Films used as a creative tool to grapple with urgent social issues and questions of identity and representation are what you can expect to see at the New Mexico State University Feminist Border Arts Film Festival.
For the fifth year, in honor of International Women's Day NMSU gender and sexuality studies professors M. Catherine Jonet and Laura Anh Williams will host a series of short films for the two-day festival on March 5-6 inside Devasthali Hall’s Sandy Zane and Ned Bennett Collection Study Room.
“We received 2073 submissions this year, from 112 countries and in the 5 years we've been doing this, we've received nearly 10,000 submissions,” Williams said.
Williams and Jonet organized the film festival, which is free and open to the public, in collaboration with the University Art Museum's exhibition, "Labor: Motherhood and Art in 2020," co-curated by Marisa Sage, director of the University Art Museum and Laurel Nakadate, a New York-based photographer and filmmaker.
On March 5, the “Mothers/Others” program features 27 films that explore concepts of family, parenthood and the effects of larger social forces. The program will include the U.S. premiere of Mexican director Fernanda Besné’s documentary “Little L.A.,” which follows deported “Dreamers,” DACA recipients who immigrated to the U.S. as children. The film processes the impact of repatriation on their lives as they attempt to form a community in Mexico City.
Day two of the festival, “Resurfacing: Five Years of FBAFF,” features a program composed of the festival’s most compelling film shorts selected by Jonet and Williams from the past five years. 15 films will be shown, including the U.S. premiere of Joel Cartaxo Anjos’s documentary short “So Far from Kabul,” about exiled Afghan actress Marina Gulbahari, who initially rose to international fame as the child star and now faces an uncertain future with her daughter in France.
The film festival shorts will be shown between films by artists from the “Labor” exhibition. “Happy Birthday to a Beautiful Woman: A Portrait of My Mother,” by Mickalene Thomas will be shown at 10 a.m. and “The Mother Project,” by Tierney Gearon will be shown at 5 p.m. March 5. KCET’s Emmy-nominated documentary “Artist and Mother” will be shown at 10 a.m. and “A Girl Like Her,” by Ann Fessler will be shown at 5 p.m. March 6.
“We're most proud of the top-notch film programming that we've been able to bring to the university and Las Cruces community. We've always prioritized accessibility and inclusivity-- we've never charged filmmakers an entry fee to submit their films, and we've never charged admission for our attendees,” said Jonet.
“We've always chosen films from different entry points-- from beginners to professional filmmakers to people with a camera with a specific story to tell. It's been illuminating to champion exceptional storytelling from all around the world, with varying access to budgets and resources.”
Looking back at how the festival has grown over the years, Jonet and Williams are eager to take the festival to the next level.
“We're looking to transform the Feminist Border Arts Film Festival into a Feminist Border Arts Institute in order to support the work of filmmakers and artists who are situated at the intersection of art-making and social justice,” Williams said.
For the festival schedule and more information, visit genders.nmsu.edu/film-festival.