Creativity at New Mexico Tech was showcased last week at its first short film festival, “Of Blood and Bullets.” Conducted at the Loma Theature.
Co-produced by the Film Genres and Tech Class Departments, five films were shown during the crowded evening screening.
Rosario Durao, a Tech associate professor of Communication, Liberal Arts and Social Sciences was the head chairperson for the festival. She was excited to watch the films her students put together with fellow audience members having not seen them before herself.
“We began with asking students if they knew movies,” she said. “Then we took it a step further and decided to have them make their own films. As is with Tech the students did amazing. I had the easy job of getting this thing together in which the Loma Theater was gracious to support us with the screening.”
Before the screening the Loma auctioned off a full sized authentic “Avengers: Endgame” poster to support Homeschool’s Lego League Robotics with a top bid of 200 dollars.
The two genres given to the students were vampire and western. Each team was made up of five members. Once everyone had their popcorn and drinks, Durao made a brief introduction before the theater lights went down.
First up was the film “Indians Always Die”. A racially charged piece about a Native American student, played by director Robert Allan, dealing with oppression and depicting him being slapped in the face multiple times by a white teacher in front of fellow classmates. The character must decide to retaliate or reflect on his own cultural humanity.
“Initially I was going for something else,” Allan said. “Due to time constraints we had to change a few things. Having worked in the (film) industry briefly I wanted to be subversive and address racial stereotypes when it comes to the Native American community but also maintain good production values. I wanted to highlight the positive aspects of what Native American filmmakers go through instead of the negatives that most people seem to focus on.”
Following that was a comedy farce titled “Hector the Chicano Vampire”. Made mockumentary style, “Hector” is the story of a Hispanic vampire who now has trouble doing his normal job of roofing as he can only work during the night which makes clients a bit suspicious. Plus he hasn’t told his religious family about the “condition” he has been afflicted with. But Hector takes it all in stride.
“It’s a comedy everyone,” co-director Adrian Vigil said. “Don’t take it to heart. Laughing brings people together. As long as you aren’t taking stereotypical jokes like we had here seriously then you realize it’s all in good fun.”
Our third feature was “The Ordained”, directed by film lover and first year Tech student David Bennecke, written by the duo of Jeremy Tarr and Opale Schappert. What starts off as a western feeling showdown at a local watering hole turns into the story of a cowboy hired by the Catholic Church to investigate several mysterious disappearances. Once reaching the mountains our hero discovers something he was not prepared for. Powerful women.
“This is generally an old school type of western,” Bennecke said. “It’s based on classic superstitions and cult beliefs that were around, hence the title of ‘The Ordained’. It’s a bit of an action and mystery type of story. I promise we’re only into the internet type of cults (laughs)”.
If religion mixed with cults are not your cup of tea, next up was the most straight forward titled film of the show. “Vampire Film”, directed by Benjamin Mastripolito, is not exactly what you’d expect. The story centers around a homeless bloodsucker named Steve. Well aware of moral implications that come with killing people, Steve lives in the foothills with his best friend, a rubber duck, and keeps to himself unless he has to feed for his own survival.
“I wanted to entertain the idea of what a hobo vampire might look like,” Mastripolito said. “Also it was the feeling of what can we do with the little resources we have. Let’s walk out to box canyon with the face paint we got from Wal-Mart and make a homeless vampire movie. Why not.”
Closing out the show was Spooky Adventure Crew Productions “Chinoo”. An epic drone shot ala “The Shining” opens things up with three friends heading into the woods for a birthday camping trip full of beer and bro time. On their way in a strange native in a wheelchair from the area named Chinoo warns the group to go no further. Shot mostly in POV handheld style, things do not go so well for the young travelers.
“Conceptually we wanted to go higher production values,” director Nakii Tsosie said. “But our camera died and all we had was our phones so we were like alright, I guess it’s ‘Blair Witch Project’ now. But I’m happy with how it turned out.”
Professor Durao thanked everyone involved after the student Q & A while also announcing plans to continue the filmmaking course next semester with the planned themes being film noir, musical, or romantic comedy.
“Creativity has got to stay at Tech,” Durao told the audience. “This type of artistic thinking is here to stay for our students.”