Santa Fe captured the visual imagination of artistic types early on and movie cameras swiftly fell under New Mexico’s spell. Just imagine Errol Flynn and Ronald Reagan making their way west – onscreen – along the fabled road whose destination is Santa Fe. From the past to the present, New Mexico has been a dramatic draw for filmmakers of all stripes and our film scene is booming.
Turn on the Telly to see Santa Fe Shine
Santa Fe has been earning its TV cred via Longmire, the A&E weekly western based on the best-selling books by Craig Johnson. New Mexico made an ideal stand-in for the books’ Wyoming setting, and although the series suffered a sudden summer cancellation, fans mounted a Twitter “stampede” in hopes of a revival. More proof that Santa Fe is a favored site comes from Manhattan. This exciting series, now airing on WGN, was created around actual events closer to home – the birth of the nuclear bomb at Los Alamos, a.k.a. the Manhattan Project. Albuquerque continues to build on its Breaking Bad years with a new spinoff, and celebrity sightings will likely continue.
Film Fans Get Their Festival Fix
With its vibrant film and TV industry, a town like ours is a film festival natural. And given Santa Fe’s quirky personality, the line-up in the Oct. 15-19 Santa Fe Independent Film Festival is sure to feature the best indie film debuts of the year. This year, 60 feature films and a raft of shorts (debuting on Wed. night with all New Mexican short films) will be screened at venues all over town. Fascinating discussions with film-world luminaries are interspersed between screenings, and it all culminates with a closing night party at the historic Dragon Room of the Pink Adobe – now that’s a wrap!
If one film festival is good, more is better! The January Santa Fe Film Festival’s New Mexico Filmmakers Showcase awaits us in 2015. Santa Fe even has a truly City Different festival targeted to a very unique genre – the Santa Fe Jewish Film Festival’s year-round roster has featured fascinating film fare since its 2010 origins. Their new season, opening Oct. 12, includes a first for Santa Fe: The Chosen: A Mini-Festival of New Israeli Cinema, a November Israeli film festival complete with directors’ interviews. In addition, February 2015 brings a set of fresh, intriguing Italian cinema treasures to Santa Fe – grazie, Italian Film Festival!
Independent Cinema Has a Home – or Two – in Santa Fe
Festival time or not, Santa Fe always exhibits a case of movie mania. Our movie-mad town boasts more than one indie theater for parking with a pal and a box of popcorn. The Cocteau’s calendar includes screenings of the old, new and quirky with intimate conversations with film-makers, authors, artists and performers. If you want to toast your leading lady, the Jean Cocteau Cinema is on tap with mixed drinks, beer, wine and mead (a humorous nod to theater owner/author George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones fame) and savory snacks.
And if you want to view with a brew, head for Brew and View screenings at Duel Brewery – yes, movies in a Belgian brew pub, with a mix of local films, indie treats and thoughtful documentaries screened every other Sunday. I’m a sucker for craft beer, especially when it’s accompanied by the wellspring of craft on display in films making their first appearance in Santa Fe.
Years of movie-going have enthralled me at the CCA Cinematheque, and I bet I saw George R. R. Martin as a local movie buff before I read his books. CCA has treated film fans to a collection of first-runs, award-winning foreign films and oddball offerings for as long as I can remember. The big and beautiful screen and stellar sound system are the anti-multiplex experience. And the ample gallery space is a big plus, with exhibitions that showcase regional and national contemporary artists.
Legendary actress Greer Garson left her mark onscreen in the past; in the present it comes via her dedicated support of the Santa Fe University of Art and Design (formerly College of Santa Fe). Her post-film life in northern New Mexico resulted in a generous legacy that created the Garson Studios and made year-round film-making a reality. One soundstage retrofitted into a quality venue became The Screen, a theater space right on campus that thrills film students and locals alike with consistent, intriguing programming.
See Santa Fe in Full Color on the Big Screen
Now that summer’s active outdoor days are behind us, I say it’s time to settle inside for some adventurous autumn film fun. Santa Fe definitely has more than one top-drawer temptation flickering in the wings. I promise I’ll save you a seat!