The pandemic continues to take its toll on our beloved traditions, including the annual Holiday Movies at the Plaza Theatre, produced by the El Paso Community Foundation Plaza Classic Film Festival and El Paso Live as part of the City of El Paso’s WinterFest.
The popular series features holiday classics, such as It’s a Wonderful Life and Elf, for free in the Plaza Theatre as part of the City of El Paso’s annual WinterFest.
The Holiday Movies at the Plaza Theatre are expected to return in 2021.
The series began in 2008, the year the first Plaza Classic Film Festival was held. From 2008-2012, Holiday Movies at the Plaza Theatre was held over one weekend each December in conjunction with the tree lighting ceremony in San Jacinto Plaza and Christmas lights parade. The movies went on hiatus from 2013 to 2015 during the renovation of San Jacinto Plaza, and returned in 2016 as part of the first WinterFest.
This year’s WinterFest from December 5-January 3 will feature virtual events only. Go to epwinterfest.com for details.
The El Paso Sports Commission will offer Christmas Cheer Drive-in Mistletoe Movies from December 4-19 in the El Paso County Coliseum parking lot. Titles include The Polar Express, Elf and Home Alone. Go to Facebook.com/ElPasoColiseum for details.
En Tus Brazos Esta Noche (In Your Arms Tonight) was the clear favorite with online voters in this year’s Local Flavor Awards, sponsored by El Paso Electric.
It’s a romantic drama with a dramatic twist from the fertile mind of writer-director Jonathan Gonzales.
Jonathan and his short film (pictured) were voted the Audience Favorite Award by patrons who watched the Local Flavor I and Local Flavor II programs streamed on plazaclassic.com last weekend. Jonathan will receive $250 for his efforts.
If the name sounds familiar, it is because Jonathan won the Audience Favorite Award in 2018 for his Act of Contrition.
In fact, Jonathan is one of two recent repeat award recipients. Las Cruces filmmaker Brandon Gass was chosen this year’s $1,000 First Prize recipient for Stillborn. Brandon took second prize last year with Worlds Away.
Former El Pasoan Ryan Riddle took the $500 Second Prize Award with his short The Music Box.
There was a delay in announcing the Audience Favorite honoree this year, our first live stream of the local filmmaker showcase. A ballot that was supposed to go live after the Local Flavor I program on August 7 did not appear. The ballot did appear after Local Flavor II on August 8. In the interest of fairness, ballots were emailed to those who purchased tickets to view Local Flavor I, but the email did not make it to them. A second email went out and the deadline to vote was extended to 10 a.m. today.
Congratulations to Jonathan and all of our honorees.
Two graduates of New Mexico State University’s Creative Media Institute nabbed the top two prizes in this year’s Local Flavor Awards, sponsored by El Paso Electric and the Texas Film Commission.
Brandon Gass’ ruminative Stillborn, about a family dealing with the death of its matriarch, was selected First Prize Winner and will receive a $1,000 award for his short film, which clocks in slightly under 10 minutes.
The Music Box, Ryan Riddle’s subtle horror story about a father and daughter haunted by the death of a loved one, was chosen Second Prize Winner. He will receive $500 for his short film, which is in Japanese with English subtitles and is just under 25 minutes long.
Due to a technical issue, the selection of the $250 Audience Favorite Award has been postponed until Wednesday, August 12. Check this news blog tomorrow for an announcement.
Local Flavor was curated by filmmakers Zach Passero and Lucky McKee and Plaza Classic Film Festival director Doug Pullen. More than 40 entries were submitted, with 13 selected for inclusion in two Local Flavor programs, which streamed online for the first time in the Plaza Classic’s 13-year history. Both programs were followed by live Q&As with some of the participating filmmakers, which were hosted by Passero and McKee.
If you’re going to see Godzilla, King of the Monsters! tonight or the double bill of Young Frankenstein and Frankenstein on Friday, both at The Hospitals of Providence East Campus, here are a few things you need to know:
• The lot is on the southwest corner of the campus, parallel with Loop 375 and Joe Battle Boulevard.
• The entrance will be via TIERRA CORTEZ AVENUE, which can be accessed from northbound Joe Battle Boulevard and Pebble Hills Boulevard from the east, and other tributaries (see map). Please don’t use the main entrance off of Joe Battle as it needs to be kept clear for emergency vehicles.
• It’s a gravel lot. Lines will be painted so vehicles can be parked in a checkerboard pattern to better serve our social distancing measures.
• The 32x18-foot screen, which is mounted on a portable stage, will be on the north side of the lot, facing south.
• There will be eight portable restrooms on the west side of the lot, parallel to Loop 375/Joe Battle.
• Tickets are $25 per vehicle, available at plazaclassic.com/schedule or the door (if it’s not sold out).
• Admission begins at 7:30 pm, a few minutes earlier if we’re ready and we have a line.
• Programming starts at 8:30 pm
• Bring your own food. There will be no food concessions on site.
• Please follow social distancing guidelines — no chairs outside of your vehicle (you can sit in the back of your truck, SUV, van, etc., but please wear a mask). Wear a mask if you have to walk to the portable restrooms. Wash your hands. Stay six feet apart from anyone outside of your carload.
• Godzilla, King of the Monsters! is the 1956, “Americanized” version of the 1954 Japanese original, and is credited with launching the franchise, which is still going today. It downplays some of the nuclear attack aspects of the original. We are showing it 75 years to the date after the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima.
The online edition of the El Paso Community Foundation’s 13th annual Plaza Classic Film Festival runs August 5-9 and includes digitally streamed movies such as 1984’s Amadeus (with an exclusive interview with El Paso’s F. Murray Abraham), El Paso pop star Khalid’s Free Spirit, and the annual Local Flavor filmmaker showcase.
Due the pandemic, the 2020 Plaza Classic Film Festival is a hybrid of 14 digitally streamed films and 11 nightly pop-up drive-in movie programs, which run through August 9. Click here or here for more information.
The Plaza Classic Film Festival Online opens with the iconic 1980 documentary The Life and Times of Rosie the Riveter at 1 p.m. August 5, and concludes with Amadeus, preceded by a Zoom Q&A with Abraham, who won the Academy Award for his performance, at 2 p.m. August 9. Free Spirit, co-conceived by Khalid as a companion piece to his 2019 platinum album of the same name, shows at 7:30 p.m. August 5.
This year’s virtual festival features seven documentaries, including Paul Espinosa’s Singing Our Way to Freedom, an engaging look at Chicano musician and activist Ramon “Chunky” Sanchez, Peter Miller’s Projections of America, about the idealistic American propaganda films overseen by screenwriter Robert Riskin, and Witness at Tornillo, Shane Franklin’s chronicle of one man’s effort to shut down the camp for migrant children in Tornillo, Texas.
The annual Local Flavor showcase highlights new local and locally connected works in two hour-long shorts programs, Local Flavor I and Local Flavor II, curated by filmmakers Zach Passero and Lucky McKee. The third Local Flavor Awards, sponsored by El Paso Electric, will feature the announcement and encore screenings of the $1,000 first prize and $500 second prize selections. Also, Joshua Lozano’s Rest Stop, an adaptation of the Stephen King short story, will be shown out of competition.
Here’s the schedule:
The Life and Times of Rosie the Riveter, 1 pm
Banging Lanie (followed by a Q&A with director Allison Powell), 3:30 pm
Free Spirit, 7:30 pm
Projections of America (with Q&A with director Peter Miller), 1 pm
The Hanged Woman Vol. II: The Den of Iniquity (with Q&A with filmmaker Marco Marcus), 3:30 pm
Singing Our Way to Freedom, 7 pm
Witness at Tornillo, 1 pm
The One and Only Jewish Miss America (with Q&A with director David Arond), 3:30 pm
Local Flavor I (with filmmaker Q&A with curators Zach Passero and Lucky McKee), 7 pm
Finding Freddy, Robert Holguin’s look at late El Paso comic Freddy Soto, 1 pm
Rest Stop (with Q&A with filmmaker Joshua Lozano), 3:30 pm
Local Flavor II (with filmmaker Q&A), 7 pm
The Local Flavor Awards, encore screens and reveal of first and second prize winners, 1 pm
Amadeus (preceded by a Q&A with El Paso native F. Murray Abraham), 2 pm.
Admission is $5 per film, or $30 for the entire series, on sale now at plazaclassic.com.
Streamed screenings are available only at the announced date and time of each showing.
Sponsors for this year’s Plaza Classic Film Festival On Tour and Online are El Paso Electric, the Paul L. Foster Family Foundation/Mills Plaza Properties, GECU, Debbi Hester/Realtor and Perry Hester/Realtor, the Woody and Gayle Hunt Family Foundation, In*Situ Architecture, the Texas Film Commission, TFCU, Tammy Vasilatos CPA, and the Museums and Cultural Affairs Department.