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“E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” legacy lives on

A panel of crew members discuss the creation of E.T. during the 30th anniversary screening of “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” at the Palo Alto International Film Film Festival on Sept. 28. Photo by Phoebe So.

A large screen set up on High Street transforms a parking lot into an outdoor theater, which bustled with excitement on Sept. 28 at a special screening of Steven Spielberg’s “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.”

Presented by The Science and Technology Council of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, a 30th anniversary screening of “E.T.” was hosted by the Palo Alto International Film Festival, featuring a discussion with three crew members.

The screening took place at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 28 in a parking lot on High Street, in a closed off section between University and Hamilton Avenue. The parking lot was disguised behind an assortment of canopy tents, a stage and rows of neatly organized chairs, turning the area into an outdoor festival village, one of the many venues for PAIFF.

The onstage discussion from the crew members kicked off the event, featuring visual effects artist Dennis Muren, sound engineer Don Digirolamo, film editor Carol Littleton and moderator and “Variety” technology columnist David S. Cohen. Both Muren and Digirolamo won Academy Awards for their work on “E.T.” and Littleton also received a nomination.

During the onstage talk, the crew members discussed topics including the technology used in the filming of “E.T.”, the difficulties in humanizing the puppet E.T. and the movie’s unexpected success.

“If this film [“E.T.”] worked, it would be because E.T. worked,” Littleton said.

The viewing of the movie followed after approximately 30 minutes of discussion.

Viewers laughed at Elliott’s big-eyed reaction after meeting E.T. for the first time, watched intently as E.T. and Elliott biked across the night sky and shed tears when E.T. left earth to return home.

The outdoor theater will a host a variety of other movies during the duration of PAIFF, including the closing night feature, “Creature from the Black Lagoon” in 3D, at 8 p.m. on Sept. 30. All activities presented at the outdoor festival village are free and open to the public. To view a full schedule of PAIFF, visit

A figure depicting Elliott and E.T. hangs from a crane at the screening of “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.” The figure is imitating the iconic scene where Elliott and E.T. bike to the forest. Photo by Levi Schoeben.
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