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International film fest runs through Sunday

The Las Cruces International Film Festival is currently taking place at the Allen Theatres Cineport 10, located in the Mesilla Valley Mall. The event began on April 12 and runs through Sunday, April 16.

Giancarlo Esposito was honored at the 2023 Las Cruces International Film Festival. Esposito is perhaps best known for his starring roles in “Breaking Bad,” “Better Call Saul” and “The Mandelorian.” He has also appeared in numerous films and other TV series dating back to the 1980s. (Photo courtesy of AMC)

Film and acting celebrities are scheduled to appear, and numerous short films from across the globe are being screened. The films cover a wide variety of genres including narratives, documentaries, animation and a few student-produced shorts. Even New Mexico State University is represented, with some of the student-produced work coming from NMSU’s own Creative Media Institute.

Jaron Lunsford, a senior CMI student at NMSU who admits he hasn’t always been heavily involved with the festival, said this year is different. “We [CMI students] just worked on a feature film that had its trailer premier, so we all went [Wednesday] and checked out the trailer. We were all screaming in the theater so that was a cool moment,” Lunsford said. Lunsford thinks the Las Cruces International Film Festival is not only huge from a size perspective, but also in terms of its importance and impact. 

“I feel like it’s more important for CMI and journalism [students] to [attend the festival] because you don’t get another opportunity like that unless you travel somewhere,” Lunsford said. One of those opportunities that Lunsford mentioned was having a chance to meet popular actor Giancarlo Esposito. Esposito is attending the festival and received an award last night for outstanding achievements in entertainment.

The 2023 Las Cruces International Film Festival runs April 12-16. (Image courtesy of LCIFF)

Ezekiel Solis, another CMI student who is involved in this year’s film festival, attended Esposito’s presentation. Even though Solis hadn’t seen much of Esposito’s work, he still learned from and appreciated Esposito’s advice. “I just got back from watching the talk with Giancarlo and it was good. I felt like I went in there open minded because I had seen a little bit of his work, but haven’t seen as much as a lot of other people there. I feel like one cool thing he talked about is dealing with adversity, especially in the [film] industry and how to break through that,” Solis said.

CMI professor Ross Marks is the executive director of the film festival. Marks has worked hard to keep the Las Cruces International Film Festival going for eight years. In an Albuquerque Journal interview published April 6, Marks said that after all the hard work, the ultimate payoff comes in the form of experience for the students. “The reward for me is that I see the students working and they are getting first-hand, real world experience of running a festival. Over the course of the five days of the festival, the students work more than any other class the entire year,” Marks said.

The Las Cruces International Film Festival is one of the biggest events of the year for the city, and Lunsford encouraged everyone to get involved.  “I think everyone should go to the film festival because it is a fun opportunity for anyone. Not only do you get to meet cool celebrities, but you get to go and watch people’s films from the local area. You get to watch people from Las Cruces to Juarez to El Paso. There are people that came from LA to make films here and premiere them here,” Lunsford said. 

Check out the official LCIFF website for a complete schedule of events. Tickets range in price from $8 for a single movie screening to $150 for a four-day VIP pass. Day passes for students run $25 each.

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