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Santa Fe Independent Film Festival

It's almost time for the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival 2018. The festival will once again serve as an instrument to connect filmmakers with New Mexico film lovers through showcasing world-class filmmaking.

The Santa Fe Independent Film Festival, better known as SFIFF and Santa Fe IFF, devotes itself to the nurture of creative, independent, cutting-edge cinema and the promotion films in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The festival screens features and shorts of all types, including narrative, documentary, international, and animated.

The festival takes place in the beautiful and historic city of Santa Fe, New Mexico. Events and screenings are held in several locations in the city, including the George RR Martin's Jean Cocteau Cinema, the Santa Fe Playhouse, the Lensic Performance Arts Center, The Screen, the Center for Contemporary Arts, and the 11-screen Violet Crown. These venues have helped make Santa Fe one of the greatest theater cities in the world.

Over the years, The Santa Fe Independent Film Festival has welcomed several A-list guests and honored their achievements in film.

Some of the famous attendees of the festival include Chris Eyre, George RR Martin, John Waters, Ethan Hawke, Rudolfo Anaya, Judy Blume, Alton Walpole, Kirby Dick, Aviva Farber, Tony Mark, Wes Studi, Gary Farmer, Jon Hendry, Digby Wolfe, Russell Means, the McManus Brothers, and many more. 

Examples of some of the popular films presented during the festival include Bless Me Ultima by Carl Franklin, Los Chidos by Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, Nancy, Please by Andrew Semans, Funeral Kings by Kevin and Matthew McManus, Taped by Diederik Van Rooijen, and many more. 

Santa Fe Independent Film Festival 2018
The Santa Fe Independent Film Festival celebrates its 10th anniversary this year.

One of the highlights of this year’s event is Bill Plympton being awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award. The festival will also host discussions and seminars with Tim Hunter, Bill Plympton, Danny Rubin, and Richard Matson.

Attendees will get to enjoy the Opening Night Toast and Party at the Violet Crown Cinema, and the Closing Day Reception and Party at the Gerald Peters Gallery and the La Boca, respectively.

The Opening Night will screen The Long Dumb Road, a New Mexico film that was a Sundance success, and the Closing Night will present the Palme d’ Or recipient film, Shoplifters.

Some of the features for this year's festival include All Creatures Here Below by Collin Schiffli, Burning by Chang-Dong Lee, Good Girls Get High by Laura Terruso, etc. 

The short film catalog is equally good. The festival will screen Broken Sidewalk by Aaron McPherson, Palaio Faliro by Kiki Shakti, The View from Up Here by Marco Calvani, and many more.

Festival History and Prestige
The Santa Fe Independent Film Festival was founded in 2009 by filmmakers Jacques Paisner and David Moore.

The inaugural festival in 2009 was held at a community center in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The event had 25 screenings and was attended by about 500 guests.

In 2010, the festival screened 80 films and lasted for 6 days. It was attended by 2,000 guests. Out of these films, 40 were international premieres which came from 12 different countries. Interestingly, the Santa Fe IFF chose to choose winners through an online ballot rather than a jury.

In 2011, the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival had over 2,500 attendees and 100 film screenings. The festival was attended by famous film celebrities such as Kirby Dick, Tony Mark, Digby Wolfe, and Alton Walpole. In the same year, Santa Fe IFF has also partnered with Milagro at Los Luceros, Robert Redford's production company.

In 2012, the festival was able to attract 5,000 attendees at the Lensic Performance Arts Theater for the New Mexico Premiere and Red Carpet Gala presentation of Bless Me Ultima, the film adaptation of Rudolfo Anaya's novel, and Judy Blume's Tiger Eyes.

In 2013, George RR Martin, the creator of Game of Thrones, reopened the Jean Cocteau Cinema, which became one of the main theater venues of the festival. In the same year, the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival was recognized by the MovieMaker Magazine as one of the "25 Coolest General Film Festivals in the World".

The festival kept growing and building its reputation all over the world. By 2014, it was able to welcome 10,000 guests. IndieWire Magazine also named Santa Fe IFF as a "young Sundance" that same year.

In 2015, the Violet Crown became one of the main venues of the festival. Santa Fe IFF also honored Gena Rowlands with the Lifetime Achievement Award during the event.

In 2017, the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival was acknowledged by the MovieMaker Magazine as one of the "50 Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee". The 2017 Festival offered a Q&A discussion with Ethan Hawke and recognized John Sayles and Maggie Renzi with the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Awards and Past Winners
The Santa Fe Independent Film Festival proudly presents the following juried awards and the most recent winners over the years.


Best Narrative Feature
2017- Pinsky, by Amanda Lundquist
2016- Le Dep, by Sonia Boileau

Best Documentary Feature
2017- For Ahkeem, by Jeremy Levine and Landon Van Soest
2016- Hotel Dallas, by Sherng-Lee Huang and Livia Ungur

Best New Mexico Narrative Feature
2017- Cortez, by Cheryl Nichols
2016- The General Specific, by Matthew Stanasolovich

Best New Mexico Documentary Feature
2017- Ol' Max Evans the First Thousand Years, by Lorene Mills, Paul Barnes, and David Leach
2016- Longshotsville, by Jody McNicholas

Audience Choice Best Documentary Feature
2017- The Shepherdess of the Glacier, by Stanzin Dorjai and Christiane Mordelet
2016- Learning to See: The World of Insects, by Jake Oelman

Audience Choice Best Narrative Feature Film
2017- Sami Blood, by Amanda Kernell
2016- To Keep the Light, by Erica Fae


Best New Mexico Narrative Short
2017- Beth is Not a Cat, by Christopher Michael Roybal
2016- Hummingbird and Crane, Veronica Rodriguez

Best New Mexico Documentary Short
2017- The Mustached American of the Year, by Anna Yeager and Peter Subaiya

Best U.S. Narrative Short
2017- Dekalb Elementary, by Reed Van Dyk
2016- I Used to be Famous, by Eddie Sternberg

Best International Narrative Short
2017- Ostoja Will Move Your Piano, by Sandra Mitrovic

Best Documentary Short
2017- The Forger, by Samantha Stark, Alexandra Garcia, and Pamela Duckerman
2016- Fairy Tales, by Rongfei Guo

Best Experimental Short
2017- In a Nutshell, by Fabio Friedli
2016- Shift, by Amanda Moran; Subotika: Land of Wonders, by Peter Volkart

Best Animated Short
2017- Negative Space, by Max Porter and Ru Kuwahata
2016- Adam, by Evelyn Jane Ross

Audience Choice Best Short
2017- The Whole World, by Julian Quintanilla

Aside from the Juried Awards, the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival also honors exemplary contributions to the film industry through the Lifetime Achievement Award. The most recent recipients of this award are John Sayles and Maggie Renzi (2017), Jacqueline Bisset (2016), and Gena Rowlands (2015).

By Aran Davies

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