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The New China Cafe, designed by architect Clarence Cullimore, opened in 1928. Previously a special-needs daycare, it is now home to Inclusion Films.

History meets innovation when two institutions — one early 20th century, the other early 21st century — merge this month in Bakersfield.

Inclusion Films, a 12-year-old nonprofit that teaches filmmaking to individuals with developmental disabilities, is moving its Bakersfield office — one of the L.A.-based company's five production studios in the state — to the New China Cafe.

That's the ornate, green-awninged brick building at 801 18th St. — built in 1928 in the heart of what was then Bakersfield's thriving Chinatown district by legendary local architect Clarence Cullimore.

Cullimore gave the building a distinctive hipped tile roof and, lining the bottom of the facade, a row of green tile with ornamental Chinese characters. The walls are Flemish bond brick laid in a criss-cross pattern of red and black, a design that survived the 1952 earthquake generally intact.

The Toy family operated the cafe full time until about 1965. In the years since, its tenants have included Golden Empire Ambulance; Land Aides Inc., the company that was developing the "town" of McCallister Ranch; and the Jasmine Nyree Day Center, Teri McClanahan's daycare for children with special needs.

Inclusion Films will have completed the move to the old cafe from its current location on 19th Street by the end of June, Executive Director Dale Oprandy told me Tuesday.

"We need more space and we've got it here," Oprandy said. "We can shoot street scenes here and some backlot stuff. I love the historic building and its (closed-off) tunnels under the street."

The school, opened in 2007 by Joey Travolta, teaches students every aspect of filmmaking, including writing, editing, lighting and set design.

The school has nailed down a date for its next release, Oprandy told me: The Christmas-themed film, "Carol of the Bells" — shot primarily in Bakersfield — will premiere on Sept. 30 at the Fox Theater.

"Seventy percent of the cast and crew have a disability of some kind," Oprandy said. "That's a first for a Hollywood motion picture."

The film stars R.J. Mitre (Bryan Cranston's son in "Breaking Bad"), Donna Mills ("Knots Landing") and Donna Pescow ("Saturday Night Fever").

It's the story of a troubled young man who searches for and finds his biological mother, then is devastated to learn she is developmentally disabled. 

•••

Reaching the age of 100 is a milestone worthy of celebration, and 110 is special indeed. What then can we say about Opal Goode of Ridgecrest? She celebrated her 112th birthday Monday and the whole town threw her a party Tuesday. The Burroughs High School marching band was on hand, as were Ridgecrest Mayor Peggy Breeden and a regional executive for Bank of America, which employed Opal for 20 years.

She is one of eight U.S residents over the age of 110, reports Bank of America, which sponsored the party. "Opal started her career at Bank of America in 1946 — the same year the United Nations met for the first time, and the bikini was first sold," the bank's public relations department notes helpfully. "Born on June 3, 1907, she's older than her home state of Oklahoma."

Happy birthday, Opal.

•••

Speaking of parties, the CALM zoo will hold its second Wine in the Wild event Thursday night. 

Proceeds will help CALM complete renovations to exhibits such as the Raptor Round, Reptile House and Mammal Round and support CALM's wildlife rehabilitation efforts, which last year aided 1,000 animals.

Your $75 ticket gets you unlimited food, wine and beer tastings. To purchase your pass, visit calmzoo.org and click on Events.

Contact The Californian’s Robert Price at 661-395-7399, rprice@bakersfield.com or on Twitter: @stubblebuzz. His column appears on Sundays, Wednesdays and Saturdays; the views expressed are his own.

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