About The Plaza Classic Film Festival

The Plaza Classic Film Festival was created in 2008 to celebrate our rich cinema history and rekindle the joy of communal film-going – perfectly exemplified by the historic and newly restored, Plaza Theatre. The Plaza Theatre, in downtown El Paso, Texas, was built during the Great Depression (at a cost of $1 million) and opened on September 12, 1930. Built in the “atmospheric” architectural style (in which you feel you are sitting out of doors in the courtyard of a Spanish hacienda), the Plaza Theatre was the grandest of the region’s movie palaces.

After a continuous run of over four and a half decades, the Plaza closed for good in the late ‘seventies and was threatened with demolition. Immediately, grassroots efforts arose to save the Plaza from the wrecking ball and the El Paso Community Foundation stepped in to take up the challenge of saving, preserving and finally restoring the Plaza Theatre. After many years of effort and almost $30 million, the Plaza Theatre once again reopened as the Plaza Theatre Performing Arts Center on March 17, 2006.

Now the home of the El Paso Symphony Orchestra and El Paso’s finest venue for music concerts and Broadway shows, the Plaza Theatre was missing just one component: a film projection system. Once again, the El Paso Community Foundation took the lead to fully restore this venerable movie palace to its historic glory: in the spring of 2008 the Foundation purchased and installed a state-of-art film and digital projection system and an enormous 50’ wide screen.

For generations of El Pasoans, going to the movies, meant going to the Plaza Theatre. Thanks to the overwhelming community and corporate support during the Plaza Classic Film Festival’s first year, the festival has become one of the most anticipated events in the region’s cultural calendar.

The Plaza Classic Film Festival is more than a nostalgia trip. One of the goals of the festival is to educate audiences about the history and art of the cinema and reawaken the joy of watching great films. With the help of special presenters and through our educational outreach programs and film talks, the festival provides many opportunities to expand your knowledge and appreciation of these “classics”. We are also committed to using the festival to look forward, and each festival includes programs to showcase the talents of local independent filmmakers.

The Plaza Theatre is, without a doubt, one of the finest movie palaces in the country. Equally impressive is the fact that the Plaza Classic Film Festival is a non-commercial, all-volunteer endeavor and a special project of the El Paso Community Foundation. All proceeds from the festival go to the Plaza Film Fund to be used to provide grants to local filmmakers, underwriting for alternative film festivals and to support educational film initiatives in the area.

Find out more about the Plaza Theatre’s History