past few years. He wants to see the festival to continue to expand as a world-class destination for film lovers. "We want to highlight Santa Fe as a city with unique cinemas, and we've already gained the attention of the national press for the past several festivals," he said.
The festival's offers a convenient date in mid-October, a time of the year that complements other local and national events, including the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta and fillm festivals throughout the country. Also, it doesn’t hurt that SFIFF is just in front of Hollywood’s award season, added Paisner.
Paisner attributes the festival's exponential growth to its emphasis on the artistry of its directors and filmmakers. A bulk of SFIFF attendees travel from Los Angeles and New York, said Paisner, who points out that in recent years he has seen a spike in numbers from surrounding states like Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado and Arizona.
"I enjoy bringing films and filmmakers here to have a good time," he said. It's a philosophy something akin to a fond childhood memory of sports, where the team that played to have fun always seemed to enjoy the game more than the team that played to win.
Nearly every independent theater in town will host SFIFF screenings, including CCA Cinematheque, Jean Cocteau Cinema, The Screen and the Lensic.
Certainly, festival-goers win when the people doing the organizing enjoy the process of creating a quality festival.
Additional films announced by the festival include "Four Corners" by Ian Gabriel, "Sun Belt Express" by Evan Buxbaum, "Trouble Dolls" by Jennifer Prediger and Jess Weixler, "The Winding Stream" by Beth Harrington, "Buzzard" by Joel Potrykus, "Seeds of Time" by Sandy McLeod and "Song from the Forest" by Michael Obert
The full schedule will be announced in early September, according to a festival media release. Early-bird festival passes will be available Aug. 21; individual tickets will be available by mid September.