Bachelor's degree in English literature, University of Pennsylvania; Master's degree and Ph.D. in English literature, University of Colorado-Boulder.
Howie's formal training came through his study of literature. He began watching, then making films in graduate school, which led to teaching and writing critique pieces. Howie is now the director of film education in the College of Arts & Media at the University of Colorado Denver. He helped start the Starz FilmCenter and has programmed a number of individual programs and series there – including weekends of “banned films,” and retrospectives (sometimes with filmmakers appearing in person) of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, editor Dede Allen, Charles Burnett, screenwriter Larry Gross, producer Frank Marshall, Japanese director Yasujiro Ozu and others. Howie also curates and presents the monthly Tattered Cover/Colorado Public Radio Film Series at the Starz FilmCenter and is one of the two teachers in The Telluride Film Festival’s Student Symposium. He also makes features on film subjects for NPR.
1997 Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts and several awards for films made with co-writer, director and editor Linda Williams.
Q & A
How I became a film critic:
In graduate school, while working hard in medieval literature, my closest friend was working in film, and, by chance I met a young guy who was a film critic in Chicago. He grew up to be Roger Ebert, and between these two friends, I veered toward film. Friends in my “Beowulf“ seminar knew that something was changing when I wrote about “Beowulf” using Soviet filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein’s theory of montage. About 10 years after I began at KCFR, I asked CPR President Max Wycisk why he took me on as film critic. He said that lots of people wanted to “be” the film critic, but I was the only one who wanted to do the work.
My greatest success as a film critic:
Here are two: First, an unknown film called “Strangers in Good Company,” made by Canadian filmmaker Cynthia Scott in 1990, was scheduled to play for four days at Denver’s Mayan Theater. My review kept it in town for a month. Second, an overlooked film, “Maborosi,” by the great Japanese director Kore-Eda, came to the area for one night. My review (there were no others) filled the house with people who seemed much satisfied afterward.
Favorite films and filmmakers:
There are many. Anything and everything by Jean Renoir, Agnes Varda, Ernst Lubitsch and Robert M. Young. “The Godfather;” Chaplin’s “City Lights.” “The Gold Rush,” “The Immigrant,” “Easy Street” and “Modern Times.” “Tokyo Story” and “The Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice” by Yasujiro Ozu; Stan Brakhage’s handpainted films; Charles Burnett’s “Killer of Sheep,” “Meet Me in St. Louis,” Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, ‘30s screwball comedy, Preston Sturges, Ingmar Bergman, Cary Grant, Irene Dunne, F.W. Murnau’s “Sunrise,” “Chunhyang” by Im Kwon Taek, Hou Hsiao Hsien’s “The Puppetmaster,” Buster Keaton, Buster Keaton and Buster Keaton. And lots more.