Celebrating its fifth season, the Santa Fe Film Festival returns Dec. 1-5 with its largest slate ever – presenting 196 features, documentaries and shorts from 34 different countries around the globe.
“We not only saw more films, the quality of the films submitted has improved dramatically,” said Jon Bowman, executive director of the Santa Fe Film Festival. “It’s a sure sign that our festival is coming of age, and coming to be valued by filmmakers far and wide as a vital showcase for their work.”
Screening in the festival will be Jessica Yu’s “In the Realms of the Unreal”, a look at the life of outsider artist and janitor Henry Darger, and “Tell Them Who You Are”, filmmaker Mark Wexler’s examination of his relationship with his father, Oscar-winning cinematographer Haskell Wexler (“Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”, “Bound for Glory”).
The festival also offers an advance glimpse of Niels Mueller’s “The Assassination of Richard Nixon”, reuniting Sean Penn and Naomi Watts from last year’s “21 Grams”, and the French import “A Very Long Engagement”, bringing together the writer/director (Jean-Pierre Jeunet) and star (Audrey Tautou) from “Amelie”.
Among its 88 offerings, the festival has secured the U.S. premieres of new works by Alfonso Arau (“Like Water for Chocolate”) and Thomas Riedelsheimer (“Rivers and Tides”). Arau, who will receive the festival’s Luminaria Award for lifetime achievement, will unveil his epic “Zapata”, while Riedelsheimer will be represented by “Touch the Sound”, a documentary profile of percussionist Evelyn Glennie.
Other festival highlights include screenings of the past two winners of the Un Certain Regard award from the Cannes Film Festival – Ousmane Sembene’s “Moolaade”, this year’s winner from Senegal, and Marco Tullio Giordana’s 400-minute epic, “Best of Youth”, from Italy, the 2003 winner.
Screenings are planned at nine Santa Fe venues, anchored by the Lensic Performing Arts Center, the festival’s flagship hall for galas of such forthcoming titles as “Beyond the Sea”, “The Merchant of Venice”, and “A Very Long Engagement”.
Other participating venues this season include: the Center for Contemporary Arts, Cinemacafe, DeVargas, El Museo Cultural, James A. Little Theatre at the New Mexico School for the Deaf, Santa Fe Community Playhouse, Santuario de Guadalupe and The Screen at the College of Santa Fe.
Simultaneously, the festival will offer a series of film-related panel discussions at the Awakening Museum, and daily parties and receptions at galleries and clubs throughout the city.
Topics for this year’s panel discussions include “The Pickup Game,” zeroing in on how films get acquired for theatrical distribution and televised broadcasts, and “Movie Rights – and Wrongs,” delving into the legal issues that surround film production.
For more info, visit the Santa Fe Film Festival website.