MCKINNEY, TX: Dena Hill, founding director of this coming weekend’s inaugural McKinney Classic Film Festival, has been passionate about preserving and sharing classic films since she can remember.
“This is a life long dream for me,” Hill says. “This brings back all those happy memories of times when my parents and I watched films together, and I want to promote that.”
Together, Hill, a journalist and arts and entertainment writer with a background in theater, and executive producer, actor and lawyer Bert Pigg, are excited about bringing the classic film festival to McKinney’s Performing Arts Center.
The McKinney Classic Film Festival begins Friday, September 11 at the McKinney Performing Arts Center at 111 N. Tennessee Street and runs through Sunday, September 13. A total of five classic black and white films that span the 1930s to the 1960s, will be screened throughout the festival.
“I think it’s important to preserve the legacy of classic films,” Pigg says. “Current films own much to classic film and modern audiences don’t understand that.”
The five films that will be screened are: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), Inherit the Wind (1960), 12 Angry Men (1957), To Kill a Mockingbird (1962), and Adam’s Rib (1949). The films connecting theme – the issue of justice – is more than fitting, when you consider that the McKinney Performing Arts Center is located inside the Historic Collin County Courthouse. The theme is also one that we can all relate to on a human level.
“We thought for the first festival, justice would be the perfect theme,” Pigg says. “It’s a way to honor the Performing Arts Center since it was a courthouse for many years. It’s a beautiful building. What a great way to preserve it rather than turning it into restaurants or tear it down.”
Hill admits that they hope to create a family friendly trip back in time.
“Going to the movies used to be an event. People used to dress-up. We want to recreate that.”
“We want to create a community and build something special for people who love classic films. I hope we get 16-years-olds who say, ‘Wow I didn’t know there was a big to do about evolution and wow that Spencer Tracy is a really good actor.’”
The festival’s inaugural guest of honor will be Mary Badham who portrayed “Scout” in the 1962 film To Kill A Mockingbird. Badham will discuss her career and life during an onstage interview prior to the evening’s screening of the movie on Saturday evening, Sept. 12.
“Mary will walk the red carpet, then there will be a pre-show and VIP reception with her,” Hill says with excitement in her voice. “Anyone can come and walk the red carpet and have their picture taken!”
And, there’s a closing party after Adam’s Rib on Sunday with the McKinney Community Band playing music from the eras the films were made.
“We’ve encouraged people to dress up, in 1920s glamour style, Hollywood style, or in other ways that they would like!”
McKinney is #1 on the list of Best Places to Live in America, (Money Magazine) and is located 30 miles north of Dallas and is the county seat of Collin County.
“We’re getting support from locals putting our posters in their windows,” Hills, who also lives in McKinney, says. “The concessions are all provided by local vendors and businesses on the square are very supportive. People in the community are very excited.”
Pigg says there are two things that set the McKinney Classic Film Festival apart from other film festivals: there are no other classic film festivals in North Texas and the film selections are based on genres. Hill and Pigg have already selected net year’s genre – screwball comedies.
“We’ve got to see how this year goes,” Pigg says. “We’re not trying to become TCM but we want a base hit. If we get that, maybe next year we’ll hit another. So we’ll see what works, what doesn’t, and what can we do better because it’s a learning process.”
Pigg adds that if this year’s festival is successful, he’d like to add an educational element, perhaps an hour session on what screwball comedy is, for example.
So this weekend, let’s go back in time to a special place and watch some great classic films. Let’s go to the McKinney Classic Film Festival. For tickets, screening times and directions, please click here.
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