October 15, 2013 at 2:09 PM

Indian Summer Indies, Indeed

"Now is the time of the fifth annual Santa Fe Independent Film Festival (SIFFF), Oct. 16-20"

By Casey St. Charnez

Media Rare

Casey St. Charnez has been video editor for Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide since 1986 and buyer for Lisa Harris' Video Library since 1981. He likes Lisa, cats, crosswords, and the Metropolitan Opera, probably in that order.


The leaves are changing, falling. Piñon smoke wafts with the breeze. Halloween is everywhere. And, of course, the indies are unspooling.

For now is the time of the fifth annual Santa Fe Independent Film Festival (SIFFF), Oct. 16-20, at the Lensic, the Cocteau, The Screen, and the CCA. Everywhere except Regal.

Note: This is so very definitely not the Santa Fe Film Festival, newly moved from December to next May.

No, the SIFFF is the Brooklyn to the May fest’s Manhattan, the NY City Opera to the Met. Independent film is not about the studios; it’s about the movies.

Of the more than 100 titles and events screening and happening over the five days and nights, here are but a few highlights I’d like to bring to your attention.

Now, please be aware this isn’t at all comprehensive. There’s much, much more. You’ll find SantaFe.com’s coverage here, while the SIFFF’s own Web site is here. These links will light your way in figuring out what and who is where.

The #1 must-see, in my opinion, is Tapia, a new Albuquerque-made documentary by Eddie Alcazar about—who else?—everyone’s favorite tragic boxing hero, the late Johnny Tapia. The Lensic screening Thursday evening will be full of laughs and tears, guaranteed.

A close second has to be Ass Backwards on Sunday at the CCA. a female buddy-buddy comedy, pretty starry for an indie, with Alicia Silverstone, Bob Odenkirk, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jon Cryer, and other people I’ve heard of.

The third biggie is Friday night’s Sweetwater, a western revenge thriller shot in Abiquiu and Santa Fe with Mad Men’s January Jones and the ever-reliable Ed Harris.

And I haven’t even mentioned all the cool ancillary stuff.

Like John Waters’ return to Santa Fe (he shot Lust in the Dust here nearly 30 years ago) in a performance of his one-man show “This Filthy World.” That’s Saturday night, also at the Lensic.

Or SFUAD film department honcho Chris Eyre’s reading of a new script Saturday afternoon at the Jean Cocteau, which also has an appearance by George R.R. Martin Sunday afternoon.

More? Certainly…

John Nichols signs books Sunday afternoon.

Rouge Cat has a late-night dance party Friday.

Joan Torres hosts a writing lab at CCA Friday morning.


From past experience, I know that film fests are immersive, like being on another planet for a few days. The parties, the celebs, the genuine film buffs and the fawning sycophants, all add up to an experience that’s unique every year.

Granted, it may be hard to find a ticket at this stage. After all, SIFFF says it had over 5,000 attendees last year. But you can hope, with good probability, that you’ll hear of unscheduled repeat screenings, or find people re-selling their own purchases in front of the theaters, maybe even some SRO, if you’re lucky. It all depends on the want-to-see of the movie and on theater occupancy fire laws.

See you in line? Yeah, probably.