Plaza Classic News El Paso Times

El Paso Times

Charles Horak has caught me up on some developments for this year’s Plaza Classic Film Festival, of which he’s artistic director. The sixth annual edition unspools Aug. 1-11. Here’s what’s new:

The first eight of more than 80 expected titles have been confirmed.

One of them is Steven Spielberg’s 1977 sci-fi classic “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” in which aliens from another world come for Richard Dreyfuss. It was shown during the first film festival (which was then known as The Movies Return) in 2008, but that was on the little screen in the Philanthropy Theatre. This will be on the 45-foot screen in the Plaza, where other Spielberg blockbusters, “Jaws” and “E.T.,” have drawn large crowds.

The festival also has locked in a restored print of the 1924 silent classic “The Thief of Bagdad,” directed by Raoul Walsh and starring Douglas Fairbanks. It will be accompanied by Walt Strony on the Plaza Theatre’s Wyler Mighty Wurlitzer organ.

Also confirmed: Judy Garland in “Meet Me in St. Louis” (1944) and Japanese auteur Hayao Miyazaki’s 1997 animated fantasy “Princess Mononoke” (imagine seeing that on the big screen). The festival also has announced the additions of “War of the Worlds,” “The Big Sleep,” “The Adventures of Robin Hood” and “Now, Voyager.”

The festival, which recently redesigned its website, has begun running contests in which snippets of four movie posters are posted on the website. Correctly guess all four to win tickets to this year’s festival.

VIP passes cost $200 and include all kinds of perks. Teens ages 14 to 18 can purchase $100 VIP passes, which include membership in the festival’s film club and access to filmmakers and other festival guest speakers. The club is limited to 25 members.

Passes are on sale on the website,, or by calling the El Paso Community Foundation, which produces the festival, at 533-4020.

For the third straight year, Horak has been working on an exhibit to complement the movies. This year’s will shine a light on the visual artists behind the movies. It’s called “Moving Pictures: Storyboards and Concept Art for the Cinema.” It will open in late July at the El Paso Museum of Art, where the festival curated “The Ten Commandments” exhibit in 2011 and costume designs by Edith Head in 2012.

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