Swashbucklers engage in swordplay during the Roswell Filmfest and Cosmicon at the Roswell Mall, Saturday. (Mark Wilson Photo)
Actresses in formal dresses and actors in fancy ties make their way down the red carpet to the Roswell Filmfest and Cosmicon Gala as lights flash and cameras snap.
A general murmur of conversation fills Pearson Auditorium at New Mexico Military Institute Saturday night as guests wait impatiently for the crowning moment of RFC: the premiere and awards ceremony of the four sci-fi films that competed in this year’s Shootout.
As the lights dim the audience goes silent. Then out of the darkness, the stage rises to reveal Qui-Gon Jinn and Darth Maul, eyes locked and lightsabers drawn in preparation for battle. Their lightsabers flash back and forth, streaks of green and red, as they battle to the death.
“Can you say alternate ending?” says Qui-Gon Jinn, aka Mark Vasconcellos, as the battle ends, and he finds himself miraculously alive and victorious.
Vasconcellos, the master of ceremonies, cuts right to the chase:
“I think we can get right to the movies,” he says. “Have I talked long enough? Are you bored yet?” So he quickly reminds the audience to be courteous — “Turn off your cell phones, turn off your lightsabers” — and with that the first of four films begins.
“Angels Over Roswell” takes a different look at the 1947 alien crash experiments, appealing to emotions as the drama builds and the end reveals governmental experimentation on children that makes them look like aliens.
Next up is “Earthbound.” The audience is taken on an emotional ride as the main character tries to determine what it is to be human, and eventually learns a father’s last memory before death is also a message meant for his son: a message of love he was never able to deliver, but that made its way to the son by means of an extraterrestrial spirit.
“Sci-fi with a little twist of humanity,” Vasconcellos says as the second movie comes to an end.
Switching things up and lightening the mood a little, “How We Got Here Today” added some comedy. Taking a different spin on the Roswell crash, Bill Gates is abducted by aliens and becomes the “crash” when he is returned to Earth. It is at this crash site that he finds pieces of a computer, something that was alien technology.
The final film, and what is the first episode in what will become a TV series, is “Tailed.” Taking place in a time of revolution, a man is determined to save his wife and daughter, but in his desperation overlooks the danger right in front of him.
Each film receives whoops and applause. Each one is incredibly different and unique, and after all four films are viewed, it’s time for the awards.
“Angels Over Roswell” wins Best Art Direction and has the actor, Carlos Montoya, who wins Best Actor. “Earthbound” is awarded Best Visual Effects, Best Cinematography and Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell Award for Best Editing. Finally, the Roswell Daily Record Award for Best Screenplay and Mine That Bird Award for Best Picture go to “Tailed,” whose director, Donovan Fulkerson, wins Best Director and actress Rachel Graves walks away with Best Actress.
But one award is different from all the rest, so the question still remains: who will win the Audience Choice Award? As Vasconcellos steps forward with a “Lightsaber Meter” audience members scream, whistle and cheer for their favorite film. There is no question about who the winner is: “Tailed.”
From start to finish all the film crews worked incredibly hard and pulled out some individually unique films. As Vasconcellos says it: “Impressive all around.”