Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Hispanic filmmaking training offered in N.M.

Redford collaborates on New Mexico film program
By SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN, Associated Press

SANTA FE, N.M. — Actor and director Robert Redford and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson unveiled details Friday of a collaboration that will expand training opportunities for Native Americans and Hispanics interested in filmmaking, the arts and the environment.

Redford and Richardson first announced the "Sundance in New Mexico" idea last spring. In recent months, it has evolved and been given a new name — "Milagro at Los Luceros" — to better reflect that the institute will be a product of New Mexico, rather than just an offshoot of Redford's Sundance Institute in Utah.

"It's a name that reflects the spirit of the land and the passion of its people," Richardson said at a news conference.

The project will be based at Los Luceros, a state-owned hacienda and complex of buildings along the Rio Grande north of Espanola. Besides the historic buildings, the state will use $750,000 in federal stimulus funds to build a series of eco-friendly lodges where aspiring filmmakers can stay while attending workshops.

Redford and Richardson signed an agreement to formalize the partnership. Redford said he has been committed throughout his life to enabling "underrepresented voices" — particularly those of Native Americans and Hispanics — to tell their stories.

Growing up, he said, he watched films that misrepresented American Indian culture and vowed that if he could ever do something to change that, he would.

"What I would like to see in Los Luceros is these cultures telling their stories in their own way, on their own turf," Redford said. "They're not over at Sundance telling these stories. They're here where their cultures were raised. This environment, I think, is very important."

Milagro at Los Luceros will be like a work-study program.

Participants won't have to pay for writing workshops or actors' labs, but they will be required to give back to the community in some way, whether by fixing fences at the property or encouraging local elementary students through classroom visits.

Beginning in the spring, Los Luceros will host a series of workshops and discussions as well as free screenings of Redford's "The Milagro Beanfield War," which he filmed in northern New Mexico in 1988.

There will also be an actor's lab designed specifically for Native American and Hispanic actors who will be chosen by a panel of professionals after audition workshops around the state. Officials said it will be the first lab of its kind and used as a national training model for diverse populations.

Richardson described the partnership with Redford as rare.

"It's extraordinary for a person the caliber and stature of Bob Redford to collaborate with state government to create a new kind of initiative that will address film and film arts as they relate to jobs and jobs training," Richardson said. "It's a great gift from Bob Redford to the state of New Mexico."

Redford said establishing Milagro at Los Luceros is not unlike the beginnings of the Sundance Institute.

"We're starting in a very humble way and we'll let it grow," he said.

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