Sundance in New Mexico offers training in filmmaking for Natives

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Actor Robert Redford and Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson announced in May that the state of New Mexico and Redford are teaming up to create Sundance in New Mexico, which will offer filmmaking training for Native Americans and Hispanics.

The program will reside at the Los Luceros ranch in Alcalde, near Española. Lisa Strout, head of the New Mexico Film Office, said Los Luceros is ideal for the program.

Redford founded the not-for-profit Sundance Institute in Utah in 1981

to promote independent filmmaking and create theater projects. The

institute hosts the annual Sundance Film Festival, which celebrated its

25th year in January.

Redford said the time is ripe for such a film-training initiative in

New Mexico. “There’s change in the air right now. The days of the

monolithic silos that we lived in are changing; we’re going to be

seeing hybrids… where cultures can come together.”

Redford said the program will eventually encompass directing,

screenwriting and producing, providing an environment to create job

opportunities for American Indians and Hispanics. Though set in New

Mexico, the labs are not just designed for state residents, Strout

stressed.

The first program was a week-long Sundance Institute Native Filmmakers

Lab in Apache, N.M., held in May. The institute also hosts the free

panel talk, “Writing Life: Bringing Drama to the Screen,” in Santa Fe.

Strout said Sundance in New Mexico won’t be a year-round event. She

estimated the cost of the first year of the program will be between

$80,000 and $90,000.

“It will go beyond $80,000,” the governor said. “I will find ways,

working with Mr. Redford, to make a financial commitment for this

program.”

Redford said this country’s political climate has often worked to

categorize art “as a caboose” chugging along into “the nonprofit zone.”

“We’re probably the only government that doesn’t subsidize art,” Redford said.