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Tuned in: ‘Music is on the upswing’ at Albuquerque Film and Music Experience

Neil Giraldo, music recipient at this year’s Albuquerque Film and Music Experience. (Courtesy of Albuquerque Film and Music Experience)

The Albuquerque Film and Music Experience is focusing more on music this year than in its previous six years.

“Music is definitely on the upswing,” says Ivan Wiener, executive director of the festival. “We are trying to put together a cohesive lineup of programming.”

This year, the festival is also celebrating the 50th anniversary of “Easy Rider,” which was filmed partly in New Mexico.

“Easy Rider” follows two young “hippie” bikers on a trip across America in search of a way to lead their lives. Along the way, they encounter bigotry and hatred from small-town communities fearing the non-conformism of the pair. Today the film is held in high esteem as one of the first indie films that rocked the status quo in Hollywood, while transforming the careers of Dennis Hopper, Peter Fonda and Jack Nicholson.

The event will be held at 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 27, at the KiMo Theatre.

The celebration continues with the “The Ride to Remember” on Saturday, Sept. 28, that will follow the route where part of the movie was filmed.

“With the news of Peter Fonda’s passing on Aug. 16, the ‘Easy Rider’ events in New Mexico during AFMX will honor the legacies of Peter and Dennis Hopper, who directed and starred in the film, as well as what the film meant to many generations,” Wiener says. “We are excited to have hundreds of riders at the event, sponsored by Law Tigers and Thunderbird Harley-Davidson.”

“The Ride to Remember” offers a once-in-a-lifetime celebrity bike run beginning at Thunderbird Harley-Davidson in Albuquerque along the “High Road to Taos” and through areas where the movie was filmed.

The ride ends at Hopper’s burial site in Ranchos de Taos.

“We are very excited to highlight this important film and celebrate the lives of Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda here in Albuquerque,” Wiener says. “The Seventh Annual AFMX is going to be an amazing event featuring movies, workshops, networking events, live music by Dave Grusin and Neil Giraldo and more.”

Wiener is looking forward to hosting both Grusin and Giraldo, as well as musician Nathan East. Grusin will receive the Robert & Sibylle Redford Award, and Giraldo is the music award recipient.

“Nathan wants to see Dave perform,” he says.

Although music is a big part of the festival, Wiener says, the films are also key.

“We’ve also been putting emphasis on the student program,” he says. “We’re providing free student blocks of movies that have to deal with music, humanitarian issues and history.”

As in previous years, the festival will feature an “intimate conversation” series.

The first is with Tom Proctor on Thursday, Sept. 26. On Friday, Sept. 27, actress Tracey Reiner will take part in the series, as will Giraldo later that day.

“Tracy will be talking about film and her experience in film,” he says. “She’ll also talk about her mother, Penny Marshall, who has connections to UNM, and her father, Rob Reiner. Since she’s speaking about her mom, I wanted to have it at UNM.”

Wiener says the series continues to be a popular part of the festival.

A full schedule can be found at abqfilmx.com.

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