Historic New Mexico film archive needs new home

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – New Mexico is making a name for itself as a filmmaker’s haven. Between the studios and film school programs, there’s a lot to be excited about. But it’s a tough time for one group working to preserve New Mexico’s film history. 

Basement Film Archive is home to more than 10,000 reels of film, some nearly 100 years old. They’re all carefully watched over by archive president Bryan Konefsky. 

“There’s a lot of New Mexico specific films. And so, looking at the collection now, especially because we have to move it. It’s very nostalgic, and kind of heartbreaking in a way,” said Konefsky.

For the last seven years, the basement film archives were housed by UNM’s film school at their Mesa Del Sol campus, and over the years they have gotten quite the collection. 

“We have the entire Albuquerque Public School Systems collection of educational films,” Konefsky said gesturing to a rack before rounding the corner. “These are all films from the south Broadway Cultural Center and have really interesting titles. This here is a collection of films that are all declassified military experiments from Kirtland Air Force Base.” 

But recently the university announced everyone needs to clear out of the Aperture Center in Mesa Del Sol to update the HVAC system, but Basement Film Archives were given a different reason to start packing. 

“Only a couple of weeks ago, we were told well, you’re not going to be welcomed back. They want to use this space for a classroom or something. There’s so many empty classroom spaces around campus, it’s, it’s a shame,” Konefsky said. “I think it’s a very short-sighted decision to not support this archive.” 

So the search on for a new home. And they are hoping to find another donated space like they had at UNM or somewhere affordable. 

“We are actually reducing the size of the collection, getting rid of a lot of duplicate films and such. So we’re only going to need about 1,000 square feet,” Konefsky said. 

Konefsky would love to keep the archive in Albuquerque and says because they are a 501-c3 anyone who donates their space would be eligible for a tax write off. But most of all he wants to continue to share his love for film. 

“This celluloid history is where all the language and the technology in the new newer digital realm came from, and we like to keep it alive as much as we can,” Konefsky said.

If you have a space available you can reach Basement Films at basementfilms.av@gmail.com or over the phone at (505)-916-1635.