Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Basement Films Finds New Academic Home

Local Arts Org is Moving On Up


After weeks of facing down the prospect of homelessness and even the possible dissolution of its collection, nonprofit arts organization Basement Films has managed to secure a new home here in Albuquerque.

As caretaker of more than 8,00O historical 16mm and 8mm films—most culled from Albuquerque Public Schools, the South Broadway Cultural Center and the private collections of many New Mexican families—Basement Films has operated out of the University of New Mexico's Film & Digital Arts Program, located at Mesa del Sol's Aperture Center, since 2016. Back in June it was announced that the Aperture Center would be renovating its HVAC system. UNM assured Basement Films that it would hire movers to store the extensive historical archive until May of next year, at which point tenants would be moved back into the building. Basement Films was operating under that assumption until early August, when the head of  the UNM Film Department told organizers that they were being unceremoniously evicted and had to be out of the building by Oct. 1. Needless to say, this caused a bit of panic.

But now the entire film collection will be moving to Central New Mexico Community College, back in the University Area. Basement Films membership will work alongside CNM librarians to organize and care for their films, many of which have historical ties to our state. Since its creation back in 1995, the Basement Films archive has been utilized by artists, historians, film enthusiasts and students in New Mexico and beyond. Over the years Basement Films has used the archive for public film screenings, workshops, youth internships and an annual artist residency funded by the National Endowment for the Arts.

"We're relieved the archive is going to stay in Albuquerque, and we couldn't ask for  better partners than the library staff at CNM," says Beth Hansen, vice president of Basement Films. "The media should be viewed, studied, used and enjoyed by the community, and we are excited to continue to work with our partners in Albuquerque and beyond."

"I’ve always thought librarians are super heroes, and those at CNM did not disappoint!" echoes  Basement Films president and founder Bryan Konefsky.

According to Konefsky, CNM contacted them after news came out—including here in The Paper.—about the impending ouster from UNM. In extending the offer to Basement Films, Konefsky says CNM officials made it clear "that they recognize the cultural and historic value of Basement Films' archive. Additionally, they emphasized how committed to the community they are, which all dovetails nicely with Basement Films mission and activities!"

The film archive will remain in storage for the rest of the year but is expected to be open to the public by appointment by 2024.

"This will be a profoundly more fruitful partnership than what we previously experienced, and we can’t wait to start sharing our films and filmmaking sensibilities with students, faculty and the community at CNM," says Konefsky.

To prepare for its big change of location, Basement Films is hosting a Moving Sale this coming Sunday, Sept. 24 from 9am to 4pm. Community members are invited to stop by the Orpheum Community Hub (500 Second St. SW) to check out the selection A/V equipment, materials and more. Projectors, screens, DVDs, VHS tapes, cameras, film strips, 35mm slides, tapes, records and other archival material will be up for sale.


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