Having evolved from a rather unimpressive film festival (or perhaps the more appropriate term would be ‘marathon’) with 25 screenings for an audience of only 500, the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival (SFIFF) has grown into the highest attended festival in the state of New Mexico. Taking place, as the name suggests, in Santa Fe every October, the festival is a celebration of artistic creativity and independent cinema from all over the world.
Shooting for the Stars
Started in 2009 by two local filmmakers – Jacques Paisner and David Moore – the SFIFF wasn’t, strictly speaking, very international at the time. The main goal of the event was to promote local independent cinema and serve as a platform for bridging the gap between low-budget filmmakers and audiences that may be interested in their works.
The first festival was a great success, and in its second year in 2010, the SFIFF already screened 80 films over 6 days, with afterparties raging 5 of those nights. Since then, the festival has evolved exponentially, gaining support from local businesses and theatres, as well as attracting larger audiences with every year. Some note that what started as an appreciation of local talent has quickly turned into a large-scale success of true film talent in the international arena, not unlike the evolution of the Sundance Festival.
More Talent, Larger Audiences
Over the years, the festival has expanded its film categories, attracting filmmakers from all over the world, promoting diversity and expanding on schools of thought and filmmaking showcased during the festival. Among other things, the festival is known for screening unusually long features up to 4 ½ hours in length, even though the festival organizers say that even this limit is not set in stone. In 2013, over 100 films were screened in the following categories:
- Narrative Features
- Narrative Shorts up to 44 minutes in length
- Animated films
- International films
- New Mexican films originating from or filmed in New Mexico
Throughout the festival, the audiences are treated with great parties, discussions and special events featuring such stars as Tony Mark, Kirby Dick, George R.R. Martin and others. Consequently, the SFIFF has earned the reputation of a fully immersive event that feels more like an all-inclusive vacation program rather than a film festival. It’s no wonder the festival’s organizers expect to double their audience this year!