Durango film festival keeps rolling

Panels, workshops upstage on-screen action this weekend

Artist Nicolas Quezada paints a large pot in a scene from Scott Petersen’s entry in the Durango Independent Film Festival, “The Renaissance of Mata Ortiz.” The feature-length documentary, which received the Director’s Choice Award for Best Art Film at the Sedona Film Festival, will screen at 9 a.m. today and 9 p.m. Saturday at the Gaslight Cinema. Enlarge photo

Courtesy of Scott Petersen

Artist Nicolas Quezada paints a large pot in a scene from Scott Petersen’s entry in the Durango Independent Film Festival, “The Renaissance of Mata Ortiz.” The feature-length documentary, which received the Director’s Choice Award for Best Art Film at the Sedona Film Festival, will screen at 9 a.m. today and 9 p.m. Saturday at the Gaslight Cinema.

The Durango Independent Film Festival is about halfway over, but some of the 2012 highlights are yet to come – and they’re not on the silver screen.

This year’s panels, though there are just three (and one’s technically a workshop), might be the best ever. All three will be moderated by Rich Henrich, co-founder of the Albuquerque Film Festival and the founder of the Film 4 Change Foundation.

It will start Saturday morning, when filmmaker, writer and director Alex Cox will share the secrets of how to tell a good story on screen. For the “Power of Story” panel, he’ll be joined by filmmakers Alethea Root and Jules Bruff, whose feature “Part Time Fabulous” is one of the early crowd favorites this year, and Manny Otto, an associate publisher at MWP, the largest publisher of film and screenwriting books.

Cox’s directorial résumé includes “Repo Man,” which will be screened Saturday morning before the panel discussion, as well as “Sid and Nancy” and “Kurosawa: The Last Emperor,” and he wrote screenplays for “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” and “X Films: True Confessions of a Radical Filmmaker.”

Arrive early, as this one should fill up quickly.

Later Saturday, Durango’s own stunt legend Bud Davis will lead a demonstration workshop about movie stunts.

“He asked if he could blow up a car, but we don’t have that kind of money,” Henrich said.

Henrich said Dave Welz with the local Four Corners Film Office came up with the idea for the stunt workshop.

“The stuntmen are the guys behind the scenes who make movie magic happen,” Henrich said.

The final panel will be Sunday’s “What’s So Funny? (With Three Guys Who Know),” a look at comedy on stage and screen. The three guys are actor and Second City vet John Rubano, photographer and actor Craig Semetko and actor-comedian Steven Michael Quezada, who plays “Gomez” on the TV series “Breaking Bad.”

“We’re going to find out what makes somebody funny and how to make people laugh,” Henrich said. “Can someone learn how to be funny? We’ll find out.”

In between panels, there’s still plenty of time to catch a few flicks. There are 15 more screening sessions, and some titles generating some early buzz among audiences are the features “Holiday Road,” “Cellmates,” “Part Time Fabulous” and “La Hora Cero,” though such samplings are unscientific at best.

The real winners will be announced Sunday night during the closing awards ceremonies at the Durango Arts Center.

ted@durangoherald.com

Fifth-grade students from Park Elementary School attend the Durango Independent Film Festival’s Intermediate Scholastic program Thursday at the Durango Arts Center. Enlarge photo

DAVID BERGELAND/Durango Herald

Fifth-grade students from Park Elementary School attend the Durango Independent Film Festival’s Intermediate Scholastic program Thursday at the Durango Arts Center.

Filmmaker Alex Cox will be a panelist for “Power of Story” on Saturday morning at the Back Space Theatre. Enlarge photo

Courtesy of the A.V. Club

Filmmaker Alex Cox will be a panelist for “Power of Story” on Saturday morning at the Back Space Theatre.