“This weekend at the Santa Fe Film Festival…”
Now I remember why my choices for films to see at the Santa Fe Film Festival are so difficult to make— it's all Brent Kliewer's fault. Kliewer is the director of programming for the festival and he has been programming films for Santa Feans since 1982.
An internationally known film curator, Kliewer founded the Jean Cocteau Theatre in 1983 and, in 1986, began a decade of building the film program at the Center for Contemporary Arts. His extensive knowledge of the history of world cinema and contemporary works led to his position as film critic at the Santa Fe New Mexican and five years as an adjunct professor in critical studies in the Moving Image Arts Department at the College of Santa Fe (now the University of Art and Design). In the late '90s, Brent was instrumental in the design of The Screen, Santa Fe's premier cinematheque, and as its director of film programming, a position he still holds today.
I have gone to a lot of film festivals and, absent Kliewer's level of curatorial skills, I sometimes found myself sitting through a real dog, no offense meant to our beloved Chow- Golden Retriever mix at home. Since Kliewer's arrival as festival programmer, I find nothing but great choices ahead. Here are some of mine.
Living Traditions - 10:45 a.m. at New Mexico History Museum
Directed by Katie Peters and Pat Hall and produced by Michael Pettit, this documentary is an exploration of the lives and art of 15 of New Mexico's most distinguished traditional/folk artists. Musicians, potters, santeros, weavers, and woodcarvers are among those who reveal the sources and practices of their ancient arts, learned in pueblos and Hispanic villages. This film grew out of the interviews that Pettit did for his recently-released book, "Artists of New Mexico Traditions & The National Heritage Fellows."
Jake ShimabUKuro: Life on Four Strings - 12:45 p.m. at CCA
Director Tadashi Nakamura’s documentary consists of intimate conversations with ShimabUKuro, an inspiring and inventive musician whose virtuoso skills on the ukulele have transformed all previous notions of the instrument's potential, revealing the cultural and personal influences that have shaped the man and the musician.
The Cardboard Bernini - 1:30 p.m. at CCA
This film by director and screenwriter, Olympia Stone is about artist James Grashow, who, inspired by Bernini's Trevi Fountain, painstakingly builds a replica, in cardboard. The surprising grace and beauty of the piece is upstaged by Grashow's plan to watch it disintegrate in the elements. His self-propelled journey to experience creation and loss reveal regret, past betrayals and ultimately his personal struggle with mortality.
Nairobi Half Life - 2 p.m. at CCA
A young, aspiring actor from upcountry Kenya dreams of becoming a success in the big city in this drama by director David “Tosh” Gitonga. To the chagrin of his family, he makes his way to Nairobi, where he becomes involved in the world of theft and violence.
Nothing Without You - 4 p.m. at CCA
A psych-patient, accused of a violent murder, turns to her court-appointed psychiatrist to prove her innocence and sanity. This fast-paced thriller will keep you guessing until the very end.
Amour - 6:30 p.m. at CCA
Director/screenwriter Michael Haneke's Amour, the Palme D'or winner at Cannes this year, is an intimate study of the effects of aging and dementia on a blissful married couple.
On the Road - 7:30 p.m. at The Screen
Walter Salles's adaptation of Jack Kerouac's generation-defining novel is a vibrantly visualized period piece about the birth of the American counterculture and features a star-studded cast including Garrett Hedlund, Kristen Stewart, Amy Adams, Kirsten Dunst and Viggo Mortensen.
Barbara - 12:30 p.m. at The Screen
East Germany, 1980: Dr. Barbara Wolf arrives in the provinces, under surveillance and determined to escape. However, her growing relationship with the clinic's lead physician leads to a decision that changes a young patient's future. This entry from director and screenwriter Christian Petzold was a Silver Bear winner at Berlin.
The Deception - 3 p.m. at CCA
This coming-of-age film with a political edge from director Jay Durrwatcher reveals a candidate's secret love affair with a boy back in his youth. Twenty years have passed and Chip, now Christopher, is pursuing a life in politics, but when his past resurfaces, his carefully constructed world threatens to crumble around him.
Lore - 4 p.m. at The Screen
In this coming-of age-tale, 15-year-old Lore, daughter of an SS officer, must shepherd her younger siblings through divided post-war Germany, to the safety of a grandmother's house outside of Hamburg. Australia's foreign-language Oscar entry from director Cate Shortland.
The Sapphires - 5:30 p.m. at CCA
Set against the racial and social upheaval of the late 1960s, a music producer plucks four young, talented aboriginal girls from obscurity at a remote mission in Australia, and gives them an opportunity to entertain American troops in Vietnam. Catapulted to stardom, the girls receive an accelerated education in life.
Any Day Now - 7:15 p.m. at The Screen
Inspired by the true story of an abandoned teenager with Down's Syndrome who was taken in by a gay couple who must fight a biased system that threatens their untraditional family, this entry by director and screenwriter Travis Fine brings us stellar performances from Alan Cumming and Garret Dillahunt.