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Las Cruces International Film Fest in full swing

New Mexico State University and Visit Las Cruces are hosting the fifth annual Las Cruces International Film Festival, which kicked off yesterday and runs through Sunday, March 8.  The festival screenings are taking place at the Allen Theatres Cineport 10 located at 700 S. Telshor.

(Image courtesy of LCIFF)

Opening night began with a screening of a Canadian film called “Astronaut” starring festival guests Richard Dreyfuss and Krista Bridges. Shelagh McLeod directed the film.

Academy Award-winning actor Richard Dreyfuss plays an old man widower named Angus, while Bridges plays his daughter, Molly. In the film, Angus has one last dream and one golden ticket to the stars. He enters to win a competition sponsored by a billionaire entrepreneurial space company founder and the prize is a ticket on the world’s first commercial spaceflight.

McLeod, who wanted to be an astronaut when she was a little girl, said she wanted to show that any dream is possible no matter how old or what the circumstances are in life. “If we support one another, we can all achieve our seemingly impossible dreams regardless of our age and, in so doing, make our own metaphorical journey to the stars,” McLeod said.

McLeod and producer Jessica Adams were present at last night’s screening and attended a Q&A session at the theater afterward.

Today’s schedule consisted of more films and workshops. Actor Santino Jimenez presented a workshop called “Audition Techniques Workshop” at 12 p.m. Richard Dreyfuss is scheduled to receive the Outstanding Achievement in Entertainment Award this evening.

The 2020 Las Cruces International Film Festival official commemorative poster was designed by Las Cruces artist Luis Navarro. (Image courtesy of LCIFF)

Friday, March 6, will consist of many more films and workshops at Cineport 10 including a workshop titled, “Staging Combat for Film” by stuntman Randy Messersmith. Academy Award-winning screenwriter Tom Schulman, who is best known for “Dead Poets Society,” will present a screenwriting workshop, and talent manager, entrepreneur and television producer Brian Medavoy will discuss the do’s and don’ts of “Breaking into Hollywood.”

Saturday, March 7, will consist of more short films, documentaries and monologues before “The Man in the High Castle” actress Bella Heathcote and others will give a panel discussion on the Amazon Prime hit series. The discussion will take place at the Rio Grande Theatre downtown.

There will also be an awards ceremony from 7–9 p.m. at the Rio Grande Theatre and a VIP after party at The Game II Sports Bar and Grill from 9–11 p.m.

On Sunday, March 8, the final day of the festival, the 2020 festival award winners will be screened. Awards will be given for best director, best screenplay, best short film, best documentary film, best cinematography and a “Grand Jury” award, among others.

LCIFF brings positive attention to not only the New Mexico State University community and the city of Las Cruces, but the entire state of New Mexico. This film festival is an international event and people from all around the world come to enjoy the entertainment the festival provides. This five-day extravaganza is a perfect fit for any kind of film lover.

The festival hosts many independent film screenings, workshops, social events, parties, and — last but not least — celebrities.

Executive director of the Las Cruces International Film Festival, Ross Marks, made this film festival a student event for NMSU. Marks, who is a professor in the Creative Media Institute at NMSU, previously ran the White Sands Film Festival for three years before moving it to the city of Las Cruces and calling it the Las Cruces International Film Festival. According to Marks, “This festival is now one of the top three film festivals in the world.”

A complete schedule of festival events is available online.

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