100 Colorado Creatives: Keith Garcia, Denver Film Society
Carly Rose Moser
#80: Keith Garcia For a certain cross-section of local cinemaphiles, Keith Garcia is a beloved figure. The longtime program director for the Denver Film Society and its commercial film venue, the Sie FilmCenter, he knows his medium backwards, forwards and inside out, from the revered classic canon to the outer limits of genre film. And as a deftly creative programmer, he aims to please the widest-possible cross-section of filmgoers.
But even a guy with one of the most unique jobs in Denver can have dreams. Garcia's most pressing dream right now is his desire to research and craft an in-depth documentary about local drag queens. And to that end, he's taking a month-long sabbatical to get that second act together and spend some time behind the camera, instead of curating the cinematic endeavors of others. No worries, though. He'll be back at the Sie in no time.
The other thing about Garcia? He's a sweetheart. Plus, he has a lot to say about everything: For instance, our 100CC questionnaire. Read on to learn more about Keith Garcia's view of the arts.
The softer side of Keith Garcia.
Westword: If you could collaborate with anyone in history, who would it be, and why?
Keith Garcia: I actually have two people that have always stuck in the back of my mind: artist Keith Haring and disco singer Sylvester, both great gay icons if ever there were. When I was fifteen, I was coming into my own homosexuality looking for gay role models to walk me through the forest, and I found a connection in both of their stories. I needed guidance and both were men who weren't afraid to be themselves, had such incredible visions, left their mark in their own special ways and whose stories couldn't be more different. But they shared these fine threads of connection and probably never really knew each other.
They both died about two years apart from each other, when I was just coming into my own, and I stumbled upon their separate works at just the right moment. When I was so young and dreaming of films to make in my adulthood, I wrote a screenplay that was a biopic for both using Keith's art to illustrate Sylvester's story and Sylvester's music to color Keith's. It's a project that's still on my to-do list but damn, if it wouldn't be incredible if both of those men were still around to influence my direction.
Keith Garcia, as Hitchcock (far right), and the FilmCenter gang, paying tribute to film.
em>Who in the world is interesting to you right now, and why?
I have a personal goal in life to meet filmmaker Pedro Almodovar, not because I want to work with him (I would pass out ever yday if that was the case), but because I want him to tell me stories and take me on a trip to all of the locations of his films and show me how to see the world in the exciting way he does. He's carried a filmmaking career more years than I've been alive and his new films just keep getting better and better. I could spend one million words telling you what is so great about him, but I think that anyone who watches any of his films just automatically gets that, and I'm not really interested in talking to any folks who don't.
What's one art trend you want to see die this year?
Not so much die, but I would actually like to plot the bloody murder of the shift from 35mm film to digital cinema. I'm not going to get on a soap-box, because I think that 80 percent of modern movie-goers have no conscious idea if what they're watching is on celluloid is just a series of 0s and 1s, and I've yelled myself hoarse over the issue. It boggles my mind and gets me heated, but I know the only thing I can do is bring as much 35mm film to the Sie FilmCenter and keep it alive in my own small ways. Be it a classic French film from the `50s (this month's Pierre Etaix tribute fits that) or one of my favorite underrated `80s classics (look for next month's screenings of The Last American Virgin) I'ma keep on bringing that celluloid to your eyeballs.
What's your day job?
I manage the programming at the Denver Film Society and, in particular, our home theater the Sie FilmCenter. In short; I pick the movies that you get to choose from at our place, and I love it. I recently told a story for The Narrators, where I waxed a bit on being an "authority" on something and how, when it comes to programming, I feel like a lucky fraud who just hasn't been found out yet for getting such joy out of watching and sharing films with everyone, like someone's going to bust into my office and take me away to a job that makes me want to stab my face with a nail. I take it very seriously when folks tell me "thanks" for bringing things to the Sie, because somewhere along the way I made a decision that a title deserved to hit our screen and then spent weeks trying to convince people that they need to spend ninety minutes of their time to give it a shot. People keep telling me, "Thank you!" and not "Fuck You!" -- so I'll take that any way I can.
Keith Garcia and actress/stuntwoman Zoe Bell, at SDFF35.
A mystery patron offers you unlimited funds for life. What will you do with it?
Donate a yearly sum to my favorite film society (financial peace of mind for a film non-profit is something I toss and turn over). Then, I'd buy some camera equipment and start going down my laundry list of film projects I've wanted to make since I was seventeen. I'd make as many mistakes as I possibly could and hope to come up with some sweet successes. There's really no reason that I couldn't do the latter now, but I still have some pangs of fear that get in the way of my punching my fist in the air while a Simple Minds song plays on my soundtrack.
What's the one thing Denver (or Colorado) could do to help the arts?
Actually BE a patron of the arts and support local non-profits as much as you can. See a cool exhibit coming up? GO to it. A great band going to play a show? GO to it. And make yourself even minutely aware of the local people behind your favorite galleries and venues. All of our programming is done in our office on York Street (not in a corporate office in L.A.) and it's made with YOU in mind. It may be a conflict of interest (I want to punch that term in the face, I've heard it so often lately), but BECOME a member of the Denver Film Society and, with the discounted price as one of your benefits, see TWO films a week at the Sie FilmCenter for two months. It may just save your soul. Taking a chance on a little film that you know nothing about can feel like winning the lottery when it touches you in the right places (bathing suit areas count, too!). When you don't support something, it always runs the risk of going away forever.
Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?
Your list thus far is too good to single out any single individual. I'm just going to say that I'm honored to even be considered for such a title, and I hope that some day, you can be our Nick Fury and activate us all into some kind of giant cast of creative super heroes, and we can protect Denver with our imagination, will and ability to shoot lasers out of our eyes (that one might just be me though...).
What's coming up for you in 2013?
SO MUCH. I've got a spark to light up the screens at the Sie with some awesomesauce programming this summer and fall, and I'm currently on a monthlong break to get started directing my first film project, a documentary that turns a lens onto Denver's varied and fascinating drag community. There's a bunch of fascinating personalities and stories to tell, and I want to make sure that when all is said and done, these amazing performers get a chance to show you what drives them underneath all of the makeup. I'm hoping that this project wakes up the filmmaking beasts buried deep inside of me and that I get to do everything that comes into my weird little head for years to come. All of that and continue my search for a romantic partner-in-crime and the perfect slice of pizza, of course.
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Throughout the year, we'll be casting our radar on 100 superstars from Denver's rich creative community. Stay tuned to Show and Tell for more, or visit the 100 Colorado Creatives archive to catch up.
Who rocks your world locally? Do you have a suggestion for a future profile? Feel free to leave your picks in the comments.
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