The fifth annual Feminist Border Arts Film Festival opened today and will feature the theme, “Mothers/Others.” The festival runs today and tomorrow in the newly opened Devasthali Hall on the New Mexico State University campus.
The festival this year will coincide with the University Art Museum’s inaugural exhibition, “Labor: Motherhood in Art in 2020.”
Laura Williams, director of gender and sexuality studies and co-director of the film festival, said she worked closely with Marisa Sage, director of the museum for this year’s theme. “Marisa Sage has been planning the ‘Labor: Motherhood in Art in 2020’ for more than a year,” Williams said in an email. “So when we began collaborating with her, we wanted the festival theme to be complementary but not identical.”
Williams said they received 2,073 film submissions from 112 countries this year. That number was whittled down to the 47 films, student and independently produced, that will be featured during the two days of the festival. According to Williams, film submissions ranged between one and 15 minutes in length, and some people even submitted full, feature-length films.
Williams said Catherine Jonet, co-director of the festival, chose the films based on a number of criteria. “There are a number of factors in [Jonet’s] selection process — from basics like the length and quality — to the extent to which they address our festival’s focus: to celebrate short films that utilize artistic vision to reflect on urgent social issues and those who tell stories from the margins, who challenge conventional representation and create new ways of seeing,” Williams said.
Sage explained that the idea behind the “Labor” museum exhibition is mothering, art and “the past, the present and the future of mothering as seen through art and what’s going on regionally here in terms of motherhood and the concepts of being a mother who both labors as a mother and labors as an artist.”
“We collaborated with the film festival this year to have an open call for artists, for filmmakers who are dealing with motherhood as a subject,” Sage added.
In addition to the films selected by the festival, the art museum’s exhibition will also feature four films by artists including photographer Tierney Gearon and multimedia artist Michalene Thomas. Williams said these films are slightly longer than the festival’s short films and will be shown before and after the festival’s program each day.
The FBAFF is unique among film festivals because “we’re interested in showing the value and impact of the humanities, of art-making as a means of knowledge production and sometimes as a strategy for calling for social change,” Williams said.
Williams indicated this stands in contrast to the commercial aspect of film production that other film festivals involve, such as the Sundance Film Festival and Festival de Cannes. “We don’t have many opportunities to see short films. Beyond the Academy Award nominees, short films don’t get much play, and they’re such amazing, condensed, rich narratives. I’m always so [excited] to share the programs with the NMSU and Las Cruces community because these truly cannot be seen elsewhere,” Williams said.
The festival will also feature 15 short film submissions from previous festival years, called “Resurfacing: Five Years of FBAFF,” on Thursday. Williams said the festival’s programs are about two and a half hours long and will play continuously throughout the day.
NMSU sophomore Vianney Romero and freshman Juan Valenzuela both said they had never been to the festival before, but liked short films and were interested in attending this year.
The FBAFF opened today and will continue through Friday. Showings are at 10 a.m., 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. in the Devasthali Hall Collab Lab and are free and open to the public. A detailed schedule of FBAFF events and showtimes is available online.