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Albuquerque Film and Music Experience: The Southwest's Premier Creativity Themed Event

When it comes to historic and scenic vacation destinations in the Southwestern United States, Albuquerque is near the top of every list. With a history dating back thousands of years to the Native American tribes that originally settled and thrived in the area. The first Europeans to colonize the area were the Spanish, who arrived in the region during the 1540’s. Albuquerque wasn't established until 1706, when King Philip of Spain decided to build a city on the banks of the Rio Grande River.


The city was established as a farming community and strategic military outpost, and remained that way until the Civil War. The “Battle of Albuquerque” was fought in 1862 as part of the Civil War, but it lasted only a few days and resulted in few casualties. With the coming of the 20th century, Albuquerque sought to establish itself an economic leader in the region. Residents established a new and extensive infrastructure system to support population growth, businesses, and visitors to the community. This helped Albuquerque grow into the economic powerhouse and can't-miss destination that it is today.


There are multiple factors that contribute to Albuquerque being one of the top destinations for tourists in the region. The weather here is remarkable with low humidity during spring and temperatures averaging in the low 70’s. This weather combined with  breathtaking natural surroundings make this a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. Regularly ranked as one of “America's Fittest Cities” by Men’s Health, you’ll find more activities here than you could possibly try during one visit. From braving the white water rapids via raft on the Rio Grande, to teeing off at one of the local championship level golf courses, Albuquerque is loaded with wide selection of outdoor things to do.


Aside from all the outdoor activities you’ll find the city has quite a rich history and creative community. Hundreds of art galleries, exhibits and shows offer impressive displays of modern art, as well as a comprehensive look at the art of the Native Americans who originally settled the land. No matter your reason for visiting, this city has something for you.


A great way to get a unique Albuquerque experience is by participating in one of the spectacular local events like the Albuquerque Film and Music Experience. This unique gathering brings filmmakers, musicians and artists together under one roof for the opportunity to network and collaborate in the future. In addition to attracting famous individuals from the film industry over only four short years of existence, this year’s event is expected to attract over 10,000 people. You're in for a VIP experience at the event itself. From music classes with famous musicians to screening movies and learning to write movie scripts, this event has it all! got the chance to speak to Ivan Wiener, the Executive Director of the Albuquerque Film and Music Expierece, to talk about this uniqe event.


RAL: Give me a little background about your organization.

IW: The AFME Foundation, a nonprofit 501 (c)(3) organization, supports the nurturing and growth of a vibrant creative community, specifically through film, music and the arts, and seeks to help further a world-class economic center of excellence for these industries in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It produces the Albuquerque Film & Music Experience (AFME), an annual film and music festival that attracts prominent attendees, filmmakers, musicians, and visionaries from around the globe to celebrate the art of storytelling and collaborate into the future.  The Foundation also supports the Albuquerque film, music, and art scenes through creation, facilitation and support of complimentary, mission-based projects and programs. Our purpose is to provide opportunities for future generations while increasing exposure and economic impact for the City of Albuquerque, the State of New Mexico, and our partners.


Now in its 4th year, AFME hosts over 6,000 attendees and presents domestic and international movies, engaging industry panels and workshops, exciting networking events, live music and poetry performances, art exhibitions, and an extraordinary platform to build strong personal and professional relationships.


RAL: Tell me a little bit about the event.

IW: The inaugural year was 2013 and we had guests such as Robert Redford, Giancarlo Esposito, Robert Lynch (CEO of Americans for the Arts), and musician Thomas Dolby.


This year we are expecting around 10,000 people in attendance. Our program provides events and movies for all demographics. A favorite for families and children will certainly be the 45th Anniversary Screening of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory with a sing-along and costume contest. A lot of couples enjoy movies, concerts, intimate conversations with talent, food events, and after-parties with live music.


RAL: What makes this event unique?

IW: AFME really brings filmmakers, musicians and artists together to co-create into the future.  Through funds raised, we provide scholarships to students of the arts in New Mexico. Unlike many of the major film festivals like Tribeca, Cannes, and Toronto, talent and industry professionals are a handshake away.


RAL: Take me through a day at the event?  

IW: Attendees can expect the ultimate experience! From the opening night reception to the conclusion at the awards banquet, attendees will love the activities they find here. Some things to do include: watching movies, listening to panels, fundraising screenings and spending time in the AFME VIP Lounge. If you’d like to get a more hands-on experience, stop by activities like the screenwriting workshop, bass guitar clinic with Nathan West, and the feature documentary “Nathan East: For the Record” followed by a concert tribute to Nathan East with special guests Greg Phillinganes (Musical Director for Michael Jackson and The Grammys) and Steve Ferrone (drummer for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers).


RAL: Will there be any guest appearances?

IW: Yes, Chris Gero of Yamaha Entertainment Group, legendary bassist Nathan East, Robert Redford, Wes Studi, screenwriter Bettina Gilois, actress Annika Marks and many more.


RAL: What is the overall environment like?

IW: Fun, inspiring, educational. An incredible networking environment between movies and events where all attendees have a chance to get to know one another and support each other’s projects in the festival. The goal is to create an environment for attendees to get to know one another and co-create into the future.


RAL: What can an attendee expect to find for local lodging? Are there any lodging specials that are set up specifically for the event?

IW: Albuquerque Embassy Suites and Spa is our host hotel. Crowne Plaza Albuquerque is our overflow hotel and a lot of attendees elect to stay at bed and breakfasts as well. The block at Embassy Suites is full, but Crowne Plaza is offering a discounted rate of $64.00 per night, including breakfast, for AFME attendees.


RAL: What does this event mean to the community?  

IW: AFME is a community driven event with support from over 100 partners and 250 volunteers.  Everyone takes great pride in our experience and the economic impact is quite large. Our event has introduced an average of $2.8 million into the local economy since inception in 2013.

The AFME Foundation is our non-profit, 501 (c)(3) organization that provides scholarships, internships and production experience opportunities to high school and college students.


RAL: Why should people come to your event?

IW: What makes AFME memorable is the intimacy and high service levels provided for all attendees by our staff, volunteers, hotels, restaurants and sponsors.  I used to be the Head Concierge at the Watergate Hotel in Washington, DC, and service is my number one priority.  We make attendees feel at home, and part of the overall program.


For more information about the Albuquerque Film and Music Experience, please visit their website.