Elsa Cardenas Renteria was born in Tijuana, Mexico but grew up mostly in Mexico City. She has worked in the Mexican and American film and TV industries, appearing in more than 100 movies and TV shows, including the movies Giant, Fun in Acapulco, The Brave One and Sam Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch. While in high school, Elsa studied drama at the Instituto Cinematografico de Cine, Radio y Television and made her movie debut in Joaquin Pardane’s Magdalena and Emilio Gomez Muriel’s El Joven Juarez, both in 1954. Her first American film was 1956’ The Brave One, which caught the attention of director George Stevens, who cast her as Juana in Giant. Elsa has worked with popular icons of both American and Mexican cinema, starring with Elvis Presley in Fun in Acapulco (1963) and the Mexican wrestler El Santo in several films between 1969 and 1973. She appeared in several horror films, and later had roles in several Mexical telenovelas, including La Mentira (1998), Codigo postal (2006), Fuego en la sangre (2008), Curse by the Sea (2009) and Unforgivable (2015). In 2013, she was honored at the International Horror Film Festival. In 2015, Elsa returned to Marfa for the first time since 1955 and recounted her days working on Giant in Austin director Hector Galan’s documentary Children of Giant.
Elsa Cardenas will appear with Giant at 6 p.m. Saturday, August 6 in the Plaza Theatre's Kendle Kidd Performance Hall. Children of Giant will be shown at 2 p.m. Monday, August 8 in the El Paso Public Library auditorium (with appearances by director Hector Galan and producer Carolyn Pfeiffer). The Brave One will be shown at 2 p.m. Friday, August 12 at the El Paso Public Library.
Candy Clark is an Oklahoma-born, Texas-raised model-turned-actress who received an Academy Award nomination for her portrayal of Debbie Dunham in George Lucas’ 1973 blockbuster American Graffiti. She reprised the role in More American Graffiti and went on to work with some of Hollywood’s biggest stars and best known actors, including John Huston, who directed her in Fat City, and David Fincher, who directed her in Zodiac. She followed American Graffiti with director Nicolas Roeg’s The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976), which marked the movie debut of rocker David Bowie. The movie was shot entirely in New Mexico. Though the bulk of the movie was made in the Albuquerque area, some of it was shot at White Sands National Monument, and in Alamogordo and Roswell. She played Mary-Lou, the maid with whom Bowie’s alien character falls in love. A box-office disappointment when it came out in the United States in 1976, it has since grown in stature, thanks in part to Candy’s successful attempt to get the movie restored with 20 minutes of footage cut from the original release. Candy’s extensive film credits include When You Comin’ Back, Red Ryder? (filmed in El Paso), The Big Sleep *(with Robert Mitchum), *Blue Thunder (with Roy Scheider), At Close Range (with Sean Penn and Christopher Walken), and the 1988 remake of The Blob. Her TV resume includes appearances on Matlock, Magnum, PI, Criminal Minds and the forthcoming Showtime reboot of David Lynch’s Twin Peaks.'
Candy Clark will appear with The Man Who Fell to Earth at 9 p.m. Saturday, August 13 in the Plaza Theatre's Kendle Kidd Performance Hall. She also will sign autographs from 2-3 p.m. Saturday, August 13 in the Foundation Room, 333 N. Oregon (across from San Jacinto Plaza). Admission is free. There will be a small charge for autographs.
Ellar Coltrane’s official biography is short, sweet and to the point. “An actor and artist from Austin, TX,” it reads. “Interested in everything.” He certainly has shown that in a career that began when he made his movie debut at age 8 in Lone Star State of Mind. That was the same year Ellar first stepped in front of the cameras for Richard Linklater’s groundbreaking movie Boyhood. He played Mason in the coming-of-age drama, which was filmed over a 12-year period and earned an Academy Award for costar Patricia Arquette. Ellar has four more movies in various stages of completion: Dog Years, with Burt Reynolds; Drowned, with Rasha Mosa; Barry (about Barack Obama’s college years), with Anya Taylor-Joy and Ashley Judd; and The Circle, with Tom Hanks and Emma Watson. He also is featured in By the River, an experimental documentary by director Kevin Ford (who directed Drowned) that is just beginning to make the film festival rounds. In it, Ellar travels from Austin to El Paso, Albuquerque, Boulder, Reno and northern California recording conversations with various people (including El Paso’s Zach Passero and Justin Stone) about life, creativity and personal growth.
Ellar Coltrane, director Kevin Ford and Zach Passero will appear with By the River at 7 p.m. Saturday, August 6 in the Philanthropy Theatre.
British rock icon Morrissey refuses to watch films released after 1970. Laura Emerick, digital content editor for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and formerly the arts editor of the Chicago Sun-Times, agrees in principle with that philosophy, if not to that extreme. Her all-time favorite films all predate that watershed year: Vertigo (1958), The Leopard (1963), Sweet Smell of Success (1957) and The Grapes of Wrath (1940). Golden-era films are among her passions, and that's why the Plaza Classic Film Festival has become one of her favorite annual destinations. At the Sun-Times, she served for 20 years as the editor for film critic Roger Ebert, who used to insist that "if a movie is in black and white, there's a better than 50 percent chance it will be worth seeing." He would be especially pleased to see that the Plaza Classic is screening many B&W greats this year, including The Manchurian Candidate, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and Yojimbo.
Laura Emerick will introduce several movies at this year’s Plaza Classic Film Festival.
By the River director Kevin Ford recently completed Drowned, an indie-feature that he wrote and directed starring Ellar Coltrane (Boyhood) and executive produced by Adrien Brody (The Pianist, The Grand Budapest Hotel). Kevin also teamed up with Fast Food Nation author Eric Schlosser and filmmaker Smriti Keshari on a live multimedia experience, the bomb, which premiered as the closing event of the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival, raising awareness on the danger of nuclear weapons. Kevin has been commissioned by Robert Downey Jr. on several projects. In 2015, Kevin directed, shot, and edited By The River, a feature-length non-fiction film coming soon to film festivals. Ford’s feature-length, immersive 3D art film, Windows, was selected by the 2015 LA3D Fest and also had a theatrical run in Los Angeles. Ford’s feature-length documentary Stone Barn Castle premiered at SXSW 2015. His indie feature Legs premiered at the Cine Santander Film Series in Brazil. His indie feature When Is Tomorrow had a theatrical run at the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin. Kevin’s first major break came in 1997 when he co-directed with Carter B. Smith the documentary Three Days, starring Jane’s Addiction and Cinque Lee. Kevin was also a director of photography on the political documentary The Party’s Over starring Philip Seymour Hoffman. Filmmaker Richard Linklater commissioned Kevin to shoot for his ESPN documentary Inning By Inning, and the pilot episode of the Hulu series, Up To Speed.
Kevin Ford will appear with By the River at 7 p.m. Saturday, August 6 in the Philanthropy Theatre.
Cellist and composer Gideon Freudmann has been on the forefront of the instrument's modern creative expansion for more than 30 years. In the early 1980s, Gideon's formal education at the University of Connecticut laid a solid classical foundation for what has become a diverse soundscape encompassing a wide range of musical genres. Gideon first came to the public's attention as one half of a cello, guitar and vocal duo playing original and traditional folk tunes in New England. He later released a string of solo CDs and became a mentor and tutor, helping to train other cellists and introducing children to the instrument as a touring member of the Young Audiences network. In the early '90s, Gideon continued developing his repertoire through solo and collaborative work, providing live accompaniment to dance and theater companies, and silent films. Using the cello for improvisational classical, blues, jazz and folk music, Gideon imaginatively riffs on conventions and traditions. He loops and layers his sounds, sculpting orchestras out of thin air. Gideon has created soundtracks for some Buster Keaton comedies and several German Expressionist classics, including Metropolis and The Cabinet of Dr Caligari. His music has appeared in a dozen episodes of TV's Weeds and Sundance Documentary Film winner Buck. His composition, Denmark, inspired a film by the same name, which won awards at several film festivals around the world. Based now in Portland, Oregon, he is a founding member of the Portland Cello Project and the band Caravan Gogh, and recently released his 19th CD.
Gideon Freudmann will accompany the 1920 silent film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari at 4 p.m. Saturday, August 13 in the Plaza Theatre's Kendle Kidd Performance Hall.
A Tejano from San Angelo, Texas, the prolific filmmaker and Texas Tech University graduate has contributed over 40 hours of programming to PBS, including episodes of the provocative series, Frontline, The American Experience and the landmark four-part Chicano! History of the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement. Hector’s work has garnered numerous awards and honors, including two Imagen awards, the Cine Golden Eagle Award, SXSW Best Documentary and the Blue Ribbon Award. In award-winning documentaries, including Children of Giant, Los Mineros, The Hunt for Pancho Villa and Songs of the Homeland, Galan has explored various of topics pertaining to the Latino experience, such as migrant farm workers, race relations in the military, college athletics, life in the colonias, Tejano music and the Texas band Los Lonely Boys. Galan has received the Cultural Arts Award from the Hispanic Caucus of the American Association of Higher Education, the Armando Marroquin Lifetime Achievement Award by the Tejano Roots Museum, and the AT&T Spirit of Communication Award. He was named one of the 100 most influential Hispanics in America by Hispanic Magazine, and had a career retrospective at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C. Galán is a founding board member of the Independent Television Service (ITVS), and an advisory board member of the Burnt Orange Productions/UT Film Institute in Austin, Texas.
Hector Galan will discuss Giant with executive producer Carolyn Pfeiffer in a free lecture at 1 p.m. Sunday, August 7 at the El Paso Museum of History, and introduce his documentary Children of Giant at 2 p.m. Monday, August 8 at the El Paso Public Library.
Ilana Lapid is a filmmaker and educator with a strong interest in the transformative power of visual storytelling and comparative border cinema. She was born in New York City and grew up in Jerusalem, Ottawa and Las Cruces, New Mexico. She holds a BA from Yale and MFA from the University of Southern California in Film Production. Lapid received a Fulbright in Romania to work with visual stories of Roma (Gypsy) children, and was an Artist in Residence at Slifka Center at Yale. She has directed multiple shorts that won awards at international festivals, including Red Mesa, which won Best Short at the LA Latino International Film Festival and was shown at the Plaza Classic Film Festival. A feature she co-wrote with Joshua Wheeler, Lordsburg, was a finalist at the Sundance Screenwriter Lab. Her 2015 short La Catrina was selected for the 2016 Women in Film and Television International Showcase, and is included in this year’s Local Flavor series at PCFF. Lapid is an assistant professor at New Mexico State University’s Creative Media Institute. Her newest film, Yochi, emerges from Lapid's continued interest in telling stories that explore human relationships and put a personal face to global conflicts.
Ilana Lapid will appear at a fundraiser for Yochi, shot in Belize, at 4 p.m. Saturday, August 13 in the Foundation Room.
Scott McGee is in his third year of sharing his extensive movie knowledge with Plaza Classic Film Festival fans. Scott is the director of program production at Turner Classic Movies and for the upcoming streaming service, FilmStruck, releasing this fall. As part of the team behind the TCM Classic Film Festival and the TCM Classic Cruise, he has programmed and introduced films and interviewed special guests at both events. He serves as host of the TCM Podcast, and has spoken at the George Eastman House, the Plaza Classic Film Festival, the Atlanta Film Festival, the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival, as well as various universities and civic clubs. He is currently researching a forthcoming book on stunt work in movies.
Scott McGee will interview Elsa Cardenas at 6 p.m. Saturday, August 6 before the 60th anniversary screening of Giant in the Plaza Theatre's Kendle Kidd Performance Hall. He also will introduce several movies at this year's Plaza Classic Film Festival.
Writer, director and animator Zach Passero is an El Paso native who, from a young age, knew he wanted to make visual stories — an inkling fueled mainly by cartoons and Jim Henson. Zach attended the USC Cinema School, focusing on production and animation. He has been working as a director, editor and animator for films, television and commercials. He frequently collaborates as editor for Lucky McKee’s films (Red, The Woman, Tales of Halloween and and PCFF 2014 inclusion All Cheerleaders Die). He also edited horror sleeper Jug Face and NBC/Universal’s Brian Keene’s Ghoul. His animation sequences have been featured on Showtime’s Masters of Horror. In 2008, Passero’s directed the feature film, Wicked Lake. It and his Motel, Glimpse have been shown at the Plaza Classic Film Festival. His animated shorts, created with his wife Hannah, have been touring the world in film festivals.
Zach Passero will appear with Kevin Ford and his movie, By the River, at 7 p.m. Saturday, August 6 in the Philanthropy Theatre.
Carolyn Pfeiffer has produced more than 20 feature films, including Roadie, Choose Me, Kiss of the Spider Woman, El Norte, Koyaanisqatsi, Stop Making Sense and The Whales of August. Her work has been shown in many of the world’s top festivals, including Cannes, Sundance, SXSW and Berlin. She was founding president of Island Alive, Alive Films and Burnt Orange Productions, a founding president of The Los Angeles Film School, and co-chair of American Film Institute Conservatory. Most recently Carolyn executive produced the acclaimed documentary Children of Giant, which aired on PBS in the spring of 2015. Carolyn started her career in Rome as Claudia Cardinale's assistant on films including Fellini's 8½, Visconti's The Leopard and Blake Edwards's The Pink Panther. In Paris, she was an associate producer for Alain Delon's production company, and later became executive assistant to Omar Sharif, working on many of his films, including Doctor Zhivago. Pfeiffer started her own public relations company in London. Clients included Robert Redford, Barbara Streisand, Liza Minnelli, Francois Truffaut, Robert Altman, The Beatles' Apple Corps, Ltd. and Paul McCartney and Wings. In Los Angeles, she formed Alive Films with Shep Gordon, then joined Chris Blackwell to form Island Alive, a groundbreaking independent production/distribution. As co-chair of Alive Films, Pfeiffer produced a series of films, including Alan Rudolph’s Trouble in Mind and The Moderns. She was founding president and CEO of Burnt Orange Productions for the UT Austin. Pfeiffer now resides in Marfa, Texas, where she is a producer and consultant for Bumbershoot Productions. She executive produced Far Marfa and is executive producing a documentary on famed Light and Space artist Robert Irwin. She will also produce John Sayles’ Django Lives!, starring Franco Nero. Pfeiffer is an active member of the Academy of the Motion Pictures and Sciences. She was awarded the Pioneer Award by the Lone Star International Film Festival in Fort Worth.
Carolyn Pfeiffer will join Hector Galan in a discussion of Giant at 1 p.m. Sunday, August 7 at the El Paso Museum of History and they will introduce Galan's Children of Giant, which she executive produced, at 2 p.m. Monday, August 8 at the El Paso Public Library.
Known as one of America’s premiere concert and theater organists, Walter Strony has performed at four fourth Plaza Classic Film Festivals, having accompanied "The Mark of Zorro" in 2015, "Safety Last" in 2014, "The Thief of Baghdad" in 2013, and "The General" in 2010.
Walter, a protege of organist Al Melgard, made his public performing debut at age 18 with films and symphony orchestras all over the world, and is frequently featured at conventions of the American Guild of Organists and the American Theatre Organ Society, which twice voted him its Organist of the Year and inducted him into its hall of fame in 2011.
Bart Weiss is an award-winning independent film and video producer, director, editor and educator from Dallas. He is mostly known as the director and founder of the Dallas VideoFest. He produces the TV show *Frame of Mind *on KERA TV in Dallas, and is the artistic director of 3 Stars Cinema. He has traveled to Nigeria, Pakistan and China to show American documentaries for the U.S. State Department. He has taught film and video at Texas A&M's Visualization Lab, Southern Methodist University, UT Austin, and West Virginia State College, and is currently an associate professor at UT Arlington. He is a former president of the Association of Independent Video and Filmmakers (AIVF), former (and founding) board member Dallas Artists Research and Exhibition (DARE), past vice president of the Texas Association of Film and Tape Professionals (TAFTP), founder and past president of the West Virginia Filmmakers' Guild, and co-founder of the Dallas Video Festival and the Video Association of Dallas. He has been a video columnist for The Dallas Morning News, Dallas Times Herald, and United Features Syndicate. Bart received an MFA in Film Directing from Columbia University in 1978 and a B.A. in Radio TV and Film from Temple University in 1975.
Bart Weiss will give a free demonstration of Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve 12.5 editing software in a free Filmmaker’s Brunch at 10 a.m. Sunday, August 14 in the Foundation Room. Seating is limited.