Morning Word

Santa Fe Ranks #1 for Moviemaking

DA will announce “Rust” decision this morning

Santa Fe ranks #1 for moviemakers

Santa Fe is the best small city for movie makers to live and work, MovieMaker magazine announced yesterday. The number one ranking in the magazine’s annual report marks the first time Santa Fe has appeared in the top spot (last year, Santa Fe came in third). “Since the inception of the Santa Fe Film Office in 2016, the momentum of productions filmed in the Santa Fe region has been one record year after the next,” Santa Fe Film Office Executive Director Jennifer LaBar-Tapia said in a statement. “Our continued growth of local resources and diverse locations are a huge draw for independent films, documentaries, commercials, television, streaming series, and feature films.” MovieMaker magazine Editor Tim Molloy offered his own congratulations in a statement, saying: “I’m so excited for people to see Santa Fe at the top and recognize what an amazing community has been created, with the familiarity of a small-town and all the options in the world.” Las Cruces appeared on the list for the first time this year as number seven in the smaller cities and town category. And, for the fifth consecutive year, Albuquerque also showed up high on the big cities list, but after four years slipped from first place to fifth. “Together, Albuquerque and Santa Fe form a film corridor known for inspiration, charm, inclusiveness and abundant tax incentives,” Molloy said. “New Mexico is thriving as a film capital, and we especially appreciate its efforts to train locals to join this thriving industry. We can’t wait to see the stories they’ll tell in the coming years.” According to a news release, MovieMaker compiles its annual list based on surveys, production spending, tax incentives, additional research, and personal visits, whenever possible.

DA to announce Rust decision this morning

Speaking of movies, First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies said yesterday her office will announce her decision about whether to press charges in the 2021 Santa Fe County film-set shooting that killed cinematographer Halayna Hutchins and wounded Director Joel Souza. Carmack-Altwies and special prosecutor Andrea Reeb will announce their decision at 9 am today via a written statement that will be shared with the media and the public. No news conference or public appearances by Carmack-Altwies or the special prosecutor will be held. “Regardless of the District Attorney’s decision, the announcement will be a solemn occasion, made in a manner keeping with the office’s commitment to upholding the integrity of the judicial process and respecting the victim’s family,” First Judicial District spokesperson Heather Brewer said in a statement. In early October, Rust Movie Productions settled a wrongful death lawsuit with Hutchins’ husband Matthew Hutchins, who announced the movie would resume production elsewhere. A few weeks later, the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Department turned over its 500-plus page investigative report to the DA’s office. An administrative complaint against Rust Productions by the state environment department’s Occupational Health and Safety Review Commission—which the movie company has appealed—remains pending, with a hearing scheduled for April 2023.

Political shooting suspect appears in court

“There are no conditions of release that will keep the community safe,” from Solomon Pena, prosecutors wrote in a pre-trial motion requesting Pena, accused of masterminding a plot to shoot at elected officials’ homes, be held until trial. The 39-year-old appeared yesterday in court for the first time since his arrest on Monday. He has been charged with paying four men to shoot at the homes of two county commissioners and two state legislators—all Democrats—and police say he was present for at least one of the shootings. Pena declared himself a “Maga King” on Twitter, and refused to concede his own loss in last November’s election when he ran on the Republican ticket for House District 14. “Pena’s “actions show what lengths he is willing to go when he is dissatisfied with reality,” the pre-trial detention motion argues. A public safety assessment for Pena indicates he qualifies for release before trial, prompting pushback from Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina, who said in a statement the assessment served as “yet another example…of why the criminal justice system is broken…While I realize the judicial assessment is just one tool that judges can consider, I believe that tool is fatally flawed.” Proposed changes to the state’s pre-trial detention that would shift the burden to the defendant emerged in last year’s legislative session and are expected to be part of the criminal reform discussion during this year’s session as well. As for Pena, as the Albuquerque Journal reports, Bernalillo Metropolitan Court Judge Jill Martinez determined Pena would be held until a detention hearing, the date for which has not yet been determined.

Despite improvements, families face pandemic hardships

The COVID-19 pandemic “has been hard on New Mexico’s children and families,” advocacy group New Mexico Voices for Children says, but data tracking child well-being shows “no significant declines—and even some slight improvements,” likely as a result of “federal and state pandemic relief as well as policy changes made at the state level.” That take-away comes via the Annie E. Casey Foundation-funded 2022 New Mexico KIDS COUNT Data Book, released yesterday. “New Mexico’s governor and Legislature have made several policy changes that will benefit New Mexico’s children and families long after the pandemic,” NM Voices for Children Executive Director Amber Wallin says in a statement. “The creation and increase of many tax credits that benefit kids and families, the expansion of child care assistance, paid sick leave, and the extension of postpartum health care through Medicaid are just some of the recently enacted policies that set New Mexico apart and will improve child well-being moving forward.” Some areas of improvement in New Mexico include: pre-school enrollment; high school graduation; and teen birth rates. However, New Mexico children continue to face challenges in the areas of poverty and food insecurity. Some of those challenges may steepen as the additional allotments available under the federal Supplemental Assistance Nutrition Program end in February. According to the state Human Services Department, those changes will impact 516,537 New Mexicans. Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. David Scrase, state Medicaid Director Nicole Comeaux, The Food Depot Executive Director Sherry Hooper and several other state officials will discuss the SNAP changes during a news conference at 1 pm today that will stream live on the HSD Facebook page and with Spanish translation on Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s YouTube page.

COVID-19 by the numbers

Reported Jan. 18New cases: 189; 662,967 total cases. Deaths: six; Santa Fe County has had 385 total deaths; 8,902 total fatalities statewide. Statewide hospitalizations: 71. Patients on ventilators: five

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s most recent Jan. 12 “community levels” map shows two counties (versus one last week) categorized as “yellow”—medium risk—for COVID-19: De Baca and Hidalgo. The rest of the state—including Santa Fe County—is green, aka has low risk. Corresponding recommendations for each level can be found here.

Resources: Receive four free at-home COVID-19 tests per household via; Check availability for additional free COVID-19 tests through Project ACT; CDC interactive booster eligibility tool; NM DOH vaccine & booster registration; CDC isolation and exposure interactive tool; COVID-19 treatment info; NMDOH immunocompromised tool kit. People seeking treatment who do not have a medical provider can call NMDOH’s COVID-19 hotline at 1-855-600-3453. DOH encourages residents to download the NM Notify app and to report positive COVID-19 home tests on the app.

You can read all of SFR’s COVID-19 coverage here.

Listen up

SFR debuts the Leaf Brief podcast this week, hosted by SFR staff writer Andy Lyman, former co-host of the award-winning Growing Forward podcast. The first episode features Northern New Mexico College Associate Professor Mateo Frazier, who teaches in the school’s cannabis and hemp program, and knows a great deal about the industry and its relationship to water in Northern New Mexico.

True that

Travel industry news site Skift delves into the “magic and mistakes” of New Mexico Tourism Department’s “New Mexico True” campaign, which the state enacted more than a decade ago. On the one hand, visitor traffic to New Mexico has increased by 30% over the last two years, partly thanks to the campaign, Skift says. On the other hand, “New Mexico True” has “received pushback for allegedly articulating colonial ideologies. Stakeholders and advocacy groups have concerns about using certain language and imagery throughout the campaign—and the state’s overall relationship with tourism.” For example, a 30-second version of a 2021 TV campaign was criticized for using this Georgia O’Keeffe quote: “When I got to New Mexico, that was mine. As soon as I saw it, that was my country. I’d never seen anything like it before, but it fitted to me exactly.” The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum objected to the ad, describing the language as that of “possession, colonization and erasure,” whereas Indigenous activist group Three Sisters Collective made a version of the ad that spotlit news headlines about gentrification and the like. Tourism Secretary Jen Paul Schroer revamped the New Mexico True campaign in 2021 to have more of a focus on storytelling, she tells Skift and, while the O’Keeffe ad sparked outrage, the story notes the department often features native artists in its campaigns. “We are better communicating what we do locally because most of our ads run out of state,” Schroer says. “Locals might see a 30-second clip without grasping the full body of work.”

Slow burn

January may be a mite early to think about next summer, unless you’re thinking about the event of the summer, aka the 99th Burning of Zozobra, which takes place on Sept. 1, 2023. Event organizers The Kiwanis Club of Santa Fe yesterday announced its 2023 call for artists to design the official adult and youth posters and T-shirt images as the Zozobra Decades Project heads into its final year and the eras of the 2000s and 2010s. “Everyone in New Mexico wants to be a part of the Zozobra festivities,” Zozobra Event Chair Ray Sandoval says in a statement. “What better way to share the celebration than an art contest for New Mexico artists, the young and the young at heart, to create their vision of Santa Fe’s favorite icon for our official 2023 adult and student posters and t-shirts? When Zozobra encounters the talent of New Mexico’s amazing artists, the results are guaranteed to be incredible!” You’ll find the rules for entering any of the four categories and can submit your artwork here; keep in mind entries that incorporate the 2000s-2010s theme “will be privileged.” Check out some past images of Zozobra artwork here (“Zozobra Not Even” by Mike Graham De La Rosa was our personal favorite from last year’s art show). All artwork must be received by 5 pm, Friday, March 17; do not post your artwork on social media or to the public in any way prior to judging or your work will be disqualified.


Bundle up! The National Weather Service forecasts a mostly sunny day with a high temperature near 35 degrees and wind chill values as low as zero. North wind 5 to 15 mph will become southwest in the afternoon. We may see some more snow tomorrow as another storm system enters the state.

Thanks for reading! The Word has been entertained for longer than reasonable by the “Chorizo Me Crazy” Twitter thread.

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