Despite continuing economic woes, the movie industry is apparently still doing well, at least in the Land of Enchantment, making good on its new nickname, "Tamalewood."

Here is an update on five movies with ties to southern New Mexico.

• "The Burning Plain" —Filmed principally in Las Cruces and Oregon in late 2007 and early 2008, the movie has already won one award, though no official U.S. release date has been set.

"The Burning Plain" was released Nov. 14 in Italy and won an award for actress Jennifer Lawrence, who plays Mariana in the film which also stars Charlize Theron, Kim Basinger, Diego Torres and Danny Pino. Lawrence won Italy's Marcello Mastroianni Award.

Guillermo Arriaga, the film's director and screenwriter, has been nominated for The Leone d'Oro (Golden Lion) Award, the highest prize given to a film at the Biennale Venice Film Festival.

According to, "The Burning Plain" has also been screened at Canada's Toronto Film Festival and the Gent International Film Festival in Belgium and dates are set for release in France and Germany in February and in The Netherlands in April. At press time, the film's production company, 2929, had not responded with information about possible North American release dates.

The film has also garnered some early rave reviews.

Critic Lee Marshall of lauded both the film's cast and its director and writer.

"A full-on, Oscar-booking keystone performance by Charlize Theron and a revelatory turn by young newcomer Jennifer Lawrence steer this potentially over-the-top tale, at least most of the time, away from the reefs of implausibility, and the technical credits — most memorably director of production Robert Elswitt's New Mexico landscapes — are all-round impressive," Marshall opined.

The production company hired several local crew and cast members during production in Las Cruces.

• "Men Who Stare at Goats" — George Clooney was wearing a mustache and Army fatigues as filming began this week at New Mexico Military Institute in Roswell on the actor's latest movie, "Men Who Stare at Goats."

Crowds lined up along temporary barricades, hoping to spot Clooney or the film's other notable actors, including Jeff Bridges, Ewan McGregor and Kevin Spacey. All they saw Tuesday were cadets and security guards on patrol.

About 500 Roswell residents were cast as extras.

The film's publicist, Rob Harris, said security is necessary for the movie to be finished on schedule. He thanked Roswell and NMMI officials for being hospitable and "accommodating our needs."

Shooting wraps up at NMMI today.

• "American Tragic" — El Paso-born filmmaker Ryan Piers Williams might shoot some of his first major feature film next year in the Las Cruces-El Paso area, and he could bring girlfriend America Ferrera with him.

The 27-year-old Hanks High grad has written and will direct a war-related movie with the working title "American Tragic," which he described as "about a soldier coming home from the war and trying to reintegrate to society."

Ferrera, star of ABC's "Ugly Betty" and Williams' longtime girlfriend, has signed on to play the soldier's wife. Newcomer Ryan O'Nan will play James, the returning soldier. Melissa Leo, who stars in the current "Frozen River," will play his mother.

Williams said by telephone from Los Angeles that he researched the subject for "three or four years" and took about a year to write the film. Instead of basing the script on one person's story, the USC film school grad said, he drew on the experiences of several soldiers who had returned from Iraq, some of whom are friends.

"I'd talk to people who'd come back," he said. "I kept hearing the same stories over and over about how difficult it was to reintegrate, how difficult it is to find the proper medical attention when they get home."

• "The Book of Eli" — The State Investment Council on Tuesday approved a $15 million loan for "The Book of Eli," a film starring Denzel Washington and Gary Oldman that will shoot in New Mexico next year.

With a projected cost of about $75 million, it's the biggest-budget film the council has underwritten under the state's film investment program.

Set a few decades in the future after a "cataclysmic event," the film features Washington as a lone man walking west across the United States in order to protect a sacred book that holds the secret to saving humankind.

Oldman plays the bad guy trying to stop Washington, Kosove said in an interview. Brothers Allen and Albert Hughes will direct.

Set for release in mid-January 2010, the film will be shot over 63 days in Albuquerque, Carrizozo, Alamogordo and Santa Fe. Shooting begins Feb. 2.

•"Horror in the Wind" — This film was made with a budget less than 1/1,000 of the projected budget for "The Book of Eli." Written and directed by Max Mitchell, the movie was produced by Revision Studios of High Rolls, and made for $53,000.

The movie, shot in Alamogordo, is set in 2017 when Pat Robertson and James Dobson win the White House with a campaign theme of the "War on Sex." The President steals an unvetted formula and spreads it throughout the world. To everyone's shock, the untested Formula 4708 does not suppress sex drive but changes it. Within a week the entire world transforms from 90 percent heterosexual to 90 percent homosexual.

"Horror In the Wind" plays at the Guild Cinema in Albuquerque Dec. 12, 13 and 14. ______________

See more about movies filming in New Mexico by clicking's Who's Filming Now page