Linda Dubler made it possible for Atlanta film enthusiasts to see a wider world from the unfamiliar perspective of filmmakers beyond America's borders.
As High Museum curator of film, she was the imaginative programmer for films screened at the High's Rich Auditorium for more than a quarter of a century, adding a constant international ingredient to Atlanta's arts mix.
Ms. Dubler, 60, of Atlanta died Thursday at Hospice Atlanta of myelofibrosis, a form of bone marrow cancer. Her family plans a memorial service for her in the near future. Cremation Society of Georgia is in charge of arrangements.
“This a huge loss for the High and Atlanta’s film community," said High Museum Director Michael Shapiro. "Linda worked tirelessly for 26 years to bring our audiences the best films from around the world, including many that might never have been seen in Atlanta.”
She inspired staff and patrons to expand their film repertoire, Mr. Shapiro said, many times introducing them to their first foreign film experience and creating lifelong fans.
In a 2005 Atlanta Journal-Constitution interview, Ms. Dubler said she knew expatriates in Atlanta were eager to see films from their homelands, citing as examples the Persian and Latin American film fans who flock to High screenings.
But, she said, it was just as important for Americans to see foreign-made films. "We're used to exporting our sensibility, not importing other sensibilities," she said. "International film makes the world much larger."
Gayla Jamison, an Atlanta documentary filmmaker, said Ms. Dubler had a sophisticated taste that was open to other cultures. "Linda didn't travel a lot, but the programming she did for the High enabled its filmgoers to travel great distances on trips of the mind.
"The reason Linda was so good was because she loved films and filmmakers and film watchers and loved to put them all together," Ms. Jamison said.
Carol Thompson, the High's curator of African art, said Ms. Dubler was a supportive colleague and friend. In conjunction with an exhibition of Ms. Thompson's in 2002, "Linda selected ‘Karmen Gei,' a provocative Senegalese film made in 2001. As always, Linda's programming was up-to-date, daring and wise. It played to a full house in the Rich auditorium."
Felicia Feaster, an Atlanta writer and editor, said Ms. Dubler exemplified what a curator should be, both elevating taste and engaging with the community in which she lived.
"In an age when true communal film culture seems to be disappearing as people retreat to Netflix and the latest Hollywood blockbuster, Linda played an enormous part of keeping the art of film alive in Atlanta," she said.
Ms. Dubler brought some of international cinema's shining lights, such as Pedro Almodovar and Bertrand Tavernier, to speak at the High. And she sought contributions from Atlanta's film community for her ambitious "Festival of Fantasy and the Surreal" series that coincided with the High's Dali exhibition.
For all her sophistication, Ms. Dubler was truly interested in what others were looking for in films, said a friend, Amy Landesberg of Atlanta. "Linda had an encyclopedic knowledge of films herself, but she was so unpretentious that you never felt she thought less of your own film likes and dislikes," she said.
Eleanor Ringel Cater, former AJC film critic now with the Atlanta Business Chronicle, said Ms. Dubler was an Atlanta film lover's best friend. "Not only did she handle her program at the High with grace, smarts and extraordinary humor, but she provided a kind of blessed touchstone for so many people, no matter what their connection to the movies."
A New Jersey native, Ms. Dubler attended the Philadelphia College of Art, majoring in metals and jewelry, then earned a master of fine arts degree in film studies at New York University. She came to Atlanta in 1981 as program director for the IMAGE Film/Video Center and moved to the High as film curator in 1985.
Survivors include her husband, Wayne Barksdale; a son, Sam Barksdale of Atlanta; and two brothers, Richard Dubler of Newton, Mass., and Dr. Glenn Dubler of Barrington, R.I.
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Credit: JOHN SPINK / AJC