Why I made “When the World Came to San Francisco”

By R. Christian Anderson

I was inspired to make this feature-length narrative drama when I was was given 2 large photo albums that belonged to Reyna Belasco Rosenthal (1895-1976). She was 20 when she visited the Panama-Pacific International Exposition with her family. The albums contain over 260 photos taken at the fair. Reyna was also the niece of famed New York stage producer and playwright David Belasco and had a stage career as a child dancer on the stage. Reyna’s father Solomon Belasco was a shareholder for the Exposition, and with his family, was able to visit the fair 14 times over the course of its run. Since the 100th anniversary was quickly approaching, I began working on this feature to showcase this marvelous event, which will be told through Reyna’s eyes and photos. Though this remarkable fair lasted only 9 months, it hosted almost 19 million visitors, showcased for over 2 dozen foreign countries, 27 states, and became a celebration of the rebuilding of San Francisco following the devastating earthquake and fire of 1906. I already had a head start on the film, since I’ve been collecting memorabilia and souvenirs of historic San Francisco for over 38 years. Since beginning this film, I’ve been painstakingly collecting, sorting, and digitally restoring hundreds of images of the fair especially for this the film”. The film will be told in dramatic style through Reyna’s eyes by actress Beverly Washburn, who many will remember from her appearance on the original “Star Trek” and her 3 appearances on “The Streets of San Francisco” television show from the 1970s.

When the World Came to San Francisco will premiere on June 20th at the Panama-Pacific Centennial Concert, held at the Palace of Fine Arts Theater. Get tickets.

Christian was born in Los Angeles and raised in Hollywood, Christian’s mother was a popular announcer for radio station KMPC. From the age of three he was performing in live radio commercials on her program. His late step-father was Raymond D. Bowman, a noted concert presenter and classical music critic. Though he considers San Francisco his home town, in 2009 he relocated to Las Vegas, Nevada where he now writes and directs short and feature films.