It’s billed as the only blacklisted film in America, and members of the original Hollywood Ten wrote, directed and produced it.
“Salt of the Earth” will kick off the second annual Santa Fe Independent Film Festival (SFIFF).
Made in New Mexico during the early 1950s, the film and its makers faced persecution under anti-communist sentiment of McCarthyism, SFIFF founder Jacques Paisner said.
“The lead actor, Rosaura Revueltas, was accused of being a communist and deported to Mexico, so they had to shoot the final scenes in Mexico and smuggle the reels back in unmarked canisters,” he said. “I think it’s one of the most important pictures ever made and certainly one of the most important ever made here in New Mexico.”
Because the producers feared sabotage and destruction of the film, the exposed footage had to be developed in secret and under the cover of night by a sympathetic lab technician, according to the Internet Movie Database.
No longer taboo, the film will precede the showcase of 80 independent films, various parties and presentations, an award ceremony and a red-carpet event.
Tickets are $6 per screening, and most of the events are free.
Co-founder David Moore said the festival will also screen independent films from various countries in addition to 17 locally produced films.
“Forty of the films we’re showing this year are world premiers,” he said. “I think that really speaks to what we’re trying to do as far as our mission and exhibiting independent film.”
Misha Klein, the maker of showcased film “Fred,” said independent directors face financial challenges that make it difficult to reach audiences.
“It is a very independent film. I paid for it out of pocket with bank loans and credit cards. I worked 10 years on it, and I’m still in huge amounts of debt. I did it for the love of filmmaking,” he said. “I want to share it with the world and get some feedback. I’ve been working in a vacuum.”
Moore said the festival started last year when he and Paisner had trouble finding a venue to screen their independent film, “Rejection.”
“It became apparent to us that there was a shortage of viable exhibition platforms for independent films,” he said.
Their efforts led to the formation of filmmakers who came to together to start projects like SFIFF.
“It started out as just a plan for us to show our film and few other shorts at a coffee shop for a one-night deal,” he said. “We sent out our call for entries, and 45 days later we had this giant pile of submissions. It really started to snowball quickly and take on a life of its own.”
Student Chris Bellantoni said that Santa Fe is a prime location for an independent film festival.
“I think Santa Fe is the artistic hub of New Mexico,” he said.
Moore said SFIFF’s primary goals is to provide filmmakers an avenue to for reaching the public. He said film festivals should be affordable and open to the public.
“We’re not in this to be elitist or to be exclusionary,” he said. “It doesn’t make sense to us.”