Durango Independent Film Festival heaping on the filmmakers in 2020

by Nick Gonzales

Want to meet the people who work behind the scenes making movies in Hollywood and elsewhere, but you’re not willing to leave town? No problem. The Durango Independent Film Festival is bringing a bunch of them to you.

The festival, which runs March 5 through 8, typically features both filmmakers who work in front of the camera and those who work behind it, but this year’s festival will lean a bit more heavily than normal on the latter, DIFF Executive Director Joanie Leonard said.

There will be a variety of ways in which festival attendees can interact with the people making the movies.

Each day Thursday through Sunday opens with a coffee talk, with filmmakers at R Space from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. There will be coffee, tea, and snacks at the events, but not much space. These are open to the public, even if you don’t have a pass to the film festival.

The festival features five parties, two of which anyone can attend (the others are reserved for top-tier pass-purchasers) – both of which are great for hobnobbing with (indie) film industry insiders. The first is a Native Cinema Reception from 6 to 8 p.m. on March 5 at Sorrel Sky Gallery. The other is a Meet the Filmmakers Party from 5 to 8 p.m. on March 6 at the Irish Embassy Pub Underground. Both will have hors d’oeuvres and experts to quiz about film-making.

The most structured places to interact with filmmakers are the festival’s panels and workshops, which are open to the public and located at the Irish Embassy Underground.

[image:2,mugshot][image:3,mugshot]One, at 11 a.m. on March 7, features writer/producers Michael Jamin and Liz Tuccillo talking about the business and craft of writing for the screen. Jamin worked on Beavis & Butthead, king of the Hill, Just Shoot Me, and Wilfred among a bunch of other credits. Tuccillo wrote for Sex and the City, co-authored the book “He’s Just Not That Into You,” and was the show-runner and executive producer of the HBO show Divorce.

Another, at 1 p.m. the same day, features talent agent Carissa Mitchell, casting director Marin McMaster, and actor and coach Vic Browder discussing what it takes to actually get cast in movies.

Finally, at 11 a.m. on March 8, Jamin and Tuccillo are conducting a hands-on workshop on turning ideas into screenplays.

“Since we (Durango Film) took over the Four Corners Film Office, I’ve been getting calls from people who say, ‘I’ve got this book and I don’t know how to turn it into a screenplay,’” Leonard said. “So we decided it was a good time to focus on that.”

There will also be Q&A sessions at many of the movie screenings throughout the festival, where you can ask questions of the people who made the movies right after you watch them. (For instance, “What did I just watch?” … these are indie movies, after all, and they can get a bit arthouse-y.)

The festival will be showing over 110 films, including the short film “The Neighbors’ Window,” which just won an Academy Award. Leonard is also excited for local filmmaker Hunter Sykes’ documentary “The Hunter Legacy,” the adventure documentary “The Weight of Water” about blind athlete Erik Weihenmayer, and the German feature film “The Silent Revolution.”

The free movie night, which at one point just applied to the films at the Gaslight Theatre, has been expanded to the Animas Theater as well on March 4. When he isn’t writing for DGO Magazine, Nick Gonzales also volunteers as a member of the staff of the Durango Independent Film Festival.

Nick Gonzales


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