LAS CRUCES – Audiences were treated to a special screening of the Academy Award winning film “Fargo” Thursday evening at the Las Cruces International Film Festival, followed by actor William H. Macy and Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham receiving awards for their contributions to the film industry.
Fans of Macy’s swarmed Allen Theaters Cineport 10 Thursday evening, waiting for a glimpse of the actor and their chance to meet him. Macy is well known for his performances in the recently completed series “Shameless,” “Magnolia” and the New Mexico filmed movie “Wild Hogs.”
However, he credits “Fargo” with launching his career.
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“What a magnificent film. … It’s so moving. Anyway, what do you want to know?” Macy said right after the screening, followed by laughter from the audience inside the theatre.
Macy played Jerry Lundegaard in the 1996 movie, which also starred Frances McDormand (“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” “Nomadland”) and Steve Buscemi (“Reservoir Dogs,” “The Death of Stalin”). Macy’s performance got him nominated for Best Actor in a Supporting Role by the Academy that season.
When asked what he would do differently if taking on the role of Lundegaard today, Macy said he’d “do a little less.”
“I kinda like what I did, but I was wound up tighter than a spring, wasn’t I?” he said during the Q&A. He told the Sun-News he thought the film “really held up. So often a 20-year-old film is slow and clunky.”
The actor was invited to the Las Cruces festival this year to receive the Outstanding Achievement in Entertainment award which was presented in the lobby of the theater, after the “Fargo” screening.
Macy joins a list of recipients that includes Danny Trejo, Brendan Fraser, George Lopez, Richard Dreyfuss.
“Thank you all for supporting films and supporting these film festivals. That’s the only way independent films can survive,” Macy said after receiving the award. “I’ve had a great time. I loved watching the movie and I loved talking to all of you.”
Macy also spoke to New Mexico State University students, faculty and other members of the public earlier Thursday at the university’s Center for the Arts. He spoke of his career highs and lows and offered advice to those interested in getting into “showbusiness,” either as an actor, director, writer or other role.
Lujan Grisham was in attendance at the VIP party after “Fargo” screened to receive the festival’s Hero award for her contributions to the film industry in New Mexico, particularly in southern New Mexico. State tax credits incentivize film production in New Mexico and further support productions outside of Santa Fe and Albuquerque.
New Mexico State University Chancellor Dan Arvizu was on hand to present the governor with the award.
“This is about you. You are making this happen, the university’s making this happen,” Lujan Grisham said to those gathered in the lobby. “We’re going to build (the state’s film industry) better than anybody else anywhere in the country because my money is on each and every one of you.”
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She told the Sun-News that much attention is focused on Netflix and NBCUniversal in Albuquerque. Older films such as “The Milagro Beanfield War” — filmed in Truchas and directed by Robert Redford in 1988 — shine a serving light on northern New Mexico, but southern New Mexico’s contributions are no less noteworthy.
“I’m honored and really excited, but for me this is a recognition of the work that’s going on at this university,” Lujan Grisham said. “If you want to look for a 52-year investment in film in New Mexico, look right here. I mean, this is really the birthplace of that industry for the state and it’s paying off and it’s creating such I think a stable, long term set of opportunities.”
The governor said she believes New Mexico will continue to grow in its prominence as a film-friendly state. She also said a new media school will also be introduced into the state.
“We want New Mexicans to get all of the film education they need to be independent producers, to be writers, to be actors, to own their own creative economy businesses. We will have transcended the movement of filmmaking when New Mexico leads the country in our individual and collective work.”
Thursday was the second day of the film festival and Executive Director Ross Marks said turnout had been overwhelming.
On the first two nights of the festival, Cineport had to dedicate additional theaters to screen the select features — “All the World Is Sleeping” on Wednesday and “Fargo” on Thursday — due to high demand.
Marks said the festival is expecting large attendance numbers once again Friday for the screening of Disney’s 1994 animated feature “The Lion King” with a special appearance by director Rob Minkoff. Minkoff will be presented with the festival’s Outstanding Achievement in Directing award.
Through a partnership with Jardin de los Niños, over 100 homeless and near homeless children will be bused to the theater to see the Disney movie.
“Many of them going to the movies for the first time in their life,” Marks said.
The Las Cruces International Film Festival continues through Sunday. To purchase film festival tickets and see the full schedule of events, visit lascrucesfilmfest.com.
Leah Romero is the trending reporter at the Las Cruces Sun-News and can be reached at 575-418-3442, LRomero@lcsun-news.com or @rromero_leah on Twitter.