The final show: Mesa Public Library’s Free Film Series screens short films

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By The Staff

The word “local” carries with it a kind of stigma.

One on hand, we feel like we should buy local and support our immediate community.

On the other hand, we tend to act as though products made and sold far away are actually better – as though we’re doing the locals a huge favor with our generosity.

But we’ve got it backward. Los Alamos contains a lot of smart people, and many of these people don’t work at the lab.

They own hardware stores, bookstores, framing shops, gyms and restaurants. They work for the chamber, the county and the hospital. They put a lot of thought into what they buy, sell and promote.

They know their customers. We who constantly reap the benefits of their foresight and consideration should be thanking them, every day.

This is my thank-you to Mesa Public Library, especially to Thad Hahn and Phil Kilgour, the brains behind the library’s Free Film Series.

This year, in honor of the county’s 60th anniversary, the library has screened films made in New Mexico. From “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” to “Contact,” each film has held its own against its big, brawny Hollywood brethren.

Now, for its season finale, Mesa Public Library’s Free Film Series will show a collection of five short films, each of which was made in the Land of Enchantment and one of which was made by Los Alamos’ own Jean Gindreau.

To my knowledge, this is the first film by a Los Alamos filmmaker in the Free Film Series, ever.

But I’m singling it out not because it’s local but because it’s so good. In 11 minutes, Gindreau introduces us to Matt Allen, Ice Cream Man: a guy who gives away free ice cream because ... he likes to give away free ice cream.

He says it makes people happy. His goal is to make half a million people happy and he’s almost halfway there. He’s very strange, very sweet and very interesting.

Of the other four New Mexico films chosen for the short film festival, Don Gray’s “The Things We Do For Love” is a major highlight for me.

The film, shot in El Rito, Ojo Caliente and Abiquiu, tells the story of a family and a series of burials, some poignant, some hilarious and all beautiful.

I came away with a different view of both life and death – after 22 minutes. It’s absurd. It’s true.

“A Return Home,” by Ramona Emerson, follows the struggles of a Navajo artist who returns to her reservation in Tohatchi after 37 years away.

“The Veterinarian,” by Philip and Andrea Trujillo, is a day in the life of a veterinarian. We all know little boys are made of puppy-dog tails, but you might be surprised by what vets find inside puppy dogs.

Christine Vasquez and Thom Eberhardt’s “Mariachi Spectacular” showcases the talents and overwhelming passion of kids who come to Albuquerque each year to study Mariachi with the masters.

The New Mexico Short Film Festival will screen at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the upstairs meeting room theater at Mesa Public Library.

If you’ve never been to a production of the Free Film Series, this is a great one to start with – even if it is the finale.

If you’re a regular, be sure not to miss this one. It’s local, it’s great and it’s free, thanks to support from the Friends of the Library.

The series is co-sponsored by the Los Alamos Arts Council.

Kelly Dolejsi is a member of the Los Alamos Arts Council.