Celluloid Desert: Tucson in Cinema History

Class Dates

March 09, 2021 to April 06, 2021

Meeting Days

Tuesdays, 5 - 6 PM


Online Course



Course Instructor(s)

Course Description

Just 15 years after the birth of the moving image, the first film was shot in Tucson. Sunshine, railroad access, and exotic flora, fauna, and faces made Tucson an ideal movie location. Images of the frontier, the Old West, and the New West have been shaped in the public imagination by our celluloid desert. Join film scholar and cultural critic Jennifer Jenkins as she discusses some of the many iterations of film in Tucson, including early silent films, Hollywood westerns, melodramas, mysteries, television series, commercials, and homemade films about the region. Participants will  gain an understanding of the mechanics of the early moving image,  the ways in which cinemagoing changed as the medium evolved, and an historical understanding of the visual and cultural thematics of films shot in our desert region. 

This online course is offered in partnership with The Loft Cinema.

Course Format

In each of the five weeks, a one-hour asynchronous pre-recorded session will introduce topics and films for the week. One-hour live Zoom sessions on Tuesdays will incorporate viewings of clips and shorter films, some lecture, and discussion.

Participants may wish to view full-length movies discussed in the course on their own time via a streaming platform of their choice.


Online registration for this course is now open.  After registration participants will receive instructions about how to access the course online. 


Refunds are available and need to be requested before or by March 15. To drop a class, please contact Kerstin Miller at 520-621-5111 or kbmiller@email.arizona.edu. A $25 administrative fee for each cancellation will apply.