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Nouvelle Vague

April 13, 2009, 12:00 am
By Patricia Sauthoff
Le Signe du LionLe Signe du Lion

On Friday the New Mexican published a comprehensive story about the clusterfuck that is Santa Fe's indie movie house scene.

The gist of the changes are such:

*The Screen may or may not move into the New Mexico Film Museum theater, depending on what happens with CSF and the land on which The Screen currently sits. (When that will be known is still up in the air.)

*The Santa Fe Film Center needs a new home and will be moving into the New Mexico Film Museum theater through at least the end of May and will be closed the week of April 19 for the move.

*The CCA stays where it is (figured we'd toss that one in there to round out the indie theater thing).

The Screen has been through a bit of turmoil since the beginning of the year as it was slated to close in January, was bailed out for a bit before, in February, Governor Richardson stepped in with some state cash to keep the reels rolling.

Some cynics out there are probably thinking something along the lines of, "why do we need this many theaters in town?" Well, first of all, because I don't want to follow the hordes to the theater to check out the Hannah Montana movie. (Really people, $35 million in one weekend?)

There is, of course, a huge market for mindless escapism and I'm the first to rewatch Mallrats again and again when in a bad mood but generally film is more like a trip to the used bookstore. The medium offers the kind of escapism that good literature fulfills and to see a classic and important film on the big screen is a delight.

In fact, some of my best memories in Santa Fe have been at these indie theaters. There was the 9 am viewing of Drawing Restraint 9 at CCA that made me want to trash Walgreens when I left. The Derrida documentary I went to alone at The Screen three days after moving to Santa Fe and the Iranian film brought to town by the New Mexico Coalition to End the Death Penalty, Daybreak, that reconnected me with my current roommate.

Granted, if we didn't have these theaters I'd still find the weird movies I spend most of my viewing time watching (thank you Criterion Collectionwell, except for The Rock) but if it weren't for these theaters my absolute love of French New Wave cinema certainly never would have been as solidified as it has been. Breathless is good but it's Contempt (because I am, apparently, a bitter, bitter woman) that really makes me love Godard.

We're lucky, living in a town as small as Santa Fe to get the kind of movies that these indie theaters offer. Growing up in a big city we really didn't have that. Sure, we got the new indie flicks up in Denver but no classics. No Roman Holiday, no Film Noir festivals and certainly no Bergman.

Santa Fe's cinemas feel more European than American and that's a good thing. Hell, I'm heading to London for a vacation (I know, Santa Fe won't be the same for two whole weeks!) and in my research of local movie houses I found myself impressed, not with them but with us. (That's not to say I won't be spending a good chunk of my time over there in the dark.) Both the Barbican Theatre and BFI are busting out with screenings of Truffaut's 400 Blows but it's BFI that shall steal my heart with it's New Wave festival and movie/concert combo of Harold and Maude and Lightspeed Champion!

And I thought you could only see movies like this in Santa Fe!

 

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