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Film Making Impact

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Ilana Lapid grew up around various kinds of borders.

She’s lived in Canada, Jerusalem, New York and Las Cruces.

But it wasn’t until she moved to the City of the Crosses that Lapid took an interest in the border region and its complexities. After writing a few screenplays and traveling in Mexico, she decided to write what became the script for a 17-minute short film, “Red Mesa.”

It is a coming-of-age story about a young woman living with her grandfather along the U.S.-Mexico border when she begins a forbidden relationship with an undocumented worker from a nearby ranch. Seventeen-year-old Lynn is torn between the love she feels for her grandfather and the Mexican laborer. Ultimately, she must make a difficult choice that results in a tragic set of circumstances.

“She has to decide what borders she’s willing to cross,” Lapid said. “It really explores the complexities of the border, as I understand it.”

Lapid’s short film earned the New Mexico Centennial Award at the Taos Shortz Film Fest in March.

“I didn’t imagine that I would pick up an award, but I’m honored by it,” she said. “I had never been to Taos before, so it was a great experience.”

“Red Mesa” was shot in 2008 at Corralitos Ranch just west of Las Cruces, and Lapid began sending it out to festivals in 2009. It premiered at the New York International Latino Film Festival. It has since screened at various film festivals, including White Sands International Film Festival and the Silver City Film Festival.

“The state has been really supportive of the film,” she said. “It’s been a long process for us to get the film out.”

The film also was accepted to one of the oldest independent film festivals, WorldFest-Houston International Film Festival, where it will be screened this weekend. Lapid also will find out if she earned any awards today.

“I’m excited about having more people see the film,” she said. “This festival is also very prestigious, and it’s another great steppingstone for me.”

When Lapid isn’t out making films, she is a screenwriting instructor in the Creative Media Institute at New Mexico State University. She said she likes being involved with a new batch of film students and is excited to teach, because the program at NMSU is a fairly new program and has so much potential.

“There is so much talent in the area,” she said. “The program is quickly becoming a destination for film students. I’m still hoping that southern New Mexico can be a center for film production.”

“Red Mesa” was Lapid’s master’s of fine arts thesis project in the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California.

“The big challenge for me was to tell a human story, that wasn’t a political story, that wasn’t ideological or trying to hit the audience over the head with anything, but just the realities of the border,” she said. “It’s humbling that audiences are understanding the message.”

A DIFFERENT LOOK: When it comes to film, Guy Maddin is a visionary. His black-and-white films have garnered him a following, and his latest film, “Keyhole,” will screen at The Guild Cinema, 3405 Central NE, from Friday through April 30. The film stars Jason Patric, Isabella Rossellini and Kevin McDonald. Maddin took some time to speak about the film. Visit to read more about how Maddin came up with his movie.

SEND ME YOUR TIPS: If you know of a movie filming in the state, or are curious about one, email Follow me on Twitter at @agomezART.

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