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AFME's last two days, June 7 and June 8, are extraordinary!


AFME poster on Simms Building
Lindsay Waite

As was said at the press conference June 4, the Albuquerque Film and Media Experience is not just a film festival. It truly is a film experience. From films, to panels, to intimate conversations, to music that rises out of and relates to some of the films, there is remarkable variety plus a large number of events to experience these last two days. Saturday is chock full of dozens of amazing activities and mid-day is the time at the Hotel Cascada to focus in on a serious issue that exists everywhere - heroin addiction. Overall there is a theme of personal growth and transformation. That is what unifies this event.


Saturday’s programming begins early at the Hotel Cascada. There are three panel discussions. The first begins at 9 am and the subject is casting. At 11:30 am, the discussion is about - and presented by - women in film and television. At 1:30 pm, the talk is about "the Hollywood point of view” and how economics and changing times are affecting the film and television industries.

For those seeking a more meditative experience in the early hours, join S.S. Gurubachan Singh Khalsa at 10 am at the Kimo for Breathe in order to learn several new breathing techniques and become invigorated.

At The Guild beginning at 11.30 am, a documentary - “A Different Kind of Farm” - is presented about the world’s first seahorse farm, built by Carol and Craig Schmarr. Their goal is to save this unique creature and educate the public on the growing loss of so much from the world’s reefs. Here is a preview of that film. This is paired with “Moving from Emptiness: The Life and Art of a Zen Dude,” a film focused on the work and beliefs of Zen calligraphic painter Alok Hsu Kwang-han and his fellow artist Raylene Abbott.

From 1 to 5 pm at the Cascada Ballroom there is a free event to share support, education and reform on issues related to heroin addiction. Entitled “TAYLOR’S CALLING: AFME Foundation’s Heroin Awareness and Education Program,” it is named after Taylor Michael Schaffel (nephew of co-founder Lainie S. Quirk and only child of AFME’s director of photography Larry Michaels and Kim Taylor). He died last year, three weeks before the launch of the first AFME. This event is for all affected by the heroin epidemic. Here is a link to more information on the events from 1 to 5 pm.

This heroin awareness event includes assistance for those who need it, music of Kady Bow, and several films. At 2 pm at the Hotel Cascada Theater you can watch “Cold Turkey,” and unblinking look at heroin withdrawal, and “The Hopper,” a clay animation short about two young men as they rob a stash house. At 5 pm, the documentary “No Exceptions” plays. This documentary is about the dangers of pain killers (opioids) and is targeted to students, parents, and educators.

Meanwhile, at 2 pm the KiMo, you can catch two paired films. “Tapia,” which screened earlier in the week, is a documentary about Johnny Tapia, a world champion boxer who struggled with addiction. Here’s a link to the trailer. The narrative short, “Upon My Honor,” follows the life of Jared Silva as it spirals downward.

Over at the Lobo Theater three films screen beginning at 2 pm. “Running for Jim” is the story of Jim Tracy, the most decorated high school cross-country coach who learns he has ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease). His team is determined to honor him at the 2010 state championship no matter what it takes. The trailer is above left. “Timeless,” based on a true story, tells the story of a woman with brain cancer who wants to say goodbye to her daughter. “The Runners” is a documentary where joggers are questioned as they run, when their inhibitions are apparently at their lowest.

At 2:45 pm at The Guild, two documentaries are paired about young folks leaving their home environments and learning about life. In “Fly by Night,” children head out from Washington, DC for rural West Virginia to participate in a peace education program. What’s it like for them when they return to the streets of DC? “WORDS” is about a group of diverse teenagers traveling around the world as part of the Sustainable Global Leadership Alliance.

Back at the Hotel Cascada at 3:30 pm meet Stew Lines, line producer of “Breaking Bad,” “Better Call Saul,” and “The Messengers.” He is there for an intimate conversation about the film and television industries as they relate to New Mexico.

At the KiMo at 5 pm, “Brave Miss World” screens. This documentary is screening as a fundraiser for the Rape Crisis Center of Central New Mexico and the #IAmBrave Educational Screenings Campaign. It takes the viewer into the life of Miss Israel, Linor Abargil. She was abducted, stabbed, and raped at age 18, just six weeks before she competed in the Miss World competition. This film explores how Linor Abargil recovers from this trauma, then grows to become an advocate for justice. Here’s a link to her website, which includes the trailer.

At the Lobo Theater at 5 pm, “fat, dumb and happy” follows the life of writer Walter Quill. He’s not happy with his life, so he creates an alternate reality. It is paired with “Sheltered Love,” a short with a black-and-white vintage style of the 1950s.

Ready for some music instead? At 5 pm at Tech Love, Blue Lotus Feet is performing. They approach Kirtan (music based on ancient chants) in a beautiful inspirational manner. Here is their website.

At 5:15 pm at The Guild, “Before I Burn” is paired with “Rab da Vaasta.” The documentary “Before I Burn” looks at the “last sacrifice” of both rich and poor in Nepal after their deaths so that vision can be given to those who are blind. Here’s a trailer for that film. “Rab da Vaasta” tells the story of a barber who has an unexpected customer.

At 7 pm, also at the Guild, films from India continue with “One Track Heart: The Story of Krishna Das.” This film shows the evolution of New Jersey-born Jeffrey Kagel who spends much of his time pursuing rock music when he meets someone who encourages his journey to India to meet Neem Karoli Baba, known as Maharajji. Maharajji gives him the name Krishna Das. Krishna Das’s life takes many turns, some difficult, before he emerges as a world famous Kirtan singer. This inspirational film is paired with “Complimentary,” an animated music video produced in New Mexico.

At 7:30 pm at the Lobo Theater, “Grace” screens. In this feature film, Gracie (Annika Marks) is slowly falling apart due to her alcoholism. She is given a choice - jail or 90 AA meetings in 90 days. Can the influence of Sonia (Sharon Lawrence) and others guide Gracie to better choices? Here’s the trailer. This drama is followed by “3:21,” a narrative short about a man’s thoughts on his family.

At 8 pm at the KiMo, there is a fundraiser for the New Mexico Autism Society and the VSA Art Center. The narrative feature “The Odd Way Home” is a road trip film starring Rumer Willis as Maya and Chris Marquette as Duncan. She is escaping an abusive past and he is escaping his previous life of solitude. Together, they journey through the American Southwest. Paired with this film is “Six Letter Word,” also starring Rumer Willis, a mother of an autistic son.

A series of shorts screens at The Guild at 9pm. These seven shorts run the gamut from comedies to love stories, from family squabbles to a hilarious spoof of the tune “Rocky Racoon.” If it’s variety you’re looking for, this program of shorts is perfect.

At 9 pm at Tech Love, the mood is more spiritual. Girish, considered one of the world’s Kirtan masters, performs. A singer, poet and instrumentalist, he uses his voice plus tablas, percussion, guitar, and more to create amazing music. Here is the website for Girish. This event is a fundraiser for The Hanuman Temple in Taos.

From 10 pm to 1 am, the after party happens at the Hotel Cascada. It’s a Bollywood Dance Party featuring the live Kirtronica sounds (blend of Kirtan and electronica) of Jaya Lakshmi and Ananda. Check out this link for more info on their music.


Sunday’s events are educational and networking events with closing films at 2 pm, an awards dinner at 6 pm, and the Official AFME after party at 8 pm.

At 10 am at the Hotel Cascada, a panel is convened for discussing the financing and distribution of films. A second panel is convened at noon featuring New Mexico filmmakers.

There is a fundraising brunch for Taylor’s Calling at 11 am at Elaine’s Restaurant. For more information on tickets go to this link.

The closing film event is SOLD OUT. It begins at At 2 pm with the film “Frontera” at the National Hispanic Cultural Center. Starring Ed Harris, Eva Longoria, Michael Pena, and Amy Madigan, this film is set on the border between the U.S. and Mexico. It is the story of a man who crosses into the U.S. for work and then is accused of murdering the wife of a former sheriff. Screening also is a narrative short, “The Divide,” another story about the border. The trailer (check it out here) for “The Cuban Herd,” a documentary on a most unusual artist and his works, is also being shown (and the entire film will screen at AFME in 2015).

At 6 pm, there is an AFME Awards Dinner honoring all the filmmakers and movies at the Hotel Cascada. The AFME’s Youth Actor’s Experience Camp short movie will screen along with highlights from the past week’s films.

Then, at 9 pm, it is time to celebrate the accomplishments of the festival. The AFME Closing Night Party happens at SCALO Northern Italian Grill.

Detailed information on tickets, locations, and more is available at the AFME website. Here is a link to the calendar of events.

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