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End of the line: ‘Before I Die Festival’ takes lighthearted look at planning for a funeral

On a recent Friday, Gail Rubin showed up on set.

Actors Jack Lutz and Tim Maloney review the script with Rajeev Nirmalakhandan, the writer, director and editor. (Courtesy of Gail Rubin)

Rubin was overseeing a commercial for the third annual “Before I Die Festival,” which runs from Sunday, Nov. 3, through Nov. 10.

She and the film crew showed up to the Route 66 Diner on Central.

“It was really interesting,” she says of the project. “I come from a background in radio, TV and film. To see how they get the magic to happen for a commercial was a great experience.”

The short is made by Kapture Productions, based in Rio Rancho and Las Cruces. It is written by Rajeev Nirmalakhandan, and stars local actors Jack Lutz and Tim Maloney. Rubin plays a waitress in the short, which can be viewed online at

Rubin says the video is a quirky, comedic approach to getting people to discuss death.

“We’re hoping this video is going to prompt more people about planning ahead for a funeral,” she says. “This is the third year for the event, and we’ve had more than 600 people attend the events. It continues to grow.”

Rubin says the stigma surrounding planning funerals needs to be broken.

“My approach to it is you can only laugh at it when it’s a distant possibility,” she says. “If you don’t pull information together and talk about what you might want, you will leave your loved ones scrambling. It doesn’t have to be that way.”

The festival opens in Albuquerque at 11 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 3, at a Day of the Dead celebration at Fairview Memorial Park, 700 Yale SE.

Rubin says the public is invited to wear costumes and makeup celebrating Día de los Muertos.

“A mariachi band will lead a parade through the cemetery, plus food trucks, face painting, muerto artwork, lowriders on display and a rosary walk in the park’s unique rosary garden,” she says.

At 6 p.m. in Taos, there will the first monthly series of Taos’ “Death Cafés,” co-hosted by Rubin, Death Café U.S. pioneer; Wendy Shuey, end-of-life doula; and the Rev. Susan Varon. The event will be held at Golden Willow, 412 Sipapu Road, Taos.

Events continue on Monday, Nov. 4, in Taos. On Tuesday, Nov. 5, a series of events take place in Española, and events continue on Wednesday, Nov. 6, in Santa Fe.

Rubin will be back in Albuquerque on Thursday, Nov. 7, through Sunday, Nov. 10.

“I do talks, and I use film to illustrate some of the points I’m trying to make,” Rubin says. “Death is difficult for all of us. We’re trying to start the conversation of planning for it to ease the process for families.”


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

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