Friday, January 11, 2013
A Night in Mesilla
Right off the historic plaza in Old Mesilla, at the oldest standing theatre in the state of New Mexico, Among the Dust of Thieves had its premiere screening last night.
There were three showings, actually, to accommodate the large number of descendants of the film's subject, Colonel Albert Fountain. His great, great-great-, and great-great-great grandchildren packed the small theatre. There were also a couple of state officials, former governor Garrey Carruthers, and several people from the Las Cruces film and theatre scene. An interesting mix-up of personalities.
The theatre bears Fountain's name, built in 1905 by one of his sons on the site of an old Confederate barracks. (Mesilla was briefly the the capital of Confederate Arizona during the Civil War.)
It was a night of history and storytelling. The film itself dramatizes the last few days of Colonel Albert Fountain's life in 1896, when he disappeared in a case that remains unsolved today; and the days immediately following his apparent murder, as an unsuccessful investigation begins. The film strongly implies that the culprit was rancher and politician Oliver Lee, someone Fountain had prosecuted during the local range wars when there was land fraud and cattle rustling going on. It seemed to be the prevailing theory among our audience last night. When Chris Norden, the actor who portrayed Lee in the film, was called to the stage along with the rest of the cast, the audience hissed and booed him. (Norden, who usually gets cast as nice guys, seemed to enjoy that.)
The film turned out very well. It was a very proud evening for the filmmakers and those of us who got to perform in it. Photography took place in the fall and winter of 2011 with some additional filming and sound work in 2012. (In an earlier post, available here, we shared some stories from the filming up in Santa Fe county.)
Running about 45 minutes, it will play several times a day at the Mesilla Valley Mall's cinema for a week (today through the 17th), and it is available on DVD. (Order yours here!)
A lovely evening. Today, back to work: a new semester at NMSU is getting underway while the theatre department moves into its new building, and The Fantasticks opens next week at the Black Box Theatre in downtown Las Cruces.
[Image: Me, Chris Norden, and my wife at the premiere party last night]