Las Cruces International Film Festival -

Independent film screenings, panels and workshops, VIP after-parties, and celebrity appearances are hallmarks of the Las Cruces International Film Festival (LCIFF), taking place in the spring, before things really heat up in the Mesilla Valley. Whether its narrative features, documentaries, short films, animation, or foreign films you crave, LCIFF has got you covered. Because, whether you’re a local filmmaker, a student of cinema, or just an avid movie-goer with a taste for the unusual, this is your chance to celebrate and support film in southern New Mexico! This year’s Las Cruces International Film Festival takes place April 3 – 7, 2024.

It all kicks off the weekend before, with the 48 Hour Film Challenge, where teams of filmmakers from Las Cruces, El Paso, and Juárez vie for cash prizes, as they attempt to write, shoot, and edit a complete short film within the prescribed 48 hours. Sounds impossible, but it can be done and the finished products are screened during the Festival. Make sure to put these screenings on your list of must-sees! Want to take part in the fun? Register today on the website.

The weekend of the festival screenings take place at the Allen Theaters Cineport 10. Opening night tends to bring a featured film, usually with Las Cruces, or at least New Mexico, roots. The screening is usually followed by a Q&A with the actors and crew of the film, and a gala after party sponsored by a local venue. Notable past features include 2018’s Being Rose, written and directed by local filmmaker Rod McCall, and starring Cybill Shepherd, James Brolin and Pam Grier;  and last year’s All The World Is Sleeping starring Melissa Barrera, Jorge Garcia, and Jackie Cruz. This year’s presentation is Land of Dreams, starring Isabell Rossellini, Matt Dillon, William Mosely, Sheila Vand, Christopher McDonald and Anna Gunn, which will kick off the festival at 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 12.

Back after a brief hiatus, several workshops will be offered on April 14, the third day of the festival, at the Allen Theaters, Cineport 10. Workshops include: “Independent Filmmaking Workshop” with Alexandra Boylan, Danielle Burgio, Keagan Karness and Jenn Garcia at 10 a.m., “Marketing your Film” with Alexandra Boylan at 2 p.m., “Directing for Film and Television” with Kevin Reynolds and “The Count of Monte Cristo” with Keven Reynolds. At 4:30 p.m.

It wouldn’t be a film festival without special guests and the organizers of this particular event tend to pull out all the stops, with heavy hitters from across the spectrum. A full list of former guests is available on the website, but a short list includes: Peter Bogdanovich, Judge Reinhold, Richard Dreyfuss, George Lopez, Beverly D’Angelo, Edward James Olmos, Cybill Shepherd, Ralph Bakshi, Brendan Fraser and Johnny Galecki. Awards usually come along with the package, as guests are presented such honors as the Outstanding Achievement in Entertainment Award, the Mark Medoff Humanitarian Award, and the “prestigious” Hero Award for outstanding contributions to the entertainment industry in New Mexico.

This year, the 2023 “Outstanding Achievement in Entertainment” award winner is Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad, The Mandalorian, Kaleidoscope). Joining him at this year’s awards ceremony will be fellow Better Call Saul actor Patrick Fabian, who will receive the “Outstanding Achievement in Drama” award. Both will receive their awards at the ceremony, held 7 p.m. Saturday, April 15 in the Rio Grande Theatre in downtown Las Cruces.

Tickets tend to start from $25 for day passes, student passes, opening night film screening, and/or celebrity film screenings. Also available are the All-Film Workshop Pass for $75, and the $150 VIP Pass.

Film is a huge industry in New Mexico, and southern New Mexico is finally getting a piece of that pie, with the number of films being shot here rising annually. The Las Cruces International Film Festival owes a lot to the stalwarts of the industry who have worked so hard to get this area noticed, and one of the best ways to pay tribute is by attending the festival. Viva Film! For more information, visit the website.

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