Unless you are the President of the United States or someone with a ridiculously disposable income, you are unlikely to have a 3-D theater with a separate room, a balcony, or seating for more than you and a dog in your home. And if you are not the President or an Uber Film Aficionado, then you’re like me.
Or, you’re closer to me than those guys.
So, my argument goes, to see a film in a theater you gotta leave home. Because, and be honest, bundling up in a cozy blackened room with some corn and a friend watching a movie bigger than your house is great. It’s a cheap time machine, an inexpensive teleportation into your own consciousness for the duration of the flick. Mental space. A vacation.
And nothing makes holidays feel even more special than an event. A surfing contest or a county fair makes your whole time away feel like it was worth it. Like you got to be part of something new and different. And there’s nothing more new than enjoying a film festival in Santa Fe, the City Different.
Oh sure, you could stay home and watch a Blu-Ray on your 50-inch LCD HD in your hairy (if you have pets), cluttered (if you have stuff), noisy (if you have kids), dusty (if you live in New Mexico) living room (yes, or Man Cave). But IT’S NOT A VACATION. It’s not an event. It’s survival at best and avoidance at worst.
A film festival offers not just a one-shot-time-and-place to go for a quickie emotional vacay, it’s a way to feel immersed, smarter, and more engaged than maybe you have been all year. It’s a way to score bragging rights when a film like Juno pops up and sweeps the Academy Awards (btw, Juno preemed at the Santa Fe Film Festival in 2007), or Napoleon Dynamite sneaks in and defines who you really are (I know you have a “Vote for Pedro” T-shirt in your dresser). Films like these were initially film festival bows. And the people who saw them first felt like they had discovered gold before the hoards ever jumped on board. And, as Americans, it is our cultural duty to feel superior to our peers when it comes to knowing about cool stuff in the movies before they do.
A film festival in Santa Fe is something not to be missed. Especially in the fall.
The Santa Fe Film Festival is the wash-n-wear of these kinds of fests. We’re casual. We’re relaxed. We’re comfy worn leather cowboy boots. We’re in a stunningly gorgeous location (especially in the fall, did I mention?).
Even though New Mexico is “Tamalewood,” the second in command of great places to make films, we are not pretentious. We have film stars and producers, directors, writers and scores of other industry pros that call Santa Fe home. But we all shop at Whole Foods one aisle at a time without so much as a screaming autograph seeking meltdown.
When we have stars or big names at the Festival, they show up in jeans without their entourage. They answer questions like humans not divas. It’s the feeling at the Santa Fe Film Festival that not only are you witnessing something special, but you belong. It’s the funky ease of it all. Maybe it’s the mountain air or that the real stars in the heavens are closer here. I’m not sure, but the Santa Fe Film Festival really is something different.
I admit I’m a writer, so I spend time thinking about films, the craft of them, the heft of stories, the flow of scenes. A celluloid junkie of sorts. But it’s not what makes me enjoy film festivals. I go because of all that stuff above: I’m seeing ideas and places and stories that I wouldn’t see in the mainstream theaters (at least until they are discovered and go viral). I get to take my brain on a journey into something fresh and exciting. And bonus! I often get to listen to the creators tell their stories about how each film was conceived and produced. It’s an event. An encapsulated few precious days where I can geek out over and over watching films and filmmakers express a corner of our culture.
Don’t get me wrong. I also go for the Cherry Slushies. But that’s my version of a film festival vacation.
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Photo of Santa Fe producer-screenwriter Kirk Ellis on a Santa Fe Film Festival, 2010 panel by Gabriella Marks.
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