El Paso’s iconic film historian reflects on the evolution of cinema

EL PASO, Texas – On Tuesday evening, ABC News presented “A Night in the Academy Museum”. The special show gave fans a glimpse into the amazing history, exhibits, and insight into the art of filmmaking of the past 120 years.

ABC-7 met an iconic El Pasoan who has been involved in filmmaking and its history for over 30 years.

Jay Duncan is one of El Paso’s film historians, film connoisseurs, film collectors and has been heavily involved in bringing any film to our region for the past three decades.

ABC-7 met him at the historic downtown Plaza Theater, the gem Duncan helped save from demolition in the 1970s.

ABC-7 asked Duncan, “What captivated you about cinema? What movie captured you?

“For me, I was very young and I remember very well sitting in the back seat of a cinema in a car, my mother and father in the front seat and seeing the day when the earth s ‘is arrested,’ Duncan said. “He’s the one that really interested me in cinema.”

He continued, “I thought the magic of the movies you … I mean you could see a giant squid, it wasn’t a real giant squid but you wondered ‘how did they do that?'”

Duncan said that for many people, movies have provided a way of getting away from it all.

“A lot of it was, I think, evasion. Because for an hour and a half or however long the movie was, the participant could actually escape real world realities for a short time, ”Duncan said.

The recent opening of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Hollywood boasts 13 million items, including costumes, film reels, and screenplays dating back to 1927 – all artifacts and memorabilia for future generations to see.

“Why is it important for us to preserve the film? It’s the only art that has the other arts, architecture, painting, theater, all other arts are in the movie – and I think it’s important that it’s preserved because it’s a capsule temporal of their creation, ”Duncan said.

Throughout his career as a film collector and historian, Duncan has met countless actors and directors and has been invited to speak at film conventions across the United States.

But although he’s dedicated decades to bringing movie history to our community through his Jay’s Pix and as the director of the Sunset Film Society series, Duncan remains modest.

ABC-7 asked, “What will your future be like in all of this? “

“Ah that’s a really tough question… I guess I’m going to have to rob banks,” Duncan replied.

Duncan will continue to serve on the Plaza Classic Film Festival advisory board in 2022.


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