Santa Fe Film Festival -

The 24th edition of the Santa Fe Film Festival (SFFF 24) is scheduled for April 25-28th, promising an exciting showcase for film enthusiasts. This year’s festival will feature a remarkable array of films by renowned filmmakers and will honor distinguished guests. More than 100 feature and short films will be presented over the course of the weekend, selected from a pool of thousands of entries, with the majority of filmmakers planning to be present. As a 501(c)(3) non-profit, the festival consistently assembles a diverse collection of films, focusing on those that stand out and adhere to its motto “Cinema Different”.

Opening Night

The festival will open dramatically with the premiere of the indie sports-drama AMERICAN UNDERDOG, a film about redemption in the MMA arena, directed by first-time Peruvian-American director Gustavo Martin Benites. The cast includes Danny Trejo, Veronica Falcón, Vishy Ayyar, Taylor Treadwell, Suleka Mathew, and Andrew Gray, all of whom, along with producers Naveen A. Chathapuram, Cristy Coors Beasley, and Rashaana Shah, will attend the film’s presentation. The evening will begin with Danny Trejo receiving the festival’s most prestigious award, the Lifetime Achievement Award, at the Scottish Rite Temple Theater.

Danny Trejo

Saturday Events

On Saturday, at the SFFF 24 Award Ceremony, the Festival will present Val Kilmer, celebrated actor, filmmaker, and artist, with the Luminaria Award in recognition of his extraordinary contributions to the arts and his influential role in inspiring the creativity of others. In a special highlight of the festival, there will be a rare exhibition of Val Kilmer’s paintings at the Edition One Gallery at 729 Canyon Road, Santa Fe, NM 87501. This gallery exhibition opens on Thursday, April 25th, and Kilmer’s artwork, celebrated for its emotional intensity and vibrant colors, will be on display all weekend. His work has received widespread acclaim and is in high demand among dedicated art collectors.

Val Kilmer

Additionally, Veronica Falcón will be awarded the Trailblazer Visionary Award during Saturday’s Awards at the New Mexico History Museum, which will conclude with a reception held in her honor.

Veronica Falcon

Festival Features

This year’s festival features an impressive range of films from across the globe. Highlighting the lineup is TILL LOVE DO US PART, the inaugural feature from Chinese director Ran Li. Italian film industry multi-talent Fabio Massa presents GLOBAL HARMONY, a drama rich in suspense and genuine societal insights. Further enhancing the festival’s international appeal, Japanese director Yuichiro Nakada will introduce his short film, GIFT, which delves into the cultural nuances between a distinct pair of characters.

Don’t miss the opportunity to see genuine depictions of our scenic homeland on film. The awe-inspiring landscapes of New Mexico, as interpreted by our local filmmakers, are truly enchanting. Enjoy the distinctive humor encapsulated in Tom Carroll’s THE STRESS IS KILLING ME, which follows a group of UNM graduates, now in their 40s, as they reunite in Albuquerque for a college reunion.

Immerse yourself in Brenden Wedner’s TALES OF THE FADED WEST and Mike Timm’s THE VALLEY OF HEART’S DELIGHT, each crafted by distinctly talented filmmakers. Don’t miss the charming and lively 1942-set wartime musical, ONLY HERE AND NOW by Raymond Singer, along with a deep dive into the American political landscape with Liza Asner’s IT ISN’T JUST POLITICS. In her first directorial effort, Asner, the daughter of late actor Ed Asner, tackles the complex issues of political polarization and explores possible resolutions. These films promise to engage and please audiences.

The Jean Cocteau, a beloved and long-standing festival venue, proudly reopens its doors after a meticulous renovation by George R. R. Martin, a famed cinephile, writer, and producer. This quaint 70-seat theater will not only showcase a selection of festival films but also house the Filmmakers Lounge, a vital hub for filmmakers from around the world to meet and interact with the press.

The refreshed Jean Cocteau theater will host the final screening of the festival, featuring Stephen Wallis’ THE MARTINI SHOT, produced with Russ De Jong and starring a notable cast including Matthew Modine, Derek Jacobi, John Cleese, Stuart Townsend, Fiona Glascott, Morgana Robinson, and Jason London. The film explores the life of Steve, a terminally ill director who attempts to create his last cinematic masterpiece. A festive closing night celebration will take place at the As Above So Below venue following the screening.

Matthew Modine

Festival activities will take place at several prestigious locations throughout Santa Fe, highlighting the city’s cultural offerings. These venues range from the Scottish Rite Temple Theater and the New Mexico History Museum to the restored Jean Cocteau Theater, Boxcar, Herve’s Wine Bar, the Edition One Gallery, The Crafted Tasting Room at Inn & Spa at Loretto, and Vara.

Santa Fe Film Festival Guests

With a roster of distinguished attendees like festival honorees Danny Trejo and Veronica Falcón, and past Lifetime Achievement recipient and Academy Award winner from the OPPENHEIMER cast, Matthew Modine, as well as artist Val Kilmer and animator Bill Plympton, this year’s lineup is exceptionally impressive. Make sure to experience this unique convergence of artistic genius.

Attendees can sample delicious local cuisine and drinks courtesy of festival sponsors like What the Truck, Casamigos, Sunora Bancora, Premiere Distributing Company and more.

This year the SFFF 24 will partner with and expand, taking many of the films to neighboring festivals in Los Alamos, Las Vegas and down the Rio Grande to TorC and Las Cruces.

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Why New Mexico?

New Mexico has been a key part of filmmaking since the first ‘short film’ entitled “Indian Day School” was shot by a crew sent by Thomas Edison in 1898. Filmmakers found that shooting in the light in our state added more drama, depth, and atmosphere to the story. Voted the best place to live for filmmakers, by MovieMaker Magazine, Santa Fe leads the charge of New Mexico’s growing film Industry, because of generous tax credits and partnerships with Universal, Netflix and others.

With a rich history in film, it’s not surprising that over 300 feature films from Westerns to Action genres and everything in between has been shot here since 1911. Select titles include 3:10 to Yuma, The Astronaut Farmer, Silverado, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, The Grapes of Wrath, Red Dawn, Independence Day, Young Guns, and Wild Wild West. Many of the films made here in New Mexico have had their premiere at the Santa Fe Film Festival.

In fact, over the years, the Santa Fe Film Festival has garnered international industry acclaim receiving submissions from all over the globe by bringing together distinguished industry professionals and film-lovers alike with the diverse categories of cinema. In the past, the Festival has screened thousands of features, documentaries and shorts, from 38 countries. This year promises to add to the luster and excitement of one of New Mexico’s shining stars of the entertainment industry. For more information, visit the Santa Fe Film Festival website.

This article was posted by David Salcido

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