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Credits roll for White Sands Int’l Film Festival

All good things come to an end.

Such is true for the White Sands International Film Festival.

The annual festival held in Las Cruces for the past six years is shuttering just as it was approaching its 10th anniversary.

“It just got too big,” said David Salcido, artistic director for last year’s festival. “There wasn’t enough of an audience to sustain five days of programming.”

Although the news is a blow to the southern New Mexico film community, within a few hours, plans for a new festival were beginning to take place.

Enter Keagan Karnes, who took to social media and started bringing some hope for Las Cruces to host another film festival.

“It’s all in the beginning stages right now,” Karnes said. “As soon as I mentioned it on Facebook, there were people showing support all over the place.”

Karnes is a Las Cruces native and product of the Creative Media Institute for Film and Digital Arts at New Mexico State University. He hopes to get enough footing to start a new festival.

“My plan would make the festival shorter, and try to bring in more high-profile guests and films,” said Karnes, who now lives in Albuquerque. “I’ve been lucky to have the support of the Las Cruces film community. They’ve done so much to help me get my own career off the ground.”

The WSIFF was founded in 2005 in Alamogordo and relocated to Las Cruces in 2009.

Salcido was brought on as artistic director last year and is proud of the work that was done on last year’s festival. He said organizers tried in the previous two years to include more New Mexico film and filmmakers. Even with all the changes, Salcido said, the festival was in a slump.

Board member Mark Medoff resigned and then, after the festival in September, board members learned the president, vice president and producer were resigning, he said.

“After that blow, there were only three board members left and they were all media people,” he said. “They were asked if they wanted to continue and they decided to dissolve the festival.”

Salcido said there also was low attendance at the screenings.

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