Pride of UNM - Albuquerque Journal

Pride of UNM

Aracely Chapa looks for the most captivating way to tell a story.

And on her third documentary for the University of New Mexico, she’s developed a compelling way to keep people’s attention.

“A lot of people don’t realize the impact UNM has had on the community,” she says. “It’s important to get it all right.”

Chapa has helmed “UNM @125” and “Zimmerman @75,” both taking a look at UNM and its library.

The latest is “Popejoy @50,” which premieres at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 23, on KNME, Channel 5.1.

Aracely Chapa
Aracely Chapa

Chapa is the director for Regional Studies, which also funded the documentaries.

The documentary is the story of Popejoy Hall, which recently celebrated its 50th anniversary.

It delves into the difficulties of the hall getting funded and built.

The project was helmed by Thomas L. Popejoy, then the president of UNM, who was determined to build a concert hall on campus.

“Tom Popejoy was very committed,” Chapa says. “What I discovered is that there were plans for a concert hall in Albuquerque that had been in the works since the early 1920s. Until Popejoy Hall was built, the idea kept getting pushed back and funding kept falling through. In 1946, after World War II, a bond issue for a half-million was approved, but no site was determined. It was a long journey.”

In developing the documentary, Chapa was able to speak with Tom Popejoy Jr., who discussed his father’s passion.

“Tom Popejoy Jr. was extremely helpful,” she says. “He’s in the film quite a bit. He dug through his closet to find some family films. Nobody out of his family had seen the videos. It shows Tom Popejoy in a different light. The home movies made a difference.”

During filming, Aracely got an opportunity to go to the green room of Popejoy Hall. There she was able to capture what happens behind the scenes at a show.

There is also a taste of the Broadway shows that come to Popejoy.

“Terry Davis, the marketing manager, was able to help me out on this,” she says. “He was also able to get me some B-roll from some of the productions.”

Chapa says one of the interviews she got was with Hal Holbrook.

Holbrook is a stage and film actor who rose to fame with his one-man stage show performing as Mark Twain.

Holbrook performed at Popejoy Hall in the 1960s and then returned to Popejoy a couple of times in the past few years.

“Hal talks about what it was like to perform in Popejoy Hall,” she says. “And he advocates the importance of taking a child to the theater and exposing them to arts.”

SEND ME YOUR TIPS: If you know of a movie filming in the state, or are curious about one, email film@ABQjournal.com. Follow me on Twitter @agomezART.


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