Film/Television Editor, Copy Editor Devin D. O'Leary served as film/television editor at Weekly Alibi for 28 years. He wrote and produced four feature films here in New Mexico and has been the booker/host of Midnight Movie Madness screenings at Guild Cinema for 13 years.

Over the past couple of years, film festivals have bent over backwards to accommodate audiences in today’s COVID-rich environment. Many have moved to online-only formats. But the 2022 Santa Fe Film Festival is moving ahead with nine days’ worth of film screenings at a string of venues across the City Different. Festival Director Stephanie Piché is excited to be in front of audiences once again. “We are still going live and in-person and working hard to get the final action items done in anticipation of our opening night,” says the busy director. The festival is scheduled to open Thursday, Feb. 3 and run through Sunday, Feb. 13.

All attendees must provide proof of vaccination, including booster, to get festival passes and gain entry to venues. All attendees must wear masks in all festival venues. The festival will even offer PPE and testing courtesy of COVID compliance sponsor VIP StarNetworks, ensuring the safest environment for viewers at Jean Cocteau Cinema, CCA Cinematheque and the Scottish Rite Theater.

In addition to hosting a master class in casting, a virtual production panel and a film financing Q&A, SFFF is making a trip down south to Albuquerque for a one-night only screening. “We are excited to have the special event we are producing in Albuquerque on Feb. 9 to celebrate Black History Month with the film One Pint at a Time,” points out Piché. The documentary (about Black-owned breweries) plays, appropriately enough, at Albuquerque’s Nexus Brewery (the only Black-owned brewery in the state) starting at 7pm. Seating is limited and tickets are going fast.

The Santa Fe Film Festival in its current form started in 2000 with noted local film critic Jon Bowman acting as executive director and guiding light for the next decade or so. Even from the festival’s earliest days, Santa Fe had little trouble luring high-quality independent films and well-known guests. “We have had over 500 films from 36 countries submitted,” says Bowman’s successor of this year’s crop. “We have over 90 filmmakers coming from four countries.”

“We’re very excited to be included in the Santa Fe Film Festival,” says Preston Miller, a New York-based filmmaker who is driving across the country to attend the world premiere of his film at SFFF. “Our film l’Odge d’Oor could be considered an ‘art film’ or somewhat experimental in form and content. As Santa Fe has such a flourishing art and film scene, we’re stoked to be playing to a community that appreciates unorthodox cinema. The programmers aren’t afraid to select bold and unconventional films, giving the audience something they haven’t experienced before.”

Doug Montoya, owner and operator of The Box Performance Space and Improv Theater in Albuquerque, will be in Santa Fe as well, representing homegrown New Mexico filmmakers. SFFF is screening Third Act, a comedy he wrote and co-directed about a lovable theater company that plots a heist to pay their rent while filming at a local bank. “I am very proud of this movie, and it is very validating for it to be selected for the Santa Film Festival,” says Montoya, who acknowledges his movie “would never have been made if it wasn’t for the expertise of my co-director Phillip Griego and the outpouring of support that I received from the theatre and film community.”

In addition to all the regional and world premiere screenings, the festival’s first weekend will see actor Anthony Edwards (Top Gun, “ER”) receive a Lifetime Achievement Award. The second weekend is capped with an appearance by Chris Gero, a 12-time Emmy Award winner and Grammy Award-nominated record producer. An accomplished composer and director as well, Gero will be showing off his second documentary feature, The Sound of Us

For a complete schedule of films and events at the 2022 Santa Fe Film Festival, go to santafefilmfestival.com. Individual tickets ($10) and festival passes can be purchased at the film festival box office (60 E. San Francisco Street, Suite 307, Santa Fe).