Tall, thin, wiry, ruggedly handsome and with a distinctive Southern baritone, Sam Elliott is the picture of the classic American cowboy. He began his acting career on the stage. His film debut was in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Although his future wife, Katharine Ross, co-starred in the film, the two did not meet until they made The Legacy together. The couple will appear with both movies at this year’s Plaza Classic Film Festival. Elliott, whose parents and grandparents were from El Paso, was the hit of PCFF 2018, appearing for the United States debut of the pulp indie The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot. Since then, he co-starred in Bradley Cooper’s version of A Star Is Born, for which Sam was nominated for a best supporting actor Academy Award, amidst a slew of nominations and honors.
Over the years there would be few opportunities to act in feature westerns, but television gave Sam the opportunity, including The Sacketts, The Shadow Riders and The Yellow Road, among others. He would also work in non-westerns, usually as a tough guy, as in Lifeguard, Road House and Mask. In the 1990s, Elliott was back on the western trail, playing Brig. Gen. John Buford in Gettysburg, Virgil Earp in Tombstone, The Stranger (a cowboy) in The Big Lebowski, and Wild Bill Hickok in the made-for-TV movie Buffalo Girls. In 1991, he wrote the screenplay and co-starred with his wife in the made-for-TV western Conagher.
He also is the voice of TV commercials for Dodge Ram Trucks and Coors, and costarred with Ashton Kutcher in Netflix’s The Ranch. Sam has two films in post-production, providing the voice of Trusty in a new live-action version of Lady and the Tramp, and Ward Hill Lamon in The Gettysburg Address, a documentary about President Abraham Lincoln’s famous Civil War speech.
Sam Elliott and Katharine Ross will appear with ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’ at 7 p.m. Friday, August 2 in the Plaza Theatre, and ‘The Legacy’ at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, August 3, also in the Plaza Theatre.
Katharine Ross was born in Hollywood, but her family moved several times while her father was in the Navy, settling in Walnut Creek, near San Francisco, where she grew up. Moving to San Francisco, she began her acting career as an understudy in Actor’s Workshop productions, and was soon auditioning for roles. She worked mainly in television westerns in the first half of the 1960s, her natural beauty and strong acting chops being a strong asset in that genre. Her first film role was in the Civil War drama Shenandoah, starring James Stewart.
Ross’ career as a leading actress began in earnest in 1967 with a strong turn in Games, and her breakthrough performance as Elaine Robinson, the object of Dustin Hoffman’s desire in The Graduate, for which she was nominated for the best supporting actress Academy Award. As Etta Place in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Ross was part of the most memorable scene from that hit film, precariously perched barefoot on the bumper of that newfangled contraption, the bicycle, as Paul Newman’s Butch Cassidy takes her for a ride to the tune of B.J. Thomas’ Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head. The compelling Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here, which followed, was less of a box-office success but was highly regarded by the critics. Ross won a BAFTA Award for her work as Lola, a Paiute Indian. She switched gears with the 1975 black comedy/horror film The Stepford Wives, winning the Saturn Award for Best Actress, and 1976’ Voyage of the Damned, winning the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress.
She met future husband Sam Elliott while costarring in the 1978 cult horror classic The Legacy. They married in 1984 and have a daughter, Cleo. In 1991, Ross and Elliott adapted the Louis L’Amour novel Conagher for television. It is one of five TV movies in which they have appeared together. Ross’ other film and television credits include Willie Nelson’s Red Headed Stranger, cult favorite Donnie Darko, and 2017’s The Hero, with Elliott, and a 49-episode run on TV’s The Colbys.
Katharine Ross and Sam Elliott will appear with ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’ at 7 p.m. Friday, August 2 in the Plaza Theatre, and ‘The Legacy’ at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, August 3 in the Plaza Theatre.
Noted for her ability to consistently deliver honest and inspired performances on film, television and the stage, Kathleen Quinlan is an actress who strikes a true balance between critical and popular acclaim. She received Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations for her touching portrayal of Marilyn Lovell, the wife of astronaut Jim Lovell (Tom Hanks) in Ron Howard’s Apollo 13. Most recently she completed Mark Medoff’s Walking with Herb, based on the novel by Joe Bullock, working alongside Edward James Olmos and George Lopez in Las Cruces, New Mexico.
Kathleen made her screen debut in George Lucas’ American Graffiti. Other film credits include Oliver Stone’s The Doors, A Civil Action, Mark Medoff’s Clara’s Heart, Sunset, Twilight Zone: The Movie, Independence Day, *Sidney Poitier’s *Hanky Panky, Lifeguard, and I Never Promised You a Rose Garden, for which she received a Golden Globe nomination.
On television, she starred in CBS’ Family Law, and appeared in an acclaimed arc as Christina Scofield on the final season of Prison Break. Most recently, she has been seen in Marvel’s The Runaways. On stage, Quinlan appeared in Les Liaisons Dangereuses at the Ahmanson Theater in Los Angeles. She received a Theater World Award in 1978 for her performance in Joseph Papp’s Public Theater production of Taken In Marriage. Other stage credits include Uncommon Women and Others and Accent on Youth.
Kathleen has directed her first short, Diamond Girls. She lives on a ranch with her husband, designer/actor Bruce Abbott.
Kathleen Quinlan will appear with ‘Apollo 13’ at 7 p.m. Friday, August 9 in the Plaza Theatre, and ‘Clara’s Heart’ at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, August 10 in the Plaza Theatre.
British rock icon Morrissey refuses to watch films released after 1970. Laura Emerick, digital content editor for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and formerly the arts editor of the Chicago Sun-Times, agrees in principle with that philosophy, if not to that extreme. Her all-time favorite films all predate that watershed year: Vertigo (1958), The Leopard (1963), Sweet Smell of Success (1957) and The Grapes of Wrath (1940).
Golden-era films are among her passions, and that’s why the Plaza Classic Film Festival has become one of her favorite annual destinations — she has appeared at 10 of them! At the Sun-Times, she served for 20 years as the editor for film critic Roger Ebert, who used to insist that “if a movie is in black and white, there’s a better than 50 percent chance it will be worth seeing.”
Laura Emerick will introduce several films and give Film Talks during this year’s Plaza Classic Film Festival.
Jay Kleberg is the Director of Conservation Initiatives for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation and co-founder of Explore Ranches, an online ranch getaway platform with destinations in Texas, California, Colorado, and New Mexico. He dedicates his time to conserving Texas’ most pristine lands to benefit wildlife and provide recreational opportunities to the public.
He is a sixth generation Texan, born and raised on a working cattle ranch in South Texas. Jay lived in El Paso for eight years working in cities along both sides of the US-Mexico border and is credited, along with wife Christina, for bringing the Chalk the Block public arts festival concept to the Sun City. He has experience with long-distance expeditions, having piloted a single-engine Cessna 5,500 miles from the Amazon to Texas in 2003, traversed 2,700 miles by mountain bike along the Rocky Mountains from the US-Mexico border to Canada and paddled 264 miles of the San Marcos and Guadalupe Rivers as part of the Texas Water Safari.
Jay lives in Austin with his wife and three daughters. He served as a character and associate producer for the 2019 documentary The River and the Wall, which debuted at the South by Southwest festival.
Jay Kleberg will appear with ‘The River and the Wall’ at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, August 3 in the Philanthropy Theatre. KVIA news anchor Stephanie Valle will conduct the Q&A.
Ross Kagan Marks graduated from New Mexico State University in 1990. Ross was one of the youngest graduates of the prestigious American Film Institute Directing Program, where he received his M.F.A. in 1994. He directed the award-winning film Showdown on the Rio Road, featuring Robby Benson, and Homage, which starred Blythe Danner and was written-produced by the late Mark Medoff. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.
Other directing credits include The Twilight of the Gods, executive produced by the late Garry Marshall; the award-winning short film Princess; and The Heart Outright, adapted for the screen by Mark Medoff from his play of the same name, a sequel to When You Comin’ Back, Red Ryder? He is currently in post-production on his fifth feature film, Walking With Herb (due in the fall of 2019), starring Edward James Olmos, George Lopez, Kathleen Quinlan, Christopher MacDonald and Billy Boyd. It is the final screenplay from Mark Medoff, who passed on April 23, 2019.
Ross teaches at New Mexico State University’s Creative Media Institute. He is the Executive Director of the Las Cruces International Film Festival.
Ross Kagan Marks will interview Kathleen Quinlan before screenings of ‘Apollo 13’ at 7 p.m. Friday, August 9 in the Plaza Theatre, and ‘Clara’s Heart’ (written by Mark Medoff) at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, August 10 in the Plaza Theatre.
Scott McGee has shared his extensive movie knowledge with Plaza Classic Film Festival fans for six straight years. Scott is the senior director of original programs at Turner Classic Movies in Atlanta. As part of the team behind the TCM Classic Film Festival and the TCM Classic Cruise, he has programmed and introduced films and interviewed special guests at both events.
He serves as host of the TCM Podcast, and has spoken at the George Eastman House, the Plaza Classic Film Festival, the Atlanta Film Festival, the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival, as well as various universities and civic clubs. He is currently researching a forthcoming book on stunt work in movies.
Scott McGee will introduce several films as well as interview Sam Elliott and Katharine Ross with ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’ at 7 p.m. Friday, August 2 in the Plaza Theatre, and ‘The Legacy’ at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, August 3 in the Plaza Theatre.
Lucky McKee is an award-winning screenwriter, director, and novelist from El Paso best known for work in the horror genre, such as the 2002 cult hit May, the 2006 schoolgirl chiller The Woods and the notorious 2011 Sundance shocker The Woman. He produced last year’s The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot, starring Sam Elliott, which received its United States premiere at the Plaza Classic Film Festival.
In 2006 McKee joined Showtime’s groundbreaking anthology series Masters of Horror, directing the one-hour original film Sick Girl. McKee also contributed a segment to the 2015 anthology film Tales of Halloween. McKee has recently shifted his creative sights to noir-thrillers with Blood Money, starring John Cusack, and the upcoming Kindred Spirits, starring Caitlin Stasey, Thora Birch and Macon Blair. He has also co-authored three award-winning novels with Jack Ketchum: The Woman, I’m Not Sam and The Secret Life of Souls. He has been curating the Plaza Classic Film Festival’s Local Flavor showcase with Zach Passero since 2018.
Lucky McKee and Zach Passero will host ‘Local Flavor I’ at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, August 3 and ‘Local Flavor II’ at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, August 10 in the Philanthropy Theatre. They also will host the Local Flavor Awards at 2 p.m. Sunday, August 11 in the Foundation Room.
Writer, director and animator Zach Passero is an El Paso native who, from a young age, knew he wanted to make visual stories — an inkling fueled mainly by cartoons and Jim Henson. Zach attended the USC Cinema School, focusing on production and animation. He has been working as a director, editor and animator for films, television and commercials. He frequently collaborates as editor for Lucky McKee’s films (Red, The Woman, Tales of Halloween, PCFF 2014 inclusion All Cheerleaders Die and last year’s The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot).
He also edited horror sleeper Jug Face and NBC/Universal’s Brian Keene’s Ghoul. His animation sequences have been featured on Showtime’s Masters of Horror. In 2008, Passero directed the feature film, Wicked Lake. It and his Motel, Glimpse have been shown at the Plaza Classic Film Festival. His animated shorts, created with his wife Hannah, have been touring the world in film festivals.
Zach has been a part of the film festival from the start in 2008. This year, he is curating the Local Flavor showcase with Lucky McKee for the second time and finishing work on his animated The Weird Kidz.
Zach Passero and Lucky McKee will host ‘Local Flavor I’ at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, August 3 and ‘Local Flavor II’ at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, August 10, both in the Philanthropy Theatre. They also will host the second annual Local Flavor Awards at 2 p.m. Sunday, August 11 in the Foundation Room.
David Rabinowitz is an Academy Award-winning screenwriter and performer, and co-writer and co-producer of BlacKkKlansman. He got his start working as a multimedia producer for the Wall Street Journal. Since, he’s worked as a freelance video editor, copywriter, and motion graphics artist. David is from East Brunswick, New Jersey, and a graduate of Quinnipiac University. David and his writing partner Charlie Wachtel are currently working on an action-thriller called Thacher Island for Fox and Berlanti Productions, an adaptation of the book Animal by New York Times best-selling author Casey Sherman.
David Rabinowitz will appear with the one-year anniversary showing of ‘BlacKkKlansman,’ with screenwriter Charlie Wachtel, the book’s El Paso-based author, Ron Stallworth, and producer Shaun Redick at 10 p.m. Saturday, August 10 in the Plaza Theatre.
Shaun Redick is known for 2018 Academy Award winner Get Out and 2019 Academy Award winner BlacKkKlansman, which also won the Grand Prix award at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival in France. With over two decades as one of the industry’s leading motion picture packagers, producer Shaun Redick has successfully solidified himself among a limited number of experts in the field of feature film packaging, financing, production, and worldwide distribution.
In 2017, Shaun executive produced Get Out for Blumhouse and Universal Pictures. Directed by Jordan Peele, it became the best reviewed and most profitable movie of 2017, received four Academy Award nominations, and won for Best Original Screenplay. In recent years, Redick has produced many films, including multiple Academy Award nominee The Messenger, with Woody Harrelson and Ben Foster; multiple Independent Spirit Award nominee Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter, with Academy Award winner Alexander Payne; Paul Schrader’s Dog Eat Dog, with Academy Award winner Nicolas Cage and nominee Willem Dafoe; and And So It Goes, a romantic comedy directed by Rob Reiner and starring Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton.
In 2017, Shaun and his actress wife, El Paso/Juarez native Yvette Yates, launched Impossible Dream Entertainment to create, develop, finance and produce films and series content for a wide demographic audience. Their daughter Isabella was born in 2018.
Shaun Redick will appear with author Ron Stallworth and Oscar-winning screenwriters Charlie Wachtel and David Rabinowitz for a one-year anniversary screening of ‘BlacKkKlansman’ at 10 p.m. Saturday, August 10 in the Plaza Theatre.
Victoria Riskin is an award-winning writer and producer and the author of Fay Wray and Robert Riskin: A Hollywood Memoir, about her actress mother and screenwriter father. She served as president of the Writers Guild of America West, representing screen and television writers through the organization that her screenwriter father helped create three-quarters of a century earlier. She also served 12 years on the International Board of Human Rights Watch and chaired its Hellman-Hammett Committee, which distributed funds to persecuted writers around the world.
Riskin received a B.A. in humanities from the University of Southern California, a master’s in psychology from Antioch University, Los Angeles, and a Ph.D. in counseling psychology from USC. Before becoming a screenwriter and producer, she maintained a practice in psychology for 15 years. She currently serves on the board of directors of National Public Radio station KCRW in Santa Monica. Riskin resides in Martha’s Vineyard with her husband of 40 years, writer-producer David W. Rintels, and their dog, Mandy.
Victoria Riskin will appear with ‘King Kong’ at 7 p.m. Tuesday, August 7, ‘The Wedding March’ at 1 p.m. Tuesday, August 6, and ‘You Can’t Take It With You’ at 1 p.m. Wednesday, August 7, all in the Plaza Theatre. Victoria also will sign copies of her new book ‘Fay Wray and Robert Riskin: A Hollywood Memoir’ at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, August 7 in the Plaza Theatre lobby. There will be a charge for books.
El Pasoan Ron Stallworth is a law enforcement veteran and the first black detective in the Colorado Springs Police Department. He has worked undercover narcotics, vice, criminal intelligence, and organized crime beats in four states. His book Black Klansman: A Memoir is the basis for the Academy Award-winning motion picture BlacKkKlansman, co-written and directed by Spike Lee and starring John David Washington and Adam Driver. The film received six nominations at the 91st Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Supporting Actor, and won the award for Best Adapted Screenplay. The film also earned four nominations at the 76th Golden Globe Awards, including Best Motion Picture — Drama.
In 1978, Ron worked undercover and infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan chapter in Colorado Springs, Colorado. By recruiting his partner Chuck to play the “white” Ron Stallworth in person, while speaking as himself to Klan members over the phone, Ron helped sabotage cross burnings, expose white supremacists in the military, and combat domestic terrorism. Even more incredibly, Ron also befriended (and fooled) Grand Wizard David Duke. Later on, Ron led an undercover investigation into the anti-Klan protesters of the Progressive Labor Party.
Raised in El Paso, where he graduated from Austin High School, Ron received his B.A. in criminal justice administration from Columbia College in 2007. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the 1998 Outstanding National Leadership Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Gang Crime Research Center. His media appearances include interviews with MSNBC, CNN, NPR, BBC, and major newspapers and magazines.
In addition to Black Klansman, Ron also is the author of Bringing the Noise: Gangster-Reality Rap and the Dynamics of Black Social Revolution and Gangsta Code: The Sociological Implications of Gangster Rap Music and Hip Hop Culture. In 2019, Ron and his wife Patsy established the Elroy Bode Fund in the El Paso Community Foundation, a scholarship fund, named for their high school English teacher and Ron’s Black Klansman editor, for Austin High graduates pursuing studies in the language arts.
Ron Stallworth will appear for a one-year anniversary screening of ‘BlacKkKlansman’ at 10 p.m. Saturday, August 10 in the Plaza Theatre.
Known as one of America’s premiere concert and theater organists, Walt Strony has performed at seven Plaza Classic Film Festivals, having accompanied Buster Keaton’s The Cameraman in 2018, Sherlock Holmes in 2017, The Phantom of the Opera in 2016, The Mark of Zorro in 2015, Safety Last in 2014, The Thief of Baghdad in 2013 and The General in 2010. Walter, a protege of organist Al Melgard, made his public performing debut at age 18 with films and symphony orchestras all over the world, and is frequently featured at conventions of the American Guild of Organists and the American Theatre Organ Society, which twice voted him its Organist of the Year and inducted him into its hall of fame in 2011.
Walt Strony will accompany the silents shorts ‘Battle of the Century’ (Laurel and Hardy), ‘A Trip to the Moon’ (Georges Melies) and ‘Crazy Like a Fox’ (Charley Chase) as part of the free Plaza Days I program at 11 a.m. Thursday, August 1 in the Plaza Theatre. He also will accompany Cecil B. DeMille’s ‘The King of Kings’ at 3:30 p.m. Sunday, August 4 in the Plaza Theatre.
Charlie Wachtel is an Academy Award-winning screenwriter, filmmaker, and co-producer of BlacKkKlansman. Charlie is from East Brunswick, New Jersey, and a graduate of the acclaimed FAMU Film School in Prague and American University. He got his start in Los Angeles as a Hollywood assistant before working in advertising as a copywriter. Charlie and his writing partner David Rabinowitz are penning an action-thriller called Thacher Island for Fox and Berlanti Productions, an adaptation of the book Animal by New York Times best-selling author Casey Sherman.
Charlie Wachtel will appear with the one-year anniversary showing of ‘BlacKkKlansman,’ with screenwriter Charlie Wachtel, the book’s El Paso-based author, Ron Stallworth, and producer Shaun Redick at 10 p.m. Saturday, August 10 in the Plaza Theatre.
Bart Weiss is an award-winning independent film and video producer, director, editor and educator from Dallas. He is mostly known as the director and founder of the Dallas VideoFest. He produces the TV show Frame of Mind on KERA TV in Dallas, and is the artistic director of 3 Stars Cinema. He has traveled to Nigeria, Pakistan and China to show American documentaries for the U.S. State Department. He has taught film and video at Texas A&M’s Visualization Lab, Southern Methodist University, UT Austin, and West Virginia State College, and is currently an associate professor at UT Arlington.
He is a former president of the Association of Independent Video and Filmmakers (AIVF), former (and founding) board member Dallas Artists Research and Exhibition (DARE), past vice president of the Texas Association of Film and Tape Professionals (TAFTP), founder and past president of the West Virginia Filmmakers’ Guild, and co-founder of the Dallas Video Festival and the Video Association of Dallas. He has been a video columnist for the Dallas Morning News, Dallas Times Herald, and United Features Syndicate. Bart received an MFA in Film Directing from Columbia University in 1978 and a B.A. in Radio TV and Film from Temple University in 1975.
Bart Weiss will introduce several films and host the annual Filmmakers Brunch at 11 a.m. Sunday, August 11 in the Foundation Room. This year’s brunch will focus on his new “go-show” project, a video/podcast mashup for mobile devices called ‘The Fire Bones,’ and he’ll demonstrate the new DaVinci Resolve Cut Page.