Unlikely, yet historically accurate stories can make for great film material. They’re sometimes more compelling than anything the imagination can conjure. Such is the case with Moses on the Mesa, a short by Creative Writing Course Director Paul Ratner. The film tells the story of Solomon Bibo, a German Jewish immigrant who became governor of a Native American tribe in New Mexico in the late 1800s. Ratner came across the story of Bibo while living in New Mexico a few years ago. He said he was drawn to the story since he is an immigrant himself.
“Solomon learned a number of Native American languages, became a trusted and important trader in the territory, and married the granddaughter of the tribe’s former governor,” says Ratner. “I thought such an unusual intersection of ancient cultures would make for an amazing film. There have been many tales told of life in the Wild West, but I haven’t seen this one.”
Moses on the Mesa has won two film festival awards so far. In June, it won the Best Short Audience Award at the Albuquerque Film & Media Experience, where it premiered. In October, it was named Best Short at the Orlando Film Festival. Moses on the Mesa has also screened at the Raindance Film Festival in London, the B16 Short Film Festival in the Czech Republic, and the Santa Fe Film Festival. Upcoming screenings include the Native American Indian Film & Video Festival in South Carolina (Nov. 1-6), the LA Skins Fest in Los Angeles (Nov. 16), and the Palm Beach Jewish Film Festival (Jan. 22 and 23).
Ratner said the film was also screened in San Francisco in front of descendants of the Bibo family, as well as at Acoma Pueblo for the current Governor of Acoma and the Tribal Council. “It was a real honor to meet the Governor as well as the people whose life and history are intertwined with our film’s story,” says Ratner.
Moses on the Mesa was mixed on Full Sail’s dub stage, and several Full Sail staff members and/or graduates were involved in sound editing and mixing for the film. They include Supervising Sound Editors/Re-Recording Mixers Dave Chmela, M.P.S.E. and Michael Orlowski, M.P.S.E., Sound Designer Colin Hart, Sound Editors Eric Fazzini and Adam Fergeson, Mix Assistant Nicholas Seamen, and intern Alexander Verbitskiy.
Ratner said he is considering distributing the short online via Amazon and iTunes. His team’s larger plan is to turn the short into a feature film. “We have a large social media following of people around the world who are interested in seeing this story,” says Ratner. Hopefully the excitement that the film is generating now on the festival circuit will help us make the feature a reality soon.”