El Paso, TX

July 20 - July 30, 2023 • El Paso, TX


PCFF hosts fundraiser for Ilana Lapid's 'Yochi'

August 11

New Mexico State University assistant professor and USC film school grad Ilana Lapid returns to the El Paso Community Foundation Plaza Classic Film Festival with her latest project, Yochi, shot in Belize using non-actors.

The Plaza Classic Film Festival is helping Ilana raise money for post-production costs with a special showing of the 26-minute drama at 4 p.m. Saturday, August 13 in the Foundation Room, 333 N. Oregon. An audience Q&A will follow.

Admission is $10 at the door. Donations will be accepted during the event.

Yochi is an olive-eyed, 9-year-old, selectively mute Mayan boy who guards a nest of endangered yellow-headed parrots in the pine savannah of western Belize. When he discovers his older brother is poaching to pay debts, his loyalties are put to the test. Yochi emerges from Ilana’s continued interest in telling stories that explore human relationships and put a personal face to global conflicts.

Ilana Lapid, a faculty member of NMSU’s Creative Media Institute, is a filmmaker and educator with a strong interest in the transformative power of visual storytelling and comparative border cinema. Born in New York City, she grew up in Jerusalem, Ottawa and Las Cruces, N.M. She holds a BA from Yale, an MFA from the University of Southern California in Film Production, received a Fulbright to work with visual stories of Roma (Gypsy) children, and was 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 2009 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 PCFF 2016’s Local Flavor series.

Guests announced for 'By the River'

August 2

Actor Ellar Coltrane will join director Kevin Ford and El Paso’s Zach Passero for a special screening of their feature-length documentary By the River at the El Paso Community Foundation Plaza Classic Festival.

Coltrane, Ford and Passero will participate in a 30-minute Q&A after the screening at 7 p.m. Saturday, August 6 in the Philanthropy Theatre.

By the River is billed as an experimental documentary. It’s also part road picture as Coltrane, best known for his performance in Richard Linklater’s Boyhood, travels by train from his hometown of Austin to El Paso, Albuquerque, Boulder, Reno and northern California. He reads from poems and books, records ambient sounds and talks to people he meets about life, where they live, creativity and other Big Picture topics.

Locally shot scenes include a conversation between Coltrane, Passero and El Paso writer and musician Justin Stone in Pioneer Plaza, across from the Plaza Theatre entrance.

Additionally, Passero will screen a portion of an animated project on which he’s working.

Tickets to the By the River screening and Q&A are $4, on sale at the Plaza Theatre box office, Ticketmaster outlets, ticketmaster.com and 800-745-3000.

Local Flavor selections announced

July 15

One feature-length film and 37 shorts — about everything from a Star Wars-like Plasma Sword to the Pope’s visit to Juarez to a little girl who comes up with a devious plan to buy a violin — have been selected for this year’s Local Flavor showcase.

Sponsored by the Texas Film Commission, the series is part of the El Paso Community Foundation Plaza Classic Film Festival, which returns for its ninth year August 4-14.

More than 60 projects were submitted by filmmakers from the Borderland region and filmmakers with local ties. A total of 38 were selected for the area’s premier local film showcase.

They have been curated into four programs, including the much-anticipated 12th annual edition of The Good, The Bad, The Indie, which will open Local Flavor at 8 p.m. Saturday, August 5 in the Foundation Room, 333 N. Oregon. All Local Flavor programs are free and will be in the Foundation Room.

Additionally, the series will include a benefit showing of a rough cut of Las Cruces filmmaker Ilana Lapid’s new Yochi, shot in Belize, at 4 p.m. Saturday, August 13 ($10 at the door) and the student projects from the second annual Plaza Classic Film Camp, for children aged 9 to 15, on the last day of the festival.

Here is a rundown of what’s in this year, with title followed by the filmmaker’s name:

The Good, The Bad, The Indie, vol. 12 8 p.m. Saturday, August 5 • Everywhere I Go Chris Hanna • Memories Andrew Barahona • The Violin Claudia Castaneda • Second Chance: El Tiradero Arturo Contreras • The Force Within Angel Rodriguez • Tacos Eric J. Vazquez • Pope Francis: Visit to the Borderland Rebekah Renee Grado • Seed Michael Torres • In Limbo Gustavo Garza • Sun City Divas Rayell Abad • Don’t Forget Tito Arenal • Midnight Vagary Diego Davila • Nacho L. Garcia Larry D. Powers • Like a Bomb Angel Rodriguez • Winter Morning Cruz Barajas Lujan • El Camino Victor Carrillo • A Singularity Kirk Ryde • Simple Happiness Alberto J. Pedroza • A Dark Matter Leonardo Sotelo

Local Flavor 2 p.m. Sunday, August 6 • Song of the Starslayer Robert Towne 188 minutes

Local Flavor: Shorts 1 8 p.m. Friday, August 12 • Got all my guns huh? Noah Spivey • Promise Me Kevin Machate • Plasma Sword Roberto Urrea • A Little Enchanting Stella Gutierrez • Paleta Power Ruben Chang • Little Match Girl Carlos Arreola

Yochi Fundraiser 4 p.m. Saturday, August 13 $10 at the door • Yochi (rough cut) Ilana Lapid

Local Flavor: Shorts 2 8 p.m. Saturday, August 13 • La Loteria Isaac Marquez • Again and Over/Nuevamente Pedro Omar Dominguez • Good Cop, Good Cop Keagan Karnes • Lotus Edmund Lozano and Jasmin Harvey • Cycle Jesus Nunez and Jaime Blanco • Portrait of an Addict Andrew Shebay • The Talk in the Night Chris Hanna • Gatekeeper Gerry Facio • La Catrina Ilana Lapid • Theotokos Mark Martinez • PEN Diego Rico • Wolff’s Law Sheridan O’Donnell

Local Flavor: Plaza Classic Film Camp 2 p.m. Sunday, August 14 • Projects by students, ages 9 to 15, from the second annual Plaza Classic Film Camp

Image at left: Ilana Lapid with Yochi cast members (courtesy of Ilana Lapid)

PCFF 2016 tickets go on sale today!

July 8

Finally! Tickets for the 2016 edition of the El Paso Community Foundation’s Plaza Classic Film Festival go on sale at 10 a.m. today at the Plaza Theatre box office, Ticketmaster outlets, ticketmaster.com and 800-745-3000.

The ninth annual Plaza Classic Film Festival will run from August 4-14 and will feature more than 90 movies, including the special editions of the original Star Wars trilogy, Rocky, Young Frankenstein, The Music Man, Giant, Apocalypse Now, Rosemary’s Baby, Gigi, and Annie Hall.

You can find a downloadable and printable version of the schedule at plazaclassic.com/schedule.

Special guests include Mexican actress Elsa Cardenas, who will appear with Giant (shot near Marfa) at 6 p.m. Saturday, August 6 in the Plaza Theatre; and Oscar-nominated Candy Clark, who will appear with The Man Who Fell to Earth (shot in New Mexico) at 9 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 13 in the Plaza. Austin filmmaker Kevin Ford will be here to show his new, experimental documentary By the River, which features Boyhood’s Ellar Coltrane and footage shot in El Paso, at 7 p.m. Saturday, August 6 in the Philanthropy Theatre.

Our exhibit, A ‘Giant’ Story: When Hollywood Came to West Texas, opens July 28 at the El Paso Museum of History. It will feature costumes worn by James Dean, Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean, from the Warner Bros. Corporate Archive; production art, documents and photographs from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences; and more. It’s free and will be up through September 18.

This year’s themes include an expansive survey of monster and horror archetypes called Monster Mash, which includes the silent films The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, accompanied by electric cellist Gideon Freudmann, at 4 p.m. Saturday, August 13, and the 1929 version of the 1925 classic The Phantom of the Opera, accompanied by PCFF veteran Walter Strony, at 4 p.m. Sunday, August 7. Other titles in the series include Frankenstein, Dracula, The Uninvited, the 1958 version of The Fly, Tom Savini’s 1990 version of Night of the Living Dead, and John Landis’ An American Werewolf in London.

It’s a political year, so we’ve programmed some movies about elections, including the original The Manchurian Candidate, Robert Redford in The Candidate, and Tim Robbins’ mockumentary Bob Roberts. We’re also highlighting various members of the prolific Coppola family in a series called Coppola Family Tree, including Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation, and spotlighting Hollywood icons Elizabeth Taylor (Giant, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?) and Gregory Peck, who would have turned 100 this year (Twelve O’Clock High, Gentlemen’s Agreement).

There will be plenty of musicals, including Funny Girl and the return of Musical Monday on August 8, which will include screenings of High Society, the 1936 version of Show Boat, John Waters’ Hairspray, and, for the kids, Disney’s The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and James and the Giant Peach. And the Philanthropy Theatre will be filled with kids movies on weekday afternoons, including The Goonies, The Geisha Boy and Beethoven. We’ve also increased the number of foreign classics in our Plaza Art House series, including Satyajit Ray’s Pather Panchali and Luis Bunuel’s Belle de Jour.

This year’s outdoor movies will return to Oregon Street. We’ll show Pink Floyd: The Wall on Friday, August 5 (Alabama Deathwalk will open), our not-to-be-missed annual showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show on Saturday, August 6 (Hope Riot opens), Car Wash on Friday, August 12 (Kikimora), and Mamma Mia! on Saturday, August 13 (The Other Half). They’re free. Bands start at 7:30 p.m., movies at 9 p.m. We’ll have food trucks and a bar.

This year’s Mills Drive-in/Walk-up movies are Fast Times at Ridgemont High at 9 p.m. Thursday, August 4 and Raising Arizona at 9 p.m. Thursday, August 11. Admission is $5 at the door, plus parking.

Our annual collaboration with the El Paso Museum of Art is inspired by the two Picasso exhibits currently on exhibit there through September 4. Our Picasso and Surrealism six-film series includes the documentary The Mystery of Picasso, Surviving Picasso, Jean Cocteau’s Orpheus and David Lynch’s Eraserhead. They are free and will be shown in the museum auditorium.

We’ve also expanded our footprint this year to the El Paso Public Library, which will host our second annual Plaza Classic Film Camp and a series of free movies in the auditorium that tie back to camp curriculum or other movies in the festival. That series includes the 1956 sci-fi flick Earth vs. The Flying Saucers, with special effects by legendary Ray Harryhausen, and Hector Galan’s 2015 documentary Children of Giant, introduced by executive producer Carolyn Pfeiffer.

Local Flavor, our Texas Film Commission-sponsored showcase, returns with new, free programs on the weekends.

The best way to see as many of these movies as possible is with a Festival Pass, which includes admission to all ticketed movies, an express line, private receptions and more for $200. A limited number of Film Club Passes, for high school students with an interest in film, are available for $100. Go to plazaclassic.com/tickets.

PCFF celebrates 'Giant' 60th with screening, exhibit

June 28

EL PASO, TEXAS — The world’s largest classic film festival will celebrate the 60th anniversary of the movie Giant in a Texas-sized way this August.

Director George Stevens’ sprawling 1956 Lone Star state epic, which was shot largely in nearby Marfa, Texas, will be shown at 6 p.m. Saturday, August 6 in the Plaza Theatre.

The movie — starring Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean — is part of the El Paso Community Foundation’s ninth annual Plaza Classic Film Festival running August 4-14, 2016 in and around downtown El Paso’s historic Plaza Theatre.

Mexican actress Elsa Cardenas, who played the pivotal role of Juana, will appear. She will be interviewed on stage by Scott McGee, program production director of Turner Classic Movies. The movie will be shown immediately after their talk.

GECU/MEMBERS Trust Company generously is sponsoring Giant and the unique exhibit, A ‘Giant’ Story: When Hollywood Came to West Texas, which explores the location shoot in Marfa, its El Paso ties and some of the movie’s main themes.

The free exhibit will run July 28 through September 18 at the El Paso Museum of History.

A ‘Giant’ Story will include costumes designed by Academy Award-winner Marjorie O. Best for Hudson, Taylor and Dean (who died while the movie was in post-production), on loan from the Warner Bros. Corporate Archive, and production art, documents and off-set photographs from the George Stevens Collection at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

It also will include one-of-a-kind photographs and memorabilia from El Pasoan Wally Cech, who worked as a waitress on the Marfa shoot, and Nancy Hamilton, who covered the movie’s El Paso premiere at the Plaza Theatre on November 8, 1956 for the El Paso Times.

Tours, lectures and screenings of related films will be part of the Giant celebration, including a free showing of Austin filmmaker Hector Galan’s 2015 documentary Children of Giant at 2 p.m. Monday, August 8 at the El Paso Public Library auditorium.

Based on the 1952 best-seller by Edna Ferber (Show Boat), Giant chronicles a quarter century in the life of rancher Bick Benedict (Hudson) and his Eastern-bred wife Leslie (Taylor), the advent of big oil and race relations between Anglos and Mexican-Americans.

Tickets for Giant and all 90 of the movies in this year’s Plaza Classic Film Festival — including the original Star Wars trilogy, Rocky, Annie Hall and The Music Man — go on sale July 8. Festival Passes teen Film Club Passes are available at plazaclassic.com/tickets or by calling 915-533-4020.