Art Commissioners to review new local film festival set for Feb. 2020

The Santa Clarita Arts Commission is set to discuss a new film festival scheduled to be held in February 2020, celebrating the SCV’s history in the movie industry.

The “Newhallywood Silent Film Festival … is intended to celebrate the rich cinema history of the Santa Clarita Valley and to highlight the origins of the movie industry,” according to a city staff report on the commission’s agenda for Thursday’s regularly scheduled meeting.  

The goal is to expand the festival and draw cinema lovers from across the U.S., the report noted.

The film festival is designed to feature multiple film screenings at various locations, such as William S. Hart Park, Heritage Junction, the Newhall Family Theater for the Performing Arts, Rancho Camulos Museum and The Main. Book signings, lectures, film historians and collections from the Natural History Museum are also expected to be a part of the event.

The focus of the very first festival in 2020 will be Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks, actors and producers in the early 1900s, who married in 1920. The event will celebrate the 100th anniversary of their personal and professional partnership.

The creation of this inaugural event stems from one of 41 recommendations under the Santa Clarita Arts Master Plan, which the City Council approved on March 9, 2016. A section of the plan under the Old Town Newhall Arts and Entertainment District recommends to “(e)xplore development of a film festival drawing on Santa Clarita’s heritage and ongoing relationship with the film industry, and utilizing the collection of small venues in and near Old Town Newhall.”

Planning has been in the works for the past year and a half among city staff, the Los Angeles County Natural History Museum and local film historian E.J. Stephens, whom will also produce the festival, according to the staff report. Other partners include the SCV Historical Society, Friends of Hart Park, California Institute of the Arts and the L.A. County Parks and Recreation Department.  

With a goal of growing the event, future potential partners include the local film industry, UCLA Film Archive and Laemmle Theaters, which has a new location under construction in Newhall.

Also on Thursday, commissioners will consider approving Miguel A. Del Real as the selected artist for the Santa Clarita Skate Park art project, which is proposed as a “focal point mural on the main entrance building and transforms it as a unique backdrop for the skate park,” the project description reads.

The budget for the project is set at $8,000 and the City Council would become aware of the selected artist via a project memo should commissioners approve the recommendation.

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Tammy Murga

Tammy Murga

Tammy Murga covers city hall and business for The Signal. She joined in the summer of 2018, previously working in Northern California as an assistant editor and reporter for the Lake County Record-Bee. In 2016, she graduated from Mount Saint Mary's University, Los Angeles. Have a story tip? Message her on Twitter or at [email protected]