El Paso, TX

July 18 - July 28, 2024 • El Paso, TX


PCFF 2023 to premiere 'People of the Crossing' documentary

July 9

People of the Crossing: The Jews of El Paso will have its world premiere at this year’s El Paso Community Foundation Plaza Classic Film Festival.

The one-hour documentary by California filmmaker Isaac Artenstein will be shown at 1 pm Sunday, July 23 in the Plaza Theatre. El Paso Matters founder Robert Moore will interview Artenstein on stage after the film. Tickets are $6, on sale at the Plaza Theatre Box Office (no service charge) and Ticketmaster.com (service charges apply).

A free public reception will follow from 2:30 to 4 pm that day in the Foundation Room, 333 N. Oregon.

People of the Crossing is a multi-layered portrait of El Paso’s Jewish community as told through family stories that explore the culture, customs, and history of this important gateway between continents, people, and languages. We learn from descendants of 19th century Jewish pioneers, current community leaders, artists, and historians about the uniqueness of Jewish El Paso, with its multicultural congregations made up of European, American, Mexican, and Middle Eastern Jews. Their testimonials are richly illustrated with historic photographs, film footage, and compelling cinematography from land and air highlighting El Paso’s geographic location at the foot of the Franklin Mountains and the shores of the Rio Grande.

Among those appearing in the documentary are Cliff Eisenberg, Mimi Reisel Gladstein, Chabad Lubavitch Rabbi Levi Greenberg, Hal Marcus, Susan Novick, Deborah (Feinberg) Rosen, Gerald Rubin, B’Nai Zion President Felicia Rubin, Stuart Schwartz, Lee Schwartz, Peter Svarzbein, and Temple Mount Sinai Rabbi Ben Zeidman.

People of the Crossing is the fifth in director Artenstein’s Jews of the Borderland series. Artenstein, who founded Cinewest Productions with wife Judith Artenstein, is the director and producer of several narrative films and documentaries, including Breaking Dawn, Love Always, A Day Without a Mexican, Ballad of an Unsung Hero and Challah Rising: The Jews of New Mexico, part of the Jews of the Borderland series.

The premiere is sponsored by the Jewish Federation of El Paso & Las Cruces and El Paso Matters, with support from the Feinberg Family Foundation and Felicia Rubin.

The Plaza Classic Film Festival returns for its 16th year July 20-30 in and around El Paso’s historic Plaza Theatre. More than 100 movies and events are planned, including an opening night screening of Casablanca at 7 pm July 20, and guest appearances by actors Edward James Olmos with Stand and Deliver (7 pm July 28) and The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez (1 pm July 29), and Helen Hunt, with As Good As It Gets (7 pm July 29) and Twister (1 pm July 30). Also screening are The Silence of the Lambs, Peter Pan, Psycho, When Harry Met Sally, Kramer vs. Kramer, Mrs. Doubtfire, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Batman, children’s movies and much more. The complete schedule is posted here.

Tickets are on sale at the Plaza Theatre Box Office and Ticketmaster.com. Festival passes are on sale here. Call 915-533-4020 for more information.