El Paso, TX

July 18 - July 28, 2024 • El Paso, TX

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Oscar winner F. Murray Abraham to appear at PCFF 2022


May 25

Academy Award-winning actor and El Paso native F. Murray Abraham will appear at this year’s 15th annual El Paso Community Foundation Plaza Classic Festival. Abraham is a 1958 graduate of El Paso High School who won the Oscar for Best Actor for his performance as the envious composer Antonio Salieri in director Milos Forman’s Amadeus.

Abraham will appear for a pre-screening interview with the director’s cut version of Amadeus at 7 p.m. Friday, August 5 in the Plaza Theatre. He will follow that with a pre-screening interview with director Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel at 4 p.m. Saturday, August 6 in the Plaza Theatre.

Born in Pittsburgh to Syrian immigrant Fahrid “Fred” Abraham and Josephine Stello, the daughter of Italian immigrants, Abraham grew up in El Paso. He attended Vilas Grammar School, El Paso High School, and Texas Western College (now the University of Texas at El Paso), where he won an acting award before transferring to the University of Texas at Austin. He also studied acting with Uta Hagen in New York City.

The 82-year-old actor’s storied career is all about the work, with roots firmly in theater, where he has performed more than 90 plays. He won an Obie Award for Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya, appeared in Broadway productions of The Man in the Glass Booth and Angels in America, and numerous Shakespearean plays. He received an Obie Award for Lifetime Achievement and was inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame.

Abraham’s most visible work has been in movies and TV. His film credits include Scarface (also showing at this year’s Plaza Classic), The Name of the Rose, Finding Forrester, Last Action Hero, Mighty Aphrodite, Star Trek: Insurrection, and Inside Llewyn Davis. His extensive TV credits include 43 episodes of Showtime’s Homeland (with two Emmy Award nominations), plus appearances on The Good Wife, Louie, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Mythic Quest, The White Lotus, and Disney+’s Moon Knight, for which he voices the evil Khonshu.

Murray Abraham celebrated his 60th wedding anniversary to Kate Hannan this year. He has a son, Mick, and daughter, Jamili, and a granddaughter, Hannan.

The 15th annual Plaza Classic Film Festival will be held July 28-August 7, 2022. Among this year’s 90 titles are a 70th anniversary showing of Singin’ in the Rain, Sleepless in Seattle, Superman, Lawrence of Arabia, Bonnie and Clyde, and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Festival passes are on sale for $200, with Movies Only passes available for $100 at plazaclassic.com/tickets. Individual tickets go on sale in July. Call 915-533-4020 or go to plazaclassic.com for more information.


Final Draft 12 added to screenwriting competition prize


May 18

The winner of the first Plaza Classic Screenwriting Competition will receive more than a $500 first prize and a table read of their winning entry. They also will receive Final Draft 12, the latest version of the movie industry’s premier screenwriting software.

The early bird deadline for the inaugural competition is fast approaching. Entrants have until 11:59 p.m. Friday, May 20 to submit their screenplays for $30.

The submission cost rises to $40 from May 21 through 11:59 p.m. June 13, with a late registration fee of $50 June 14 through 11:59 p.m. June 27. Coverage, or an analysis of the submitted screenplay, is available for an additional $15.

The competition, which is sponsored by the El Paso Film and Creative Industries Commission, is open to writers 18 years of age or older. Screenplays must be submitted in the PDF format only, and should include only the title on the cover sheet, not the writer’s name. The writer’s identity and contact information, as well as the logline for their screenplay, may be filled in on the submission form, which the judges do not see.

The winner will be announced on or around August 1 and will be awarded the $500 first prize at the conclusion of the Local Flavor film showcase and Local Flavor Awards, which start at 7 p.m. Thursday, August 4 in the Plaza Theatre. A free table read will be offered as part of this year’s annual Filmmakers Brunch on Sunday, August 7 in the El Paso Community Foundation Room.

Go to plazaclassic.com/screenwriting for details and the submission form.


PCFF announces first screenwriting competition


April 27

The El Paso Community Foundation’s Plaza Classic Film Festival will host its first screenwriting competition as part of the 15th annual Plaza Classic, which runs July 28-August 7 in and around the Plaza Theatre.

The first Plaza Classic Film Festival Screenwriting Competition, sponsored by the El Paso Film and Creative Industries Commission, will award a $500 first prize and a table read of the winning screenplay. It’s open to anyone 18 and older. Entries must be feature-length scripts of no more than 120 pages. There are no genre restrictions.

Screenplays may be submitted at plazaclassic.com/screenwriting. The cost to submit is $30 through May 20, $40 from May 21 through June 13, and $50 from June 14-27. For an additional $15, an entrant will receive coverage, or written feedback, of their screenplay.

Screenplays may be uploaded in the PDF format only and must include a cover sheet with only the screenplay’s title. The entrant’s name and contact information will be included on the submission form, along with a logline and payment. A point system will be used to grade the submissions, with a 50 point maximum. Scripts will be awarded up to 10 points each for premise, plot, characters, dialogue, and the script’s potential prospects.

The winning screenplay will be announced at the Plaza Classic Film Festival’s Local Flavor showcase (entry deadline for films is June 20), sponsored by the Texas Film Commission, and Local Flavor Awards, sponsored by TFCU, at 7 p.m. Thursday, August 4 in the Plaza Theatre. The winning entry will receive a table read at the free Filmmaker’s Brunch on Sunday, August 7 in the Foundation Room, 333 N. Oregon.

The 15th annual Plaza Classic Film Festival will feature more than 90 movies from July 28-August 7 in and around the Plaza Theatre. This year’s titles include a 70th anniversary showing of Singin’ in the Rain, 1983’s Scarface, Sleepless in Seattle, the 1950 version of Father of the Bride and our 14th annual free outdoor screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Passes are on sale now at plazaclassic.com/tickets. Tickets go on sale in early July.

Call 915-533-4020 or email local@plazaclassic.com for more information about the contest.


Local Flavor entries now being accepted


March 8

The Plaza Classic Film Festival is accepting entries for this year’s Local Flavor showcase, which moves this year to the Plaza Theatre.

The series features short and feature-length films that are made by, set in or in some way connect to the El Paso-Ciudad Juarez-Las Cruces area.

A total of $2,500 in cash prizes will be handed out on August 4 when the Local Flavor showcase and awards will be presented in the Plaza Theatre, the first time the shorts-heavy series will be presented in the historic 1930 movie palace. First prize is worth $1,000, with $750 for second prize, $500 for third prize and $250 for the audience favorite.

For the fifth straight year, the series will be curated by filmmakers Zach Passero and Lucky McKee, along with festival director Doug Pullen, program director for the El Paso Community Foundation, which produces the festival. They’ll choose the submissions that make it into the program, and the top three prize winning entrants.

To submit, go to plazaclassic.com/localflavor and fill out the submission form. More details are included on the Local Flavor page.

The deadline to submit is 11:59 p.m. Monday, June 20, 2022.

Selections will be announced in July.


Free Plaza Theatre tours return March 8


March 4

Free public tours of the historic Plaza Theatre Performing Arts Centre return at 12 noon, Tuesday, March 8. The tours, which are sponsored by El Paso Live and the El Paso Community Foundation, resume after being on hiatus since March 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Tours will be available every Tuesday at noon, with exception on event days, and registration is recommended. Availability is first come, first served. Those interested may reserve a spot by calling 915-544-0600. Groups of 20 or more may make special arrangements by calling ahead.

Tours are conducted by El Paso Community Foundation staff and volunteers. Tours last about an hour and include stops in the lobbies, foyer, and the star-lit “courtyard” auditorium, where the theater’s original Wyler Mighty Wurlitzer Pipe Organ is often featured. The tours also include the Philanthropy Theatre and Alcantar Sky Garden in the adjoining Plaza Theatre Annex.

“We’re very excited to welcome patrons into our historic theatre, for free,” said José Garcia, President, and CEO of Destination El Paso, which manages the theater for the City of El Paso. “The El Paso Community Foundation staff provides a detailed and rich history during the tour – perfect for visitors and residents alike.”

“The Plaza Theatre is a crown jewel for downtown. The tours offer important historical insight into all our community: lessons in grit, perseverance, and especially philanthropy,” said Eric Pearson, president of the El Paso Community Foundation, which restored the Plaza in partnership with the City of El Paso in 2006. “The Plaza Theatre should inspire everyone about possibilities, and it underscores the importance of the arts in economic development as well.”

The Plaza Theatre opened on September 12, 1930, as a single screen atmospheric movie palace, designed by Dallas architect W. Scott Dunne. The interior design of the 2,050-seat theater emulates a hacienda from the 17th century Spanish Colonial revival period.

The theater was closed for more than 20 years before reopening on March 17, 2006, following a $42 million restoration by the El Paso Community Foundation and the City of El Paso. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, with national significance.

The Plaza Theatre is operated by El Paso Live, a division of Destination El Paso. For information about the Plaza Theatre and its event schedule, go to elpasolive.com or call 915-534-0600.

The Plaza Theatre is the home of the El Paso Community Foundation’s Plaza Classic Film Festival, which celebrates its 15th year July 28-August 7. Watch for announcements about this year’s festival coming soon.