ENMU planning film fest

By Thomas Garcia, Freedom New Mexico

Eastern New Mexico University is prepping for the first High Plains Film Festival that will be held on May 4 in Portales.

The film festival celebrates ENMU’s Digital Cinema Arts program, established in 2006, and New Mexico’s growing film industry, said Michael Sitton, dean of ENMU’s College of Fine Arts.

“We have two relatively new programs such as the digital cinema and media animation program and thought that it would be interesting to hold our own film festival,” said Bob Vartabedian ENMU’s vice-president for Academic Affairs.

“I am pleased with the response of the students. I have had several high school and college students as well as college staff inform me that they will be submitting entries into the festival.”

Interested parties can meet with ENMU staff at 1:30 p.m. today at the Zia Room at the Campus Union Building to discuss how to maximize entries and promote the event to surrounding areas.

There are two divisions in the film festival they are pre-college for students through K-12 grade and college plus for all other entries.

“We are encouraging filmmakers from 10 years old to 80 years old to enter into this contest,” Vartabedian said. “It is possible that out of the submissions we receive we could potentially see the rise of the next great filmmaker.”

Filmmakers must enter their 10-minute animated, dramatic or documentary/experimental films by March 21. The films cannot have won any awards previously in a juried competition. The cost for entering a film into the festival is $20 in the pre-college division and $30 for the college-plus division. A total of six $500 cash prizes will be awarded for winners.

“ENMU students can enter their submissions for the festival for free,” Vartabedian said. “We are allowing multiple entries so a filmmaker or a team of filmmakers can enter as many categories as they like.”

Judging the festival is a panel of award-winning actors, directors and screenwriters that include Joan Leslie who acted alongside silverscreen greats like Humphrey Bogart, James Cagney and Gary Cooper and appeared in the movies High Sierra, Yankee Doodle Dandy and Sergeant York.

Also judging the festival is screenwriter Diana Ossana, who collaborated with Larry McMurtry on “Brokeback Mountain,” which won both an Oscar and a Golden Globe for Best Screenplay in 2005. Jack Sholder, an Emmy and Grand Prix award-winning editor and director, leads the Motion Picture and Television Program at Western Carolina University.

“We are very fortunate to have such a distinguished judging panel participate in this festival,” Vartabedian said. “The filmmakers will also have a one-on-one session with the judges who will review the film and give them advice and positive feedback on their project.”

To Enter a Film
Filmmakers must submit four DVD copies of each entry by March 21, playable on a standard DVD player, to High Plains Film Festival, College of Fine Arts, ENMU Station 16, Music Building, Room 113, 1500 S. Avenue K, Portales, NM, 88130.