Sep. 23—Ivan Wiener has 10 years under his belt as the executive director of the Albuquerque Film and Music Experience.
This year, Wiener and his staff will bring the 11th iteration of the film festival to Nob Hill.
"We have a great team, and it's been a really great thing for the community," he says. "It's going to be five days, and it's packed with films and music performances."
The festival kicks off on Wednesday, Sept. 27, and runs through Sunday, Oct. 1, at various locations in Nob Hill. A full schedule and prices is available at afmxnm.com.
In planning for this year's festival, Wiener wanted to keep some of the after parties smaller.
"With COVID making a surge again, we were hesitant on bringing large groups of people together," he says. "This year we're going to showcase a lot of local musicians for the parties."
AFMX is known for its Center Stage Conversations, which gives attendees a chance to get an up-close and personal look at the industry.
Topics include conversations about entertainment law, casting, film distribution, making a pitch and perfecting it.
"These conversations are meant to help open the doors for filmmakers," he says. "What we've been building for the last decade is a community of filmmakers from all facets."
Over the course of five days, the festival will screen 81 films.
This includes feature films, narrative shorts, animation and studio films.
"It's a good combination of comedy, drama and music videos," he says. "It's a really great line up."
Preparation for this year's event began immediately after last year's festival.
In addition to putting a list of films together, Wiener says the festival is an opportunity for people to network and make connections.
"We're definitely adding to the economic impact for the people meeting at the festival," he says.
At 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 23, the opening night film will be "Burst the Silence," directed by Eric D. Schaeffer.
"Burst The Silence" is a musical fable about a father and son and a gift that gives voice to a haunted past.
Robbie is a precocious kid growing up with his father, Konnie.
A charismatic and irrepressible storyteller, Konnie is also shadowed by a memory that has remained hidden in the woods of his childhood: how he, as a young boy, survived the Holocaust. A turn in both their lives comes when Konnie gives seven-year-old Robbie a guitar, neither of them yet realizing that it will allow Robbie to tell the only story his father never could.
Schaeffer was drawn to the project immediately.
"When I first read the screenplay, I wondered how we would be able to afford going to India, Switzerland, Israel and Europe on an independent film budget," Schaeffer says. "I knew it was going to take some creativity. But then came the idea of placing the whole movie in the woods — precisely where Konnie's horrific memories had taken place — seemed like the perfect solution. So much so that, without anyone realizing it, the woods suddenly became a character in and of itself. It brought the film alive in a new way so that the audience could lean in to the words, music and story. By the end of the film, the audience realizes that Konnie has been trapped in his own woods his entire life. The idea of him escaping the woods and his trauma as he stands in the tranquility of water — washing his heart clean — lets him be free. And the discovery that his sister is the person who opens Robbie's world to the window of Konnie's choice, allows Robbie himself to leave the woods and embark on his own new journey. I instantly knew that this was the best way to tell this story — among the beauty of the leaves and trees, which also served as a haunting memory of Konnie's world."
On Friday, Sept. 29, the festival will screen "Oppenheimer After Trinity" by New Mexico native Larry Sheffield.
Growing up in New Mexico, Sheffield was aware of the impact of J. Robert Oppenheimer. This is why the filmmaker has dedicated years of research to adding more facets to the moment of history. In 2021, Sheffield released "Alamogordo, Center of the World, Trinity 1945," which was a short film about his family's connection to the Manhattan Project and the Trinity Site.
The native New Mexican filmmaker is back with "Oppenheimer After Trinity," which is the second film in the trilogy.
The documentary film explores events that occurred immediately after the testing of the world's first atomic bomb in July of 1945.
Sheffield offers a rare and intimate glimpse into the mind of Oppenheimer, and the moments leading up to and following the first atomic bomb test in the New Mexico desert.
The film features rare footage and photographs, along with compelling testimony from Oppenheimer's grandson, Charles Oppenheimer.
"When I started this journey in 2019, we began by doing a deep dive," Sheffield says. "We were trying to tell one story, and then we had all these little side stories that are just as important."