Ali MacGraw gained international stardom as Jenny Cavalleri in the 1970 romantic drama, Love Story. Forty-five years later, she made headlines again by touring her co-star Ryan O’Neal in the A.R. Gurney play Love Letters.
After graduating from Wellesley college, she began her professional career in 1960 as Diana Vreeland’s assistant at Harper’s Bazaar. Later, she went to work as a stylist for fashion photographer Melvin Sokolsky in New York for six years.
Ali’s acting career began when producer Stanley R. Jaffe and director Larry Peerce offered her the leading role of Brenda Patamkin opposite Dick Benjamin in the screen version of Philip Roth’s short novel, Goodbye, Columbus. The movie was an international success, opening to tremendous popular and critical acclaim.
Her next picture was Love Story, and it proved to be her major break. An original screenplay (and later a best-selling novel) by Erich Segal, the film earned Ali international fame, an Academy Award nomination, a Golden Globe award, and many additional honors worldwide.
Ali’s third picture, The Getaway, co-starring her future husband, Steve McQueen, completed her trio of blockbuster films. After The Getaway, which was filmed largely in El Paso, Ali took a five-year hiatus from Hollywood to raise her son Joshua, son of Robert Evans. She returned to the screen to co-star in Sam Peckinpah’s Convoy with Kris Kristofferson. Her other film credits include Players co-starring Dean Paul Martin, and Just Tell Me What You Want, directed by Sidney Lumet and co-starring Alan King and Myrna Loy.
Ali has appeared in a number of television projects, including in Herman Wouk’s epic mini-series, The Winds of War, with Robert Mitchum. In addition, she guest-starred for a season on the popular ABC-TV series, Dynasty.
Ali’s autobiography, Moving Pictures, climbed the New York Times Bestseller List and went on to become an international bestseller in England, France and South America. She also teamed up with Warner Home Video to create the instructional yoga video called Yoga Mind & Body, featuring the highly respected yoga instructor, Erich Schiffman. It was filmed in White Sands, New Mexico, and remains popular in the U.S. and in Europe, having sold over 500,000 copies.
Ali currently lives near Santa Fe in New Mexico. She travels extensively, appearing in documentaries and working on behalf of numerous social, animal and environmental causes. This includes Animal Protection of New Mexico and a large number of specific animal sanctuaries here and abroad. She is actively involved with numerous non-profits in New Mexico including Dollars 4 Schools, International Folk Art Market, and various programs benefitting schools and animals. She received the Luminaria Award in 2008 from the Santa Fe Community Foundation, the Governor’s Award for contribution to the Arts in 2008, and the prestigious Santa Fe Living Treasures in 2016.
She is currently working for IBU Movement, benefitting women cooperatives all over the globe.
Ali MacGraw will appear with ‘Love Story’ at 7 p.m. Friday, August 3 and ‘The Getaway’ at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, August 4, both in the Plaza Theatre. Tickets are $10. She also will sign autographs from 1-2:30 p.m. Saturday, August 4 in the Foundation Room, 333 N. Oregon. Admission is free, but there will be a charge for autographs.
Two-time Oscar nominee Bruce Dern’s tremendous career is made up of playing both modern day heroes and legendary villains. Through decades of lauded performances, Dern has acquired the reputation of being one of the most talented and prolific actors of his generation. Dern has several high profile independent projects appearing in the film arena, including the recent Chappaquiddick, where he portrayed Joe Kennedy, White Boy Rick, opposite Matthew McConaughey, and the recently announced Emperor.
Bruce MacLeish Dern was born in 1936 in Chicago, to Jean (MacLeish) and John Henry Dern, a utility chief and attorney. His grandfather, George Dern, was FDR’s Secretary of War.
A celebrated stage actor, Dern was trained by famed director Elia Kazan at the legendary The Actor’s Studio and made his film debut in Kazan’s Wild River in 1960. In the ’60s, Dern also found success as a distinguished television actor. He appeared regularly in contemporary Western TV series, as well as on Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Hitchcock was such a fan of Dern’s that he cast him in Marnie and Family Plot (Hitchcock’s final film). Also during the ’60s, Dern went on to work with director Roger Corman and appeared in several of his classic and decade defining films including Wild Angels. He also received critical success during that time for films such as They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? and Drive, He Said. Dern goes down in history for his role as Long Hair in The Cowboys, in which he became the only man ever to kill John Wayne on screen.
Dern went on to star in such classic films like The King of Marvin Gardens with Jack Nicholson and Ellen Burstyn, as well as playing Tom Buchanan in The Great Gatsby (for which he received a Golden Globe nomination). It was his brilliant and powerful performance in Hal Ashby’s Coming Home that earned him both Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations.
Dern has starred in over 100 films in his career, including: Monster, Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte, Silent Running, Smile, Middle Age Crazy, That Championship Season, Tattoo, The ‘Burbs, The Haunting, All the Pretty Horses, Masked and Anonymous, Down in the Valley, Astronaut Farmer, The Cake Eaters, Black Sunday, Madison, Diggstown, Twixt and Last Man Standing (shot in El Paso).
In 2015, Dern reteamed with his Django Unchained director Quentin Tarantino in the ambitious & critically-acclaimed The Hateful Eight. In 2013, Dern earned his second Academy Award nomination for his heralded role in Alexander Payne’s Nebraska. That role also garnered him a Best Actor Award from the Cannes Film Festival and the National Board of Review. He was also nominated for a BAFTA, Golden Globe, Independent Spirit Award, Broadcast Film Critics Association Award and Screen Actors Guild Award.
Dern was also nominated for an Emmy in 2011 for his portrayal of polygamist patriarch Frank Harlow in HBO’s hit drama Big Love.
Dern has received several Lifetime Achievement Awards from various film festivals. In 2010, Dern received the prestigious Hollywood Walk of Fame star along with his ex-wife Diane Ladd and daughter Laura Dern, the only family in history to receive their stars in one ceremony.
Bruce Dern will appear with ‘Nebraska’ at 7 p.m. Friday, August 10 and ‘Coming Home’ at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, August 11, both in the Plaza Theatre. Tickets are $10. He also will sign autographs from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday, August 11 in the Foundation Room, 333 N. Oregon. Admission is free, but there will be a charge for autographs.
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 filmed The Legacy together.
Over the years there would be few opportunities to act in feature westerns, but television gave him 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. He stars in The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot, plays Bobby, the manager, in the forthcoming remake of A Star Is Born with Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga, and costars with Ashton Kutcher in Netflix’s The Ranch.
Sam Elliott will appear with the United States premiere of ‘The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot’ at 10:30 p.m. Friday, August 10 in the Plaza Theatre ($10). He will participate in a Q&A after the screening with writer-director Robert Krzykowski, El Paso-based producer Lucky McKee, El Paso-based editor Zach Passero and El Paso-based sound designer Andrew Smetek.
Known as one of America’s premiere concert and theater organists, Walt Strony has performed at six Plaza Classic Film Festivals, having accompanied 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 Charley Chase’s Mighty Like a Moose, Buster Keaton’s ‘Cops’ and Harold Lloyd’s ‘Get Out and Get Under’ during the free Plaza Days at 1 p.m. Thursday, August 2 in the Plaza Theatre. He also will accompany Buster Keaton’s silent classic ‘The Cameraman’ at 3:30 p.m. Sunday, August 5 in the Plaza Theatre.
Mexico’s Viviana Garcia Besne is a writer, director, film editor, documentarian and film preservationist. Viviana, who graduated from Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, also is the granddaughter of Mexican filmmaker Jorge Garcia Besne, who made the first El Santo movies, and the grand-niece of Mexican filmmakers and exhibitors Pedro A. Calderon, Jose Luis Calderon and Guillermo Calderon, whose string of border movie theaters included the Colon in downtown El Paso. Perdida, Viviana’s documentary about the Calderons and their mixed legacy, was a critical success and a hit on the worldwide festival circuit, including the Plaza Classic Film Festival in 2012.
Based in Tepoztan, Morelos, Viviana helped establish and runs the Permanencia Voluntaria and Baticine, an archive of more than 300 neglected Mexican films, such as wrestling and fichera (showgirls) movies. It also houses a small community movie theater. Both suffered damage in last year’s Mexico City earthquake. The collection includes the recently restored Santo Contra Cerebro del Mal (1961), the first to feature popular Mexican wrestling hero El Santo. The archive also has restored Sombra Verde, El Fantasma del Convento and the Calderons once-controversial Aventurera, which will be shown at this year’s Plaza Classic Film Festival.
Viviana Garcia Besne will appear with ‘Aventurera’ at 4 p.m. Friday, August 3 in the Plaza Theatre (tickets are $6) and ‘Perdida’ at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, August 4 in the Philanthropy Theatre (tickets are $4).
With a contacts list that reads like a who’s who of the entertainment world, veteran television producer and director Karen Cadle has produced and directed hundreds of celebrity interviews. She has run her agency, Karen Cadle International — one of the leading sources of celebrity guests at memorabilia and autograph conventions — since 1996. Karen first gained recognition for her eight-year stint on TV’s Hour Magazine, where she produced and directed presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter and stars such as Robert Redford, Lucille Ball and Carol Burnett. In demand as a celebrity producer and director, she has produced specials with Audrey Hepburn, Sophia Loren, Elizabeth Taylor, Bette Davis and others. Her producing credits include Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous and The Whoopi Goldberg Show.
Karen Cadle will interview Ali MacGraw with ‘Love Story’ at 7 p.m. Friday, August 3 and ‘The Getaway’ at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, August 4, both in the Plaza Theatre. Tickets are $10.
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 nine 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 movies and give Film Talks during PCFF 2018.
Director Robert Krzykowski was born in Albany, New York and raised in Turners Falls, Massachusetts. He created the cult comic Elsie Hooper while studying journalism and working for the newspaper at the University of Massachusetts. His film background includes live-action puppetry, animation, cloud tank photography, and classic effects techniques. He acted as a coproducer of Lucky McKee’s film The Woman, producer of Nick Searcy’s Carolina Low and writer, producer and director of Elsie Hooper, an animated short. The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot is his feature film debut, in collaboration with mentors John Sayles, Douglas Trumbull, and Lucky McKee.
Robert Krzykowski will appear for a Q&A after the screening of ‘The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot’ at 10:30 p.m. Friday, August 10 in the Plaza Theatre ($10). Joining him will be the film’s star, Sam Elliott, plus producer Lucky McKee, editor Zach Passero and sound designer Andrew Smetek.
Scott McGee has shared his extensive movie knowledge with Plaza Classic Film Festival fans for four straight years. Scott is the director of program production at Turner Classic Movies and its new streaming service, FilmStruck, a collaboration with the Criterion Collection. 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 interview Bruce Dern with ‘Nebraska’ at 7 p.m. Friday, August 10 and ‘Coming Home’ at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, August 11, both in the Plaza Theatre. Scott will introduce several films during PCFF 2018.
Tamar Muskal composed the music for the historic film La Venganza de Pancho Villa for a live string quartet, singers and soundtrack. It was first performed at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. The El Paso screening will be the second time it has been presented in the “cine concert” setting.
Tamar earned her bachelor’s degree in composition from the Jerusalem Academy for Music and Dance, where she studied with Mark Kopytman, and her master’s degree from Yale University, where she studied with Jacob Druckman and Martin Bresnick. She continued her studies at the City University of New York, where she studied with Tania leon and David Del Tredici.
Recent and future commissions include a double concerto for saxophone and viola for the Williamsport Symphony, a concerto for cello and electric bass for the Jerusalem Academy, music for Butoh Dance-Denmark, a piece for cellist Maya Beiser and a digital-interactive work by artist Daniel Rozin, a piece for the Close Encounters With Music series to celebrate the 100 anniversary of women’s suffrage, music for a documentary film about finding the cure for blindness (narrated by Robert Redford), and a song cycle for Jo Lawry, Sting’s backup singer, commissioned by ASCAP.
Ms. Muskal has served as the Westchester Philharmonic’s educational composer-in-residence in the years 2001-2004, and in that capacity composed three orchestral pieces based on student’s artwork and poetry. She also focuses on music for theater, composing music for Angels In America performed in Cincinnati, The Labor Of Life *and *The Seven Beggars performed at La Mama Theater in New York and Cristable and Trojan Women performed in New Haven.
Tamar’s awards and grants include the Academy of Arts and Letters (2004), the American Composers Forum/Jerome Foundation (2007), Fromm Music Foundation/Harvard University (2007), a Guggenheim Foundation fellowship (2009), Meet The Composer (2010) and first prize from the Third Millennium Ensemble (2013). Her piece The Yellow Wind was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 2006, and won the International Alliance for Women in Music’s Theodore Front Prize in 2007.
Tamar Muskal will appear with the El Paso-made silent film ‘La Venganza de Pancho Villa’ at 1 p.m. Sunday, August 12 in the Plaza Theatre. Tickets are $6.
Matt Ogens is an award-winning filmmaker, known for an evocative visual aesthetic where image and narrative are intertwined. His new feature documentary Home + Away follows three Bowie High School athletes living on the U.S.-Mexico border. It premiered at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival. Ogens works across a variety of media, including advertising, documentary, virtual and augmented reality. He got his start directing long-form docu-series for MTV, VH1, CBS, and CNN, and earned three Emmy nominations for his work for ESPN. His feature documentary Confessions of a Superhero premiered at SXSW to critical acclaim. Matt segued into commercials and branded content, working with top agencies and brands. He has helmed major commercial campaigns for Ford, Hyundai, ESPN, McDonald’s, Visa, Coors Light, and NASCAR, and has earned several awards such as a SXSW Interactive award, Clio, One Show pencils, and more. Other notable projects include the short documentary Kid Yamaka, which launched on Vice; North VR, a virtual reality film shot in Detroit; a Primetime Emmy Award for From Harlem with Love, about the Harlem Globetrotters for ESPN’s 30 for 30 series; and several short films for Stand Up 2 Cancer. Current projects include Why We Fight, an Emmy-nominated documentary series that Ogens created and executive produced, and a recent Emmy nomination for LA Louvre, an augmented reality film for RYOT and Huffington Post.
*Director Matt Ogens will appear with ‘Home + Away’ at 7:30 p.m. Friday, August 10 in the Philanthropy Theatre. He will participate in a post-screening Q&A with producer Nathaniel Greene and students Erik Espinoza, Shyanne Murguia and Franciso Mata. *
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 and and PCFF 2014 inclusion All Cheerleaders Die). 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.
Kim Tomadjoglou is an independent audio-visual curator, programmer and historian with a special interest in the work of women film pioneers, amateur and itinerant filmmakers and collectors. She has worked for institutions such as the National Gallery of Art, Library of Congress and American Film Institute (Washington, D.C.) and has curated museum and festival retrospectives for the Whitney Museum of American Art (NY); Kinoteka Asta Nielsen (Frankfort) and Il Cinema Ritrovata (Bologna, Italy), among others. She is in the process of revising her doctor thesis On the Border, The Transnational Media Practice of Fronterizo Empresarios Felix and Edmundo Padilla, 1916-1937 for publication.
Kim Tomadjoglou will appear with the silent movie ‘La Venganza de Pancho Villa’ at 1 p.m. Sunday, August 12 in the Plaza Theatre. Tickets are $6.
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 host the annual Filmmakers Brunch at 11 a.m. Sunday, August 12 in the Foundation Room. It’s free. This year’s program is called ‘Frame of Mind: Remixing the News’ and will examine 10 short films made from archival news footage taken by Dallas TV station WFAA.