Four years strong, Santa Fe's independent film fête aims to hold leading-man status by bringing in celebrated festival darlings.

One such film is the McManus brothers-directed Funeral Kings, which follows the misadventures of a trio of altar boys on funeral duty—a huge hit at SXSW.

Much has been said about both limitations and incentives to the statewide film industry via New Mexico's own starlet Gov. Susana Martinez, but one thing's for sure: if the SFIFF can prove that it's worthy of a marquee role, the sky is the limit for the Santa Fe film scene.

The burning question: Alongside the more mainstream Santa Fe Film Festival, why shouldn't SFIFF become a premier festival? For starters, we are one of the most screen-ready cities in America (proof positive is that Breaking Bad is shot only 45 minutes away from us). You wanna talk big box office? Newly adopted Comanche Johnny Depp will surely wow worldwide audiences next summer in the locally shot The Lone Ranger.

Stakes are high for this installment of SFIFF—last year's edition screened 100 films in the course of five days, drawing more than 2,500 attendees and living up to its mission statement of supporting "a vibrant and sustainable filmmaking future in New Mexico by showcasing the latest talent in independent films both local and global."

This year, Gary Farmer is set to host the awards ceremony right after the Funeral Kings showing, and will be joined by director Chris Eyre to discuss his opus, Smoke Signals.

Farmer is excited about the future of the local cinematic showcase.

"We've been working at it for a few years, for it to become a viable festival," he tells SFR. "It's still a young festival. We have a great bunch of people. We need to keep the people together and have more [monetary] support for it to become larger."

Also present will be famed young-teen-lit writer and former Santa Fean Judy Blume, to promote her son Lawrence's new film, Tiger Eyes, based on the book of the same name.

"After growing up in Santa Fe and then returning 25 years later to direct a film so close to my heart, I am absolutely thrilled to be screening Tiger Eyes at the SFIFF," the younger Blume says. "It's our first screening of the film in New Mexico, and we're looking forward to seeing all the local cast and crew members at the Lensic."

Apparently, the only thing stopping SFIFF from becoming a mainstream festival is us.

"It's about bringing something different to New Mexico," festival director Liesette Paisner says. "It's about expanding it into more than just a film festival; it's about bringing the community together."

So bring an open mind—along with some popcorn money—and get ready to enjoy the show. Our town thrives on the notion of supporting local products; why should our approach to movies be any different?

Santa Fe Independent Film Festival: Times vary, Wednesday-Sunday, Oct. 17-21. $10-$100. The Lensic Performing Arts Center, 211 W San Francisco St., 988-1234