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The 2020 Las Cruces International Film Festival had some moments where organizers were queasy,as several special guests dropped out at the last moment, several out of concerns about the coronavirus.
“The show must go on,” said festival director Ross Marks. “We picked up some great guests who we weren’t expecting. Having Graham Moore step in was great, and his panel workshop was among the best we have ever had in my eight years with the festival.”
Between Moore and Richard Dreyfuss, this year’s festival featured two Academy Award winners -- Moore for his screenplay for “The Imitation Game” (2014) and Dreyfuss for his performance in “The Goodbye Girl” (1978).
“It started off with a bang,” Marks said. “It was the biggest opening night we ever had, with the most people we ever had for an opening night screening. We sold out the first theater with 250 people and put 150 in the second theater. The virus didn’t seem to scare off the film goers, even if it scared off some of the out-of-town guests.”
Marks said that between the special guests and the response from filmmakers and community filmgoers, as well as a warm and gracious staff, the 2020 film festival was “a wonderful success.”
“Our number-one goal is to be a filmmaker festival,” he said. “As a filmmaker myself, I wanted to create a festival I would want to be a part of.”
The 2020 festival boasted a couple of “firsts,” Marks said. This is the first time they had two Academy Award winners take part and the first time they had an actual feature film premier, with “Astronaut.” The movie’s writer and director Shelagh McLeod flew in from London for the event and later sent an email to Marks telling him it was the best festival she has attended, and she was impressed by the hospitality of the area.
“The overall response from filmmakers was so overwhelmingly positive,” Marks said. “This year was extremely smooth, a tribute to everybody involved in the festival.”
As to plans for next year, Marks said there were some really big-name special guests who wanted to come in this year and couldn’t because of the schedule. They have already committed to being here next year if they get the schedule early enough. Those dates will be released soon.
Elva K. Österreich may be reached at email@example.com.