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AFME continues: films, music, heroin awareness, spiritual inspirations, and more

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PART II

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During the second half of the 8 day festival of the Albuquerque Film and Media Experience, the variety of presentations continues to unfold. There is so much going on, I decided to write Part II (covering June 5 and 6) and Part III (June 7 and 8) to provide more information about the many incredible events.

AFME Board member S. S. Gurubachan Singh Khalsa summarized succinctly the overall theme of this event at a June 4 press conference:

"This film festival is to wake you up, to move you, to inspire you...who you are and how you relate to everyone else."

Indeed, this 8 day event truly is an experience.

THURSDAY, JUNE 5

June 5 events begin with a 10:00 am panel discussion on technology, visual and special effects and then a 1:30 pm panel on cinematography, both at the Hotel Cascada.

A spiritual series of films being screened opens at the Guild at 1:30 pm with "The Collective Evolution III: The Shift." A third part in a series of documentaries from Canada, this film explores using different levels of consciousness to understand our world and changes that are happening. It is paired with "What if in This Life," a short about a homeless man given a unique opportunity.

If one is looking for a bit more grit, check out "Dogs on the Inside" at 2 pm at the KiMo. This is a moving documentary about inmates who work with abandoned dogs, giving hope to both. If only more prisons offered redemptive opportunities such as this one in Massachusetts. If you can't see the film, check out this link for the trailer and more.

Over at the Vanity Makeup Studio in Nob Hill from 2-4 pm, you can join the Intimate Conversation with Emily Katz to learn her techniques for expressing inner and outer beauty. If instead you'd like to hear from Federico Castelluccio (known, in part, for his role as Furio on "The Sopranos"), head over to the Hotel Casada from 3 - 5 pm to listen to the discussion between him and Joshua Michael Stern on his work behind the camera.

Prefer to watch a documentary "Karen Black: On Acting"? Then head over to the Guild at 4 pm to watch this insightful exchange between Black and director Russell Brown captured on film less than a year before she died of cancer.

Later that day and evening, there is a documentary about chocolate-making, "Bean to Bar," paired with a narrative short about a young boy and his pet ferret, "The Magic Ferret." They screen beginning at 4 pm at the KiMo.

Then there is the story of Johnny Tapia, a world champion boxer who struggled with addiction. It is told in the documentary,"Tapia," playing at 6 pm at the KiMo.

The second and third in the series of Indian films screen beginning at 6 pm at the Guild. Both are documentaries. "Where the Darkness Has to Run" follows the lives of three people seeking spiritual answers in India. What are they truly looking for? "Hearts in the Himalayas" focuses on Himalayan Health Care, a humanitarian organization that travels into a remote area to bring health care to those who otherwise would have none. Check out this link on the isolated regions where these amazing workers go.

Then, after those two films conclude, at 8:30 pm at the Guild, Spike Lee fans can enjoy seeing "Do the Right Thing" on the big screen again. It's hard to believe that it has been 25 years since this film was first released.

Back at the Kimo, darkness pervades in the world premiere of "Dead Billy," screening at 9 pm. The world of Calliope Girard turns upside down at a precise moment when she should be experiencing joy and looking forward to her future. It is paired with a narrative short, "The Love Remains," another film about unwanted memories.

The after party that evening is at O’Niell’s in Nob Hill from 10:00 p.m. – 1:00 a.m.

FRIDAY, June 6

The morning of June 6, there are two panel discussions. At 10 am, documentaries and their social impact are discussed. At noon, there's a panel on the significance of music in film. Both are at the Hotel Cascada.

Films begin at 2 pm at the Kimo, with "Blaze You Out" paired with "Running Deer," a short. "Blaze You Out," the first in the fest's Taylor's Calling Heroin Awareness and Education series. A young woman wants to save her sister's life but to do so she must enter the world of drug dealers and hustlers. Here's a link to the trailer. In "Running Deer," a Native American runner faces more obstacles the day before an important race than any runner should have to face. Above is a trailer for "Running Deer."

At the Guild at 2 pm there is "Forever Your Love," a beautifully shot film about a father, his daughter, and a spiritual journey he must embark on to make sense of his past.

Also at 2 pm, but at the Lobo Theatre, is another Irish film, "No Limbs No Limits." This uplifting documentary tells the story of Joanne O'Riordan, a young woman born without all four limbs. The human spirit shines. Here is the trailer.

At 4 pm at the Guild, "Going Attractions: The Definitive Story of the American Drive-In Movie" plays. These theaters thrived in the 50s, and thereafter began their slow decline. You can celebrate this kitschy culture while watching this documentary.

If you prefer an Intimate Conversation with Sharon Lawrence, head over to the Hotel Cascada at 4 pm. There, a talk will ensue moderated by another well-respected and accomplished actor, Annika Marks.

Back at the Lobo Theater at 4:30 pm, the AFME Shorts program screens with four different films. Beginning the Jewish film series is "Dig," the story of a Holocaust survivor who finds the Nazi responsible for his family's death. "Ensemble" is based on the true story of an Imam in Paris who protected Jewish children who were escaping from the Nazis. "Who's Afraid of the Big Black Wolf," is set in occupied Central Europe and tells the tale of an encounter between those on opposite sides of the war, a shepherd and two army officers. Finally, "This Song is Old" screens, a short that follows Sam Pfeffer as a travels great distances to delivery the Torah to the Bnei Menasche, people who say they are descendants of one of the lost tribes of Israel.

At 6:30 pm at the Guild, another series of shorts plays. "Bipolar-A Narrative of Manic Depression" is an experimental short telling via split screen the story of Andrew Gony. Isa has received death threats from his father and uncle, who are homophobic, in "Red Moon." "Stranded in Kabul" focuses on one Afghan planning an escape as the troops prepare their withdrawal. Animated short "The Orphan and the Polar Bear" is an Inuit tale passed down by storytelling generation after generation. When a man awakens confused, bedraggled and bloodied, only torn pages from a diary give him a clue about what happened in "Too Alone."

At 7 pm at the Kimo, "Los Wild Ones" takes us into the world of Reb Kennedy, his label - Wild Records - and the young Hispanic musicians who write and perform 1950s style rock and roll. Bonds are tight and they all struggle through the ups and downs of the music business and its changes. The website gives more information on these musicians, who form their own unique family. (Note that the after party June 6 is a Wild Records concert.)

If, instead, you prefer a less musical and more internalized experience, the Lobo Theater at 7:00 pm is featuring "Healing the Mind: The Synthesis of Ayurveda and Western Psychiatry." The intent of this film is to inspire people to look within themselves and take care of their own healing.

The Taylor's Calling Heroin Awareness and Education series continues at 9pm with "Trainspotting," starring Ewan McGregor who opens the film with a scene that may indelibly remain with you forever (despite his later roles and much more pleasant imagery in "Velvet Goldmine," "Star Wars-Episode I: The Phantom Menace," "Moulin Rouge," and others). It is paired with "Dark Day Light On," a short about underage prostitution.

On a much lighter note at 9 pm at the Lobo Theater, A Night of Comedy & Poetry features Steven Michael Quezada (of "Breaking Bad") and Michael Jordan for comedy along with Hakim Bellamy, Hawah, and A'sha Gardner for poetry. Other surprise guests are promised at this fundraising event for the AFME Foundation and Youth Development, Inc.

The after party is at Imbibe Nob Hill, a Wild Records outdoor concert from 9pm til midnight.

Check out the AFME website for all the details. Here is a link about info for tickets (which range from single event tickets, to day passes, to an all-access pass).

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