Since everything seems to be in flux in 2021, it only seems right that the world of local movie theaters would face changes as well. Knowing that, say hello to Peter Grendle, the former manager for Santa Fe’s Violet Crown Cinema and now the cinema director at the Center for Contemporary Arts.

“Let’s call it the hardest easy decision to make,” Grendle says of leaving Violet Crown. “While Violet Crown is a triple threat theater [with film, beer and food], and I’m proud of my time there for sure, at CCA I’m charge of the whole thing—I’m picking all the films, the people, and I’m choosing the programming. This is really my first chance in my history [at local theaters] to take over the mantle.”

Grendle moved to Santa Fe in 2004 and worked for The Screen on the Midtown Campus, both when it was operated by the College of Santa Fe and then later Santa Fe University of Art & Design. He’s labored at Violet Crown since it opened in 2015, and says he’s grateful to have been in a position to do some more artistic things there, but that an offer to run a nonprofit theater like the CCA was a no-brainer.

“I would be really remiss if I didn’t take up the CCA’s offer,” Grendle tells SFR. “What kind of city am I leaving my kids if I was offered a job at the only arthouse in town and I told them ‘No, Dad’s not going to go run that.’ There has to be an independent, nonprofit voice if we ever want Santa Fe to be the cinema-loving city it was when I came here.”

Santa Fe does seem to boast an inordinate amount of theaters for a town this size—that’s not even mentioning the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival, the Santa Fe Film Festival (no relation) and the return of SFR’s 3-Minute Film Festival this summer (full disclosure: we’ve partnered with the CCA on that one).

“At CCA, you’re a nonprofit, so you have a lot of allowances and resources and ability—so it’s access, it’s resources, I think, and it’s a desire to build community that really makes it fun,” Grendle adds. “How many times have you sat down to find something new on Netflix and then you just watch Twilight Zone for the millionth time? People need curated films right now, or we’re just going to be watching these comfort food reruns over and over—and the CCA toolbox is huge.”

Grendle reassures that core fans of the local cinema will find plenty to return to once in-person screenings resume, but he also says he’s looking forward to cultivating programming for younger audiences and even future audiences who don’t even know how much they love movies yet. In any case, Grendle says he hopes to make an announcement about the CCA’s Cinematheque space, as well as The Screen, soon.

“If you’re in love with CCA, you’ll absolutely have a home here,” he notes, “but we’re also going to be expanding our offerings and casting our net much wider, because we feel everyone should be included in the reopening of CCA. I’d just like to polish a few things, get a couple things in play before I full confident naming an exact date for our reopening. It’s imminent as soon as it’s responsible to do so, but in the meantime, I want people to reach out to me at peter@ccasantafe.org. We’re coming back strong, not just with a reopening, but with a grand reopening.”