Busy Is Good: Actor Jeremiah Bitsui Does Triple Duty at ABQ Festival
Navajo actor Jeremiah Bitsui, most famous for his performance as Victor on Breaking Bad, will figure prominently in the Albuquerque Film and Media Experience (AFME), running June 1-8. He'll be in the audience (as will director Sydney Freeland and co-star MorningStar Angeline) for the screening of the Sundance success Drunktown's Finest; premiering his latest project A Man Named Paul; and moderating a panel on his next project, Johnny, a biopic of boxer Johnny Tapia inspired by the 2013 documentary Tapia (which is also screening at AFME). A complete list of the week's events can be found at abqfilmexperience.com.
So, you're coming back to ABQ, the city in which the super-phenomenon Breaking Bad was filmed, to screen Drunktown's Finest. What's going through your head?
It's always an honor to be involved in a film festival. It's a great accomplishment for our whole cast, producers, and the writer and director. I'm proud of everybody is the biggest feeling that I have right now.
Is this your first kind of film event in ABQ?
No, actually, last year we showed Blaze You Out here. I am good friends with Ivan Wiener, who runs the AFME. [The film] was making it's run through Red Box and video-on-demand and he actually brought our film to the festival. We had premiered at the Miami Film Festival last year, then we had a follow up at AFME.
What's the work-to-fun ratio when you're attending these festivals?
All festivals are very, very busy. They take a lot of time and energy. You're going from parties to red-carpet events to interviews, so there's a lot of coordination. Some people think it's all fun and games. A lot of time it's fun, but it's narrowly-coordinated fun, which sometimes is just like work. It's always good to participate in festivals and meet other film-makers. That's the biggest thing I try to do outside my responsibilities, is watch the other films. I'll go to festivals and just watch films, even though I don't have anything showing.
What's happening with Drunktown? We heard it was sold after Sundance, so how does the process work from here? Will they putting it in theats or on video or what?
Usually, you make your festival run with these independent films, and then you get your distribution lined up. They like to get local critics and international critics involved during film festivals, as well as what kind of sales and film distribution. You probably won't see anything in theaters until the end of the year or beginning of next year. Sometimes, they'll do what's called art-house screening, where they'll gather feedback from test audiences.
What's the scoop with A Man Named Paul? We understand the writer wanted your involvement, specifically.
Yes, because of my relationship with Ivan, who is the producer of the film. They reached out to me. They sought me out, directly. I met with Jordee Arvin Wester, the director, and he told me what he wanted to accomplish with the film, and I was all on-board. I think with this project, they had a singular purpose. And, that purpose was to tell this story. I think it's a very powerful short.
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