Looking for new movies? The American Indian Film Fest is online this November

by Nick Gonzales

It’s getting cold outside again, and the number of outdoor events we can participate in while safely socially distancing ourselves is drying up. As such, we’re back to looking for things we can do indoors. The only problem is, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, there aren’t a ton of those either.

After struggling for a while to stay open playing old movies and whatever dreck Hollywood was willing to part with during the summer, most, if not all, of the local theaters have closed until further notice. And as of Halloween, the last of the temporary drive-ins has gone away. So … we’re back on the couch.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t watch new movies. There may not be theaters to watch them in, but film festivals may be able to carry us through the winter.

The 45th Annual American Indian Film Festival, for instance, usually takes place in San Francisco but has gone virtual. It will last from Nov. 6 to 14 and has 102 films, 55 of which are world premiers. As far as we can tell, only one film overlaps with the Durango Independent Film Festival that happened (a thousand years ago) back in March.

Access to each program and feature of the festival is selling at $10, but there’s also a sliding scale that drops it down to $8.

Of particular interest to us are the three narrative features the festival has nominated for best film:[video:1]

• “Monkey Beach,” directed by Loretta Todd, follows a woman, Lisa, who returns to her home village from Vancouver when visions warn her that her younger brother is going to be in danger. This sets Lisa on a quest to rescue her brother as she journeys by boat to the Land of the Dead.[video:2]

• “Parallel Minds,” directed by Benjamin Ross Hayden, is a sci-fi flick in which a researcher and an old-fashioned police detective have to team up to stop an artificial intelligence as it uses Red-Eye, a contact lens that records human sight to replicate memories, to do something nefarious.[video:3]

• “Ruthless Souls,” directed by Madison Thomas, follows Jackie as she grieves the death of her partner, Toni, resulting from a complication during gender-affirming surgery. This process is complicated, however, as her pillars of support break up at the worst time possible.[video:4]

We’re also interested in “Rez Dogs,” directed by Steven Tallas, which takes place on the Navajo Nation. In it, a group of friends tries to find a better life for themselves but encounters adversity along the way.

Speaking of the Durango Independent Film Festival and indigenous films, by the way, DIFF has teamed up with the Durango Farmers Market to provide a free online screening of the documentary “Gather” from Nov. 1 through 15. It takes viewers to tribal communities where members are actively working on Native food sovereignty issues, and a link and password can be found on the festival’s website at durangofilm.org/native-american-heritage-month-celebration.

Oh … and if you’re dead set on attending a film festival in person this November, you’re in luck. Head to Florida, where temperatures are still in the 80s (or at least the high 70s). The Key West Film Festival is having all of its screenings at outdoor venues where people can socially distance across the island.

Nick Gonzales

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