El Paso, TX

July 20 - July 30, 2023 • El Paso, TX


Local Flavor, Screenwriting awards announced

August 5

Las Cruces filmmaker Brandon Tyler’s evocative short film Arkansas, etc., took First Prize in the Plaza Classic Film Festival’s 2022 Local Flavor Awards, sponsored by Raiz Federal Credit Union and the Texas Film Commission. Tyler receives $1,000 for his efforts.

The $750 Second Prize went to Ryan Rox, also of Las Cruces, for the autobiographical That Tingling Sensation, a story rooted in the loss of a father.

Third Prize went to El Pasoan Christopher Rakas’ experimental short film Dada Noise 2. The prize is worth $500.

This year’s Audience Favorite was Melody, an animated short by Lauren Roman of Las Cruces (pictured). The vote was conducted via text, with 140 audience members participating. She receives $250.

Katie Kelly of the Texas Film Commission was on hand for the awards ceremony, which followed this year’s Local Flavor showcase, the first time it was held in the Plaza Theatre. An after-party was held at the patio at the Hotel Paso del Norte.

In related news, the winner of the first Plaza Classic Film Festival Screenwriting Competition is The Secrets of Professor Thomas, which is based on a true story about a cellist’s dream to impart his love of classical music to children. It was written by Joni Ravenna of Palm Springs, CA, and Joshua Townshend-Zellner of Los Angeles, CA.

They will receive $500, a Final Draft 12 software package and a consultation with Impossible Dream Entertainment.

A free table read of the screenplay will be this year’s Filmmakers Brunch event at 11 am Sunday, August 7 in the Foundation Room, 333 N. Oregon.

Congratulations to all who participated this year!

Not so cheesy: A Cheesy Affair sold out

July 30

This is not so cheesy: Monday’s A Cheesy Affair dinner is SOLD OUT!

There’s no room left at the inn, er, Foundation Room.

If you purchased tickets online and don’t have them in hand, just come to the Foundation Room. We’ll check you off the list and hand you your souvenir dinner ticket and your ticket to Sleepless in Seattle.

Dinner is from 5-6:30 pm in the Foundation Room, 333 N. Oregon, with a menu from chef Omar Carranza inspired by the movie.

The movie Sleepless in Seattle is at 7 pm Monday in the Plaza Theatre.

If you’re not going to the dinner, you can still get tickets to the movie. They’re $8 at the box office.

Diversity marks this year's Local Flavor; 'El Pavo Bravo' debuts out of competition

July 25

The first Local Flavor showcase will feature eight short films that range from drama and comedy to experimental and animation. This year’s selections will be screened at 7 pm Thursday, August 4 in the Plaza Theater, a first for the 15-year-old showcase sponsored by the Texas Film Commission. Admission is $5 at the box office and Ticketmaster (there are no service charges if you buy your tickets at the box office).

The program will run about 90 minutes long, followed by a Q&A with the filmmakers, and the fifth annual Local Flavor Awards, sponsored by the Texas Film Commission and Raiz Federal Credit Union, will be presented. The awards include a $1,000 first prize, $750 second prize, and $500 third prize. The $250 audience favorite award will be determined that night via text-to-vote. The Local Flavor After-Party will be from 9-11 pm on the Sabor Patio at the Hotel Paso del Norte.

A total of 39 entries were submitted this year. The Local Flavor series was curated by El Paso filmmakers Zach Passero (First Date, Weird Kidz, The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot, Wicked Lake, Motel, Glimpse) and Lucky McKee (Old Man, Kindred Spirits, The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot, May, The Woman), and festival director Doug Pullen of the El Paso Community Foundation.

This year’s selections are: Aqui es El Paso (Dubeth Ramferi Cortez), drama, 20 minutes; Arkansas, etc. (Brandon Tyler), drama, 14:45 minutes; Dada Noise 2 (Christopher Rakas), experimental, 3:12 minutes: Melody (Lauren Roman), animation, 5:11 minutes; Ome Tlaloc (Jacqueline Barragan), documentary, 8:39 minutes; That Tingling Sensation (Ryan Rox), drama, 29:59 minutes; Visiones Diurnas (J. Genaro Limon and Arantza C. Shaeffer), experimental, 4:38 minutes; Where Is the Governor? (Carlos Humberto Tejeda), comedy, 9:30 minutes.

In addition, the short film El Pavo Bravo will make its festival premiere with an out-of-competition showing at 10 p.m. Saturday, August 6 (replacing the previously announced Desperately Seeking Susan). Admission is FREE. Directed by Austin Savage and Roland Esparza, it is a 19-minute short about a luchador who, after the death of a friend, quits the ring and takes up music in pursuit of a long lost love. It was one of five scripts to win the Hornitos Tequila Black List “Take Your Shot” short film program. A short Q&A will follow the screening.

Filmmakers Cristina Ibarra and Alex Rivera to appear at PCFF

July 22

Recent MacArthur Fellows Cristina Ibarra and Alex Rivera will be special guests of this year’s Plaza Classic Film Festival, presented by the El Paso Community Foundation.

Ibarra is an award-winning documentary filmmaker, El Paso native, and Hanks High School graduate whose work focuses on border issues and culture. She has received fellowships from Soros, Rockefeller, Firelight Media, and the Sundance Women’s Initiative. Rivera is an award-winning narrative filmmaker whose work explores globalization, migration, and technology. The couple, based in Pasadena, CA., received MacArthur “genius” grants in 2021, the first married couple to do so in the MacArthur Fellowship’s 40-year history.

They will be the focus of a three-part series called Genius: Ibarra/Rivera. The series begins with Rivera’s Sleep Dealer (2008) at 3 pm Saturday, July 30 in the Philanthropy Theatre. It is a futuristic tale that deals with environmental and immigration issues. It won awards at the Sundance and Berlin film festivals. Rivera will appear for a post-screening Q&A with PCFF Program Advisory Committee member Jaime Mendez. Admission is $4.

The series continues with two of Ibarra’s short films at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, July 30 in the Philanthropy Theatre. It opens with the 15-minute comedy Dirty Laundry: A Homemade Telenovela (2000), followed by Las Marthas, a 2014 documentary about a Martha Washington-inspired debutante pageant in Laredo, TX. It aired on PBS’ Independent Lens in 2014. Ibarra will appear for a Q&A after the show with PCFF Program Advisory Committee member Stephanie Valle. Tickets are $4.

The series concludes with The Infiltrators at 4 p.m. Sunday, July 31 in the Plaza Theatre. The Infiltrators won multiple awards at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival and aired on PBS’ POV in 2020. The documentary-thriller hybrid was directed by the couple and is based on a true story about a group of “Dreamers” who infiltrate a for-profit migrant detention center in Florida. Ibarra, Rivera and one of the film’s subjects, Claudio Rojas, will appear for a Q&A with El Paso Matters founder Robert Moore after the screening. Tickets are $6.

A reception for the couple will be at 6:30 pm Sunday, July 31 in the Foundation Room, 333 N. Oregon.

Tickets for all Plaza Classic Film Festival screenings are available at the Plaza Theatre Box Office (no service charges) and Ticketmaster.com. Festival passes are available at plazaclassic.com/tickets or by calling 915-533-4020.

Get your PCFF tickets and schedules!

July 18

The El Paso Community Foundation’s 15th annual Plaza Classic Film Festival is almost here!

The feel-good, end-of-summer cinematic celebration runs July 28 through August 7 in and around the Plaza Theatre in downtown.

Special guests include Rita Moreno appearing with Singin’ in the Rain and the new West Side Story, El Paso’s own Oscar-winner F. Murray Abraham with Amadeus and The Grand Budapest Hotel, El Paso-raised Academy Award nominee Germaine Franco with Encanto, husband-and-wife filmmakers Cristina Ibarra (a Hanks High School grad) and Alex Rivera with four of their films, including The Infiltrators, and UT Austin film faculty member and Franklin High School alum Iliana Sosa with her two-time SXSW-winning documentary What We Leave Behind.

There’s more, of course, including our first Local Flavor showcase in the Plaza Theatre, our first screenwriting competition, familiar faces including Turner Classic Movies’ Scott McGee, former Roger Ebert editor Laura Emerick and Dallas Video Association founder Bart Weiss, plus intros and film lectures by members of the Plaza Classic Film Festival Program Advisory Committee.

And lots and lots of new and old classic movies, including Bonnie and Clyde, Scarface, Bambi, Superman, The Thin Man, The Wild One, Rebel Without a Cause, Lawrence of Arabia, V for Vendetta (pictured), Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and many, many more.

We’re doing our best to fight inflation, holding the line on ticket prices for the 10th straight year — $6 for matinees, $8 for evenings and $10 for most of the movies with special guests in the Plaza Theatre; $4 for all Philanthropy Theatre movies; $5 for Local Flavor and the Mills Plaza Drive-in/Walk-up movies; and FREE admission to the outdoor flicks on Oregon Street, our early women filmmakers programs at the El Paso Museum of Art, and our Film Lectures in the Philanthropy Theatre.

Want to see a schedule? Click here for a printable PDF of the schedule.

Want to buy tickets? You can get them at the Plaza Theatre box office, Ticketmaster.com or by clicking on any of the movies on our Schedule page (all ticketed films have a link).