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Borderscene Film Festival going global

J.K. Simmons in a scene from the independent film “A Boy Called Sailboat,” which will screen at the Borderscene Film Festival in Las Cruc

Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal

Whether it’s a big-budget or independent movie, filmmakers want to get as many eyes on it as possible.

And, with theatrical releases hard to come by, organizers of the Borderscene Film Festival have a few answers toward that effort.

The Las Cruces-based festival now in its second year is aiming to go global by offering an online-only pass, where viewers can watch from the comfort of their homes.

“A lot of people aren’t able to attend the festival,” said Dave Witt, Borderscene executive director. “We have a lot of retirees and veterans and people with disabilities like PTSD that would love to be there, but they can’t. We thought, ‘How do we reach those folks?’ The answer was to view it online.”

The online-only pass is good from Wednesday, Sept. 4, through Sept. 9. It costs $15 at

The pass gives viewers around the world a chance to see the 75 films that will screen at the festival, which begins Sept. 7 and runs through Sept. 9 at different locations in and around Las Cruces.

The festival will include master classes on game development, casting, art direction and acting. There will also be virtual reality films and a panel on filmmaking in the borderlands.

Harry Hamlin

Harry Hamlin and Thaao Penghlis will receive Lifetime Achievement awards on Sept. 8.

Witt said the impetus to take the films online began before the inaugural festival last year.

The festival teamed up with NCoded Communications, which is an online security firm.

“One of our board members is in the company and explained to us that we’d be able to secure all of the films online,” Witt said. “This means there’s no chance for illegal downloading or recording.”

While Witt wants in-person attendance for the festival to grow, having the option to screen the films online does cross plenty of borders.

“It could reach worldwide,” he said. “That would be great. The goal is to get as many people watching some of the best independent films.”

The theme for the festival is “Overcoming Challenges,” and Witt said panels and films will have stories about beating the odds.

Thaao Penghlis

“I am fortunate to be working with some highly motivated and bright people to bolster my educational, corporate, and military experience,” said Michael Evans, festival co-founder and COO. “We work hard to have distributors present with eyes on film during film screenings at our festival, truly supporting our commitment to the independent filmmaker. Providing a direct avenue of resources to the independent filmmaker, not just during the festival but all year, ensures they know our mission is to see them succeed.”

This year’s U.S. Military category is sponsored by Vetflicks.

Vetflicks recently worked with Fun Academy and their animated World War I film “Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero” was short listed for last year’s Academy Awards.

Witt, an Army vet, wanted to give back to this community as well with the festival.

“Our nation has the most trained and professional military in the world,” Witt said. “This type of discipline translates to filmmaking and creates (military) veteran filmmakers who can walk directly into the industry with world experience.”

In fact, there were more than 50 films that were either directed, written or produced by a veteran, Witt said.

“This is why we are able to waive the fee for a film submitted by a veteran,” he said.

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