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Santa Fe art house cinema to continue operation

SANTA FE – The Center for Contemporary Arts has stepped in to revive The Screen art-house cinema through a newly-formed partnership with city government.

The Screen, which for 20 years operated on the city-owned college campus most recently occupied by the now-defunct Santa Fe University of Art and Design, closed its doors April 30, a few weeks before the school.

It’s programming will resume July 13 as an extension of CCA’s own two-screen Cinematheque, providing a third screen to show films and a place for other kinds of programming

“We’ve been able to take something that people love and were worried about losing and see it revitalized, brought back to life, in a creative partnership,” said Mayor Alan Webber, who said he had contacted CCA executive director Stuart Ashman following The Screen’s shutdown.

The 160-seat theater initially was run by the old College of Santa Fe. The city bought the campus in 2006 when the college closed and had been leasing the site to SFUAD.

For The Screen, CCA has a renewable one-year service value lease with the city, meaning it can provide public services in lieu of rent. An appraisal to determine the facility’s rent value will be done in the next 60 days and CCA will have to match that value in programming or pay the difference, according to Santa Fe’s asset development director Matt O’Reilly.

CCA’s Cinematheque Director Jason Silverman said the nonprofit is planning do as much public programming at The Screen as possible, through community partners and by expanding existing projects like CCA’s Youth Partners Program.

CCA annually serves 1,000 students from schools like Capital High School and Monte del Sol Charter School by screening movies, mostly as part of a science or math curriculum or on subjects like New Mexico history, and providing speakers to discuss the films.

Silverman touted The Screen’s proximity to Santa Fe High and the new Milagro Middle School, meaning CCA could eliminate the expense of busing students to and from the Cinematheque.

“We’re going to be able to do more programming for less money,” he said. “They’ll be able to walk across the street or walk through the gate, and we hope this theater will be filled during the school year with middle school and high school kids.”

The Screen also will show some films that also go to the CCA Cinematheque, depending on popularity or whether they should “connect” well to audiences from Midtown or Southside, areas that Silverman says is not as well served by Santa Fe’s cultural institutions.

A news release said The Screen will have “a specific focus on reaching out to the Midtown and Southside neighborhoods in which the majority of Santa Fe’s working families live.”

Its opening weekend, The Screen will show two new documentaries “Three Identical Strangers” and “Strangers on the Earth” also showing at CCA. The latter, he said, should have citywide reach in Santa Fe because it follows a hiker on the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage in Spain.

More “esoteric” films will likely be shown at one of CCA’s smaller theaters, Silverman said. CCA’s main theater has 120 and its studio theater has 52.

“There will probably be a few fewer films with Bulgarian subtitles,” Silverman said. “And more films in English that are more accessible, and also Spanish language programming, we hope to focus on.”

Opening week also includes free screenings of Pixar short films and a restored version of the 1968 Beatles cartoon movie “Yellow Submarine.” A July 14 free outdoor screening of “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” will be presented on the camps as part of Santa Fe’s Southside Summer initiative.

Webber said he hopes to find other ways to partner with CCA to engage citizens of all ages.

“Keeping this facility alive using it as a social programming opportunity around film and engagement is a perfect blend for a city that increasingly sees itself as in the business of being a national if not global place for tech, entertainment (and) design, to really have a home,” he said.

The Screen’s curator Brent Kliewer will stay on as a curator emeritus, assisting CCA as an advisor. Its former manager Charlotte Martinez has been hired as a CCA employee. The theater will be open each day for its opening week, and likely four to five times a week after that as CCA maneuvers the expansion.