Basement Films

Years ago when I first moved to Houston, TX, one of my first artistic introductions to the city was Aurora Picture Show, a non-profit micro-cinema that presents artist-made, non-commercial film and video. When I recently decided to move to Albuquerque, I hoped for a similar introduction by way of Basement Films. The following profile, courtesy of the organization’s president Bryan Konefsky, highlights their commitment to independent and experimental cinema.

Basement Films

Address: PO Box 9229, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87119
Phone: 505-916-1635
Open hours: We don’t have open hours – we advertise periodic film screenings and film workshop events. 

How is the project operated?
We are a 501(c)3 non profit organization.
How long in existence?
Since 1991.
What was your motivation?
Basement Films is a non-profit, volunteer-run organization that supports experimental, independent, and under-represented forms of film and video making. We screen unique, moving image work by artists from around the world, provide a forum for voices not heard in mainstream media, and serve as a resource for artists, filmmakers, and students interested in exploring new and experimental approaches to moving image art.
Basement Films facilitates filmmaking workshops at a variety of educational institutions including the University of New Mexico, the Albuquerque Academy, Highlands University, and Amy Biel High School. Central to these workshops is nurturing a sense of voice and media empowerment. Additionally, Basement Films also hosts a high school internship program that exposes younger students to alternative possibilities in a mainstream-media-saturated-world.
Additionally, our projection equipment and film archive of more than 7,000 industrial, educational and ephemeral 16mm movies are available for use by artists, filmmakers, and the community. The archive consists of movies produced between the 1950s and 1970s which were used to socialize students, train employees and present a particular moral view of the world at community centers. Only recently are these films being saved and recognized for their historic value. Basement Films archive is substantial and remarkably intact. We value these recorded histories and respect these films that we have been entrusted to preserve and share with the community.
Number of organizers?
We currently have approximately 12 members in our organization who have varied interests in alternative cinematic practices – some are university professors, some working artists, some musicians, some film buffs.
How are programs funded?
Our funding comes primarily from grant organizations such as The Trust For Mutual Understanding, The National Endowment For The Humanities’ We The People initiative, The New Mexico Humanities Council, The McCune Charitable Foundation, New Mexico Arts.
Funding for our activities also comes from donations, ticket sales, enrollment in workshops, and honorariums that Basement Films receives for performances and presentations at film and art festivals.
Who is responsible for the programming?
Different members take on different projects depending on interests. Some members work closely with the spoken word community in Albuquerque to collaborate on projects, some work closely with the music scene to collaborate on projects, and some work closely with the school
system to facilitate workshops and screenings. For example Bryan Konefsky is the artistic director of the annual Experiments in Cinema Film Festival, one of our most high profile events.
Number and average duration of events?
We produce 6-10 events annually which may include The A/V Show (pairing musicians and filmmakers in multi media performances); screenings at libraries (films are culled from our collection of 7000 educational movies); hands-on filmmaking workshops – mostly executed in middle and high schools around Albuquerque; screenings at schools throughout the year and throughout New Mexico; and Experiments in Cinema film festival.
What kind of events are organized?
All our events are film/moving image based and focus on alternative cinematic practices.
How is your programming determined?
Programming decisions are made collectively by our membership.
Do you accept proposals?
Yes, we are always interested in expanding our events/programming and becoming more familiar with artists’ interests and projects.
What is your artistic and curatorial approach?
We are interested in many different creative approaches to moving image art however, we are not interested in the kind of cinema one would encounter at a cinemaplex movie theater. We are deeply invested in cinematic experimentation.
What’s working and what is not?
Our annual Experiments In Cinema Film Festival is the most successful activity we have produced to date – It is now in it’s seventh year and contains/encapsulates most of the varied activities that we have been involved in over the years.
What role do you hope to play in your local art scene/community?
Our goal is to introduce the community to alternative cinematic practices, inspire them to recognize the value of their own media voices, make movies in ways we never imagined possible and to then participate in shaping future trends in cultural representation.
What idea are you most excited about for the future?
The idea of invention!

Images courtesy of Basement Films.

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