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Santa Fe Film Festival Seeking to Shake Corruption with New Management


Santa Fe Film Festival Facing Bankruptcy, Shakes Up Management

In the wake of past corruption scandals, the Santa Fe Film Festival struggles to pay off debts to filmmakers while undergoing a change of management

 

By John C Morley, The Morley Report

September 21, 2010 – Over two years ago, Camerado producer Jason Rosette learned through one of his actors that his latest feature, "Lost in New Mexico: the strange tale of Susan Hero", had appeared at the Santa Fe Film Festival in his homestate of New Mexico. 

For most filmmakers, this would be good news.  But for Rosette, who had invested his life's savings and years of effort to complete his second feature, it came as a shock. 

"They (then festival director Jon Bowman and deputy director Stephen Rubin) screened the movie without asking me or even telling me about it. They sold tickets and made money at the box office. Then they pocketed the cash and I never heard from them. It was bizzare, ludicrous, and of course, extremely disappointing" 

Rosette states that he and the film were blacklisted as a response to his complaints. 

 
"Ironically, for bringing the issue into the public eye, for complaining about these corrupt practices, our movie [Lost in New Mexico], which our all New Mexican cast and crew had worked so hard on, was blacklisted." 

He added: "We couldn't get any more screenings in the state, we were verbally harrassed, and a lot of my colleagues and friends in New Mexico suddenly 'hushed up' and wouldn't contact us, I guess out of fear of some kind of reprisal." 

But a Santa Fe New Mexican newspaper article, (“Film fest, still paying past debts, downsizes” article-> http://www.santafenewmexican.com/PrintStory/Film-fest--s ...) reveals that the pattern of corruption and evasion that affected the release of Rosette's film continued unabated more than a year later, with filmmaker Shane MacDougall experiencing fraudulent dealings as well at the hands of the SFFF.

The article cites MacDougall as stating that he has been trying to collect "roughly $1,500" from exhibition of his movie "Wiener Takes All", with SFFF director Jon Bowman handling receipts from the box office with a 60/40, filmmaker/venue split. 

At the time of its writing in late October 2009, then-fest director Jon Bowman claimed to have remitted "a check for $400". 

However, MacDougall, who later corresponded with fellow affected filmmaker Rosette, states, to the contrary, that even today he has "yet to see a dime." 

"I feel terrible for other filmmakers like Shane MacDougall getting shafted over a year after we did", Rosette said. "We went through the wringer to try to get some explanation from the Santa Fe Film Festival, to try to set some kind of example so this wouldn't happen again...but instead we just got branded as 'the bad guys' for complaining about it". 

Rosette added: "who knows how many other filmmakers out there got shafted by the Santa Fe Film festival under Jon Bowman's direction?" 

While revelations of other outstanding debts to filmmakers, including Shane MacDougal and "Wiener Takes All" offers some vindication for Rosette and the "Lost in New Mexico" cast and crew, it is a bittersweet ending for the filmmakers' problems with the troubled New Mexican event. 

"Sure, some of the old friends started coming round again after it became clear that we weren't the problem - the festival was", Rosette said. "But that doesn't make up for the lost premiere of our film, the stress and the frustration we experienced, the delayed release schedules, and all the other problems that resulted." 

Rosette, whose first feature "BookWars" was nominated for an IFP Gotham Award and received significant critical acclaim, assumed that by making his second film in his once-homestate of New Mexico, he would be fast-tracking his career. 

"It would be great to see something back from that whole experience, and I hope the new SFFF festival management and New Mexico film and media community can help reverse things, now that the truth is out." 

He added: "I hope other filmmakers don't have to go through what we did."

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