It’s great news that the Santa Fe Film Festival has engaged Brent Kliewer as Director of Programming for this year’s Festival October 20-23. Brent loves the movies and knows more about them than anyone I’ve ever met. He’s the guiding force behind The Screen, Santa Fe’s premiere art, classic, and foreign film venue and has been so for the past dozen years.
In 1986, Brent began a decade of building the film program at CCA, which houses the other excellent alternative movie venue in Santa Fe. CCA has just finished a superb renovation to their theater. Though Brent moved on, a tradition of impeccable programming continues.
You remember those charming jewel box cinematheques that sprung up near college campuses in the days before home video? They brought to our towns important works that revealed to us the wide world of different cultures, expanding our big picture, broadening the contexts of our lives. It took a lot of heart to run those little movie houses. Thanks to Brent, Santa Fe had its own, The Jean Cocteau Theater.
I knew about him before, but I came to really appreciate Brent after taking a couple of semesters of film history from him at College of Santa Fe. By the time I found my way there he’d been teaching for years. His lectures flowed effortlessly without notes. The class became more dazzled each day as he explained the ropes from motion-picture patents to starlets and studios, bad breaks to high hopes, maps of power, the Feds, and how a small strip of photos can grow huge with life in our heads.
Along with having been a film critic at the Santa Fe New Mexican for 10 years, Kliewer also contributed a featured essay to the collector’s edition of Alone Across the Pacific, a movie on DVD by master filmmaker, Kon Ichikawa.
It’s odd how movie programmers get so little notice considering how much romance and adventure they inject in our lives. We always honor the actor and filmmaker. Meanwhile, day after day, month after month, for almost thirty years, Brent Kliewer has been helping audiences better understand themselves and their world through the window of moving pictures.
I suppose, if it did draw more attention to him, Brent might not like his job. He’s notoriously modest. Perhaps the best way to appreciate all of his dedication and expertise is to go to the Santa Fe Film Festival this year. I would not dare miss it.