Governor added as judge to High Plains Film Festival

By Helena Rodriguez, PNT Staff Writer

Governor Bill Richardson is the newest celebrity to be added to an already distinguished panel of judges for the inaugural High Plains Film Festival in Portales on May 4.

Other judges for this Eastern New Mexico University-sponsored film festival include actress Joan Leslie of “High Sierra” fame with Humphrey Bogart; screen writer, Diana Ossana, who collaborated with Larry McMurtry on “Brokeback Mountain;” and Jack Sholder, an Emmy and Grand Prix award-winning editor and director who leads the Motion Picture and Television Program at Western Carolina University.

Due to the addition of Richardson to the panel of judges, the deadline for entries has been extended by about two weeks. The postmark deadline, which previously was March 21, is now April 9, according to an ENMU release.

Michael Sitton, Dean of the College of Fine Arts at ENMU, said the film festival is thrilled that Richardson will be a part of the film festival.

“I would say he (Richardson) has certainly been a big promoter of the film industry in New Mexico during his time as governor and has contributed a lot to bringing films to this state,” Sitton said. “We are thrilled he has agreed to be a part of our film festival.”

Sitton said that several entries have already been received, adding, “This is a great opportunity for both student filmmakers and others to win some very attractive prizes. The top prizes are $500 in each category. Also, they will have an opportunity to have their work viewed by a distinguished panel.”

The screening for winning entries is slated for May 5 in the University Theatre Center at ENMU.

The film festival is a celebration of Eastern’s Digital Cinema Arts Program which was established in 2006. It was also established in celebration of New Mexico’s growing film industry, according to Sitton. ENMU also has a Media Animation program.

Filmmakers may compete in animated, dramatic and documentary/experimental works. A total of six, $500 prizes will be awarded in each category.

Leslie also appeared with James Cagney in “Yankee Doodle Dandy” and with Gary Cooper in “Sergeant York.”

Since Richardson took office, more than 90 major feature film and television projects have been shot in the state, adding more than $1.5 billion dollars to New Mexico’s economy, according to the New Mexico Film Office Web site.

Fast Facts

What: High Plains Film Festival

Divisions: Pre-college and college and above

Entry fees: No fee for currently enrolled ENMU students, $20 for pre-college students and $30 for college and above (Group entries are accepted).

Maximum length of films:
10 minutes

Other requirements:
Send four DVD copies of each entry, playable on a standard DVD player, to: High Plains Film Festival, College of Fine Arts, 1500 S. Ave. K, ENMU Station #16, Music Building, Room #113, Portales, NM