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Fronteras Micro-Film Festival: an interactive artistic experience on border politics

An unconventional film festival, The Fronteras Micro-Film Festival opened on Friday, June 2 at the ABQ Artwalk. The film festival presented several short films simultaneously, each playing in a unique art exhibit with a central theme on immigration status and border politics, according to organizer Jade Stokes.

“I like to travel a lot,” Stokes said. “I am always struck by how easily we can move around the planet these days and it’s interesting to think about the lines you have to cross. Borders –  they’re invisible and we can move across them with some ease, if you're privileged, and then with less ease depending on the circumstances.”

The films and art installations were created with borders and accompanying xenophobia, or bigotry and racism against people from other countries in mind, Stokes said. Local artists created the art pieces while local independent filmmakers supplied the short films that were installed in them, Stokes said.

2023 is the inaugural year for the festival; Stokes said the organizers hope to continue hosting the festival.

The films were centered on the way that these issues affect people, especially New Mexicans, Stokes said. The theme was chosen by artists from the Dust Wave collective of filmmakers – the group that hosted the event.

“(The theme) was a decision Alonso Indacochea – one of the main organizers for this – chose with a few of the other installation artists. (We) just wanted to have a unifying theme,” Stokes said. “(Indacochea) comes from an immigrant family and many of us in the collective do… so we thought it was a good topic.”

Alonso Indacochea, an artist, filmmaker and organizer of the festival, was one of the main collaborators on the theme of borders and the unconventional presentation style of the films.

At the beginning of 2022, Indacochea said that members of the collective went to Texas and shot a documentary on the Greater Big Bend International Dark Sky Reserve located on the border of the United States and Mexico.

“Going there and seeing the border in that context really blew my mind. It just gives you a different perspective and then we knew that we really wanted to be important border-focused around border issues: surveillance, enforcement, crossings,” Indacochea said.

The idea for screening the films simultaneously was inspired by the formatting issues at other film festivals, Indacochea said. Viewers are often presented with unconnected films for several hours while they must try to mentally reset between films.

“One of the things we really didn't like about the way short films are presented in festivals is they're shown in two-hour blocks back to back. One’s a comedy, one’s a horror. It’s not a fun experience for people watching,” Indacochea said.

Rather than a unified genre, the Fronteras Festival was centered around a thematic idea, Indacochea said. Each film was unique and ranged from satirical pieces to clippings from news broadcasts, from animations to short stories with full plots, but all of them centered on borders and immigration.

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“We wanted to do a film festival where the films are situated in a context and presented in a way where people can just go from installation to installation,” Indacochea said.

The festival organizers sought to use the art as a way to draw attention from people all over Albuquerque, which Stokes said has been effective.

“I think a lot of people are connecting with us because of this event,” Stokes said. “And I think people are expressing interest in other types of screenings and other projects or collaborations, and we're very excited to see what will come.”

The ultimate idea was to make statements that are important for people in Albuquerque and the rest of New Mexico, Indacochea said, and uplift people with border connections.

“We're doing this to engage our community and to show solidarity with people that cross with immigrants all around the world,” Indacochea said.

Detroit Kallunki is a senior reporter with the Daily Lobo. They can be reached at or on Twitter @DailyLobo. 

Detroit Kallunki

 Detroit Kallunki is a senior reporter with the Daily Lobo. 

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