As we enter the eighth year of the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival (SFIFF), it’s worth taking a moment to note just how far the annual event has come. Founded by siblings Jacques and Lisette Paisner and their friend David Moore in 2008, SFIFF has grown from a modest yet impressive slate of films to five powerhouse days jam-packed with 43 feature-length movies and 70 shorts screened across town at venues like the Jean Cocteau Cinema, Violet Crown, The Screen and more.
“We had a really big growth in 2012, which was the first year we had more than 5,000 attendees,” Jacques says, “and then in 2014 and 2015 we had over 10,000, and we’re expecting around the same again.”
Attendees can catch anything from low-budget indies and documentaries to locally produced shorts and exciting features with big-name stars. SFIFF also boasts panels with industry vets, awards ceremonies plus plenty of parties and lots of other fun surprises. Since it would be impossible to see everything SFIFF has to offer, we caught up with the Paisners to get their don’t-miss picks. Visit santafeindependentfilmfestival.com for a full schedule. (Alex De Vore)
No Light and No Land AnywhereWe reviewed this film in this very issue (see page 33), and both Paisners say it’s at the top of their list this year. The story of a young woman attempting to reconnect with her father after her mother dies, No Light comes to us from New Mexico-raised filmmaker Amber Sealey and was produced by Me and You and Everyone We Know scribe Miranda July. Early buzz says it’s a challenging film, but well worth the effort. “We’re super-stoked that [Amber Sealey] is going to be here,” Jacques says.
When it comes to abortion laws, the state of Mississippi is so far behind the times it’s horrifying. Jackson is a portrait of the the sole remaining abortion clinic in the state. “It’s really powerful to see what’s happening with women’s health down there,” Lisette tells SFR. “In a lot of cases, what these healthcare providers have to legally tell their patients are lies—it’s really scary, but it’s also a beautiful story.” Director Maisie Crow has worked in pretty much every behind-the-camera position, and her first full-length documentary is poised to be one of the most talked-about entries in the fest.
Hotel Dallas“In Romania in the 1980s, the only TV show that they had was Dallas, and it was used as this propaganda thing to show how evil capitalism is,” Jacques says. “But it totally backfired, and created all these fans of the show and of capitalism and this whole new subculture of young Romanian businessmen who loved the show.” For most Americans, this probably seems laughable, but Hotel Dallas examines the effect of the soap on the European nation’s men who embraced capitalism and the women who wanted desperately to emigrate to America.
My Life as a Film
Swiss filmmaker Eva Vitija- Scheidegger’s father worked as a film and television director, so it’s not entirely surprising that his home movies took a more professional tone than most people’s. “She took all this footage he shot and cut it into a film, and it kind of crescendoes when [Eva] comes to Santa Fe, where her mom lives, to show her this rought cut of the movie,” Jacques says. “They’re like no home movies you’ve ever seen.” My Life as a Film has been showing prominently at film festivals internationally, and we really love the local angle. For most of us, home movies are an embarrassing trip down memory lane; for Vitija-Scheidegger, it’s not only a means of artistic expression, but a creative and meaningful chance to feel connected with her father and their shared career trajectory.