Experiencing large-scale events like film or music festivals has gone, if not extinct, at least dormant for the last couple years. For years Albuquerque Film + Music Experience (better known as AFMX) has presented audiences with an event that is both audio and visual. Unwilling to let the pandemic keep them from being seen and heard, organizers went virtual with last year’s festival. Based on the success of the 2020 event, AFMX is back again in 2021 with another online-only version.
AFMX 2021 kicks off on Monday, Sept. 20 with the first block of films. The Opening Night Film Block (starting at 7pm) features a music video from The Shins, a computer-animated short and the documentary feature The Album. This independently produced doc talks about the record industry, as told from the perspective of the art department. With over 40 interviews from three generations, top creators talk about the development of art synonymous with music. From Abbey Road to Nevermind, viewers get to hear the stories behind the most memorable cover art in music history.
All told, there are 20 blocks of programming filled with feature films, documentaries, shorts and music videos spread throughout the run of the festival (Sept. 20 through 26). That ends at 5pm on Sunday, Sept. 26 with a screening of Fanny: The Right to Rock, which celebrates the untold story of the Filipina-American garage rock band which became the first all-female band to release an LP on a major label. As with most movies in this year’s AFMX, there will be a post-film Q&A with the filmmakers. Viewers who purchase individual tickets ($10) but are unable to livestream the films as they premiere have the option of watching them on demand until Oct. 11.
Although COVID restrictions have curtailed the sort of parties and meet-and-greets that are the backbone of many festivals, AFMX is still making room for its popular Center Stage Conversations. These live, on-stage chats with the people behind the cameras and instruments give audiences a look at the work that goes into making beautiful music and challenging film. Former vice presidential nominee and founder of American for Indian Opportunity LaDonna Harris will engage in a talk with local actress/singer Maura Studi about “Empowering Indigenous Generations” (Sept. 24, 2pm). Albuquerque spoken word icon Hakim Bellamy will wax poetic with two-time national poetry slam champion Sekou Andrews about “The Amazing Power of Spoken Word” (Sept. 22, 11:30am). And Emmy-winning composer W.G. “Snuffy” Walden (“The West Wing,” “The Wonder Years,” “Friday Night Lights”) will speak on the subject of “Creating Iconic Music” (Sept. 21, 2pm). These Center Stage Conversations are also available online and run $10 each.
Although participants and their films come to AFMX from around the world, programmers like to tie things in locally. On Sunday, Sept. 26 at 9:30am, the Center Stage Conversation turns to actress Rhea Seehorn. Seehorn will be reprising her role as Kim Wexler in the upcoming sixth and final season of AMC’s “Better Call Saul.” The prequel to “Breaking Bad” has been shot in New Mexico for years, making Seehorn a semi-local and an Albuquerque fave.
To purchase virtual tickets and to check out a complete schedule of AFMX’s 2021 lineup, go to afmxnm.com.