Tag Archives: independent films

2012 Film festival fare

For true movie buffs, just one movie never enough. But 145 movies just might be. That’s the number of selections being featured at the 2012 Sedona International Film Festival, which takes place Feb. 18-26. Think full-length features, shorts and documentaries. Also animated, foreign and student films.

I’m told that Kevin Clash, the puppeteer featured in the documentary “Being Elmo” (which is narrated by Whoopi Goldberg) will be making an appearance at the 18th annual festival. “Being Elmo” won the special jury prize for documentary at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.

The Sedona International Film Festival is partnering with Arizona Musicfest to present a jazz concert featuring the Brubeck Brothers, and the screening of a new film about Marian McPartland, at the Sedona High School Performing Arts Center.

Advance-sale passes for the 18th annual Sedona International Film Festival are now available through www.sedonafilmfestival.com. Full-time students can purchase a 10 ticket package for just $80 by calling the festival box office at (928) 282-1177.

The 2012 Arizona International Film Festival takes place April 13-29 in Tucson and other southern Arizona communities. They’re currently seeking works by filmmakers age 18 and under to be featured in their “Indie Youth” program.

Submissions are welcome in several categories — dramatic, comedy, documentary, experimental and animation short. Information about opportunities for youth and adult filmmakers is available at www.filmfestivalarizona.com.

The 2012 Greater Phoenix Jewish Film Festival, featuring works that honor Jewish tradition and heritage, takes place Feb. 12-26 at three Harkins Theatres in the Phoenix metropolitan area.

The festival includes numerous Arizona and “area” premieres, and several guest speaker presentations. I’m especially pleased to see “The People v. Leo Frank” and “Hidden Children” in the festival line-up.

If you’re eager to sample a bit of independent film fare before 2012 festivals open, check out FilmBar in Phoenix (which has a nifty “Arizona Storytellers Project” event taking place Mon, Dec. 5 to benefit Republic Charities), The Loft Cinema in Tucson (which is doing a fun Eames chair giveaway on Thurs, Dec. 8) and Reel Arts 6 in Tucson (which is just wrapping up this year’s “Native Eyes Film Showcase“).

Or head to Harkins Camelview 5 in Scottsdale, Harkins Valley Art in Tempe, or the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts — which is featuring an especially controversial mature content movie for this month’s “Talk Cinema” selection.

— Lynn

Coming up: More film festival news, Family fun in Prescott


Film finds

!Women Art Revolution is one of several current offerings at FilmBar in Phoenix

You can find much more than film fare at plenty of movie theaters these days. Even Shakespeare in Cinema works that seem to transport you straight to the Globe Theatre in London.

And film offerings seem to be finding their way to lots of places other than traditional cinemas. Think bookstores, museums, performing arts venues and more. Even stores like Hoodlums Music and Movies and Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe, which presents “In Transition” during their next community movie night, scheduled for Fri, Aug 26.

When you have a hankering for films or movie venues that are just a bit out of the ordinary, consider making an afternoon or evening of it with one of these Valley options…

Finding film at a joint called FilmBar Phoenix is hardly a shocker, but their offerings are certainly out of the ordinary. In August alone featured works deal with martial arts, the culture of war, feminist art and changes wrought on nature by increasing industrialization.

The 2011-12 Talk Cinema series at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts opens in October. You can enjoy the surprise of not knowing what to expect or check the center’s website the day before each screening to explore the month’s offering. Each “Talk Cinema” screening is introduced and followed by “moderated conversations hosted by distinguished guest speakers.”

Performing arts venues like Tempe Center for the Arts and Mesa Arts Center sometimes present special movie screenings, so film buffs should watch the calendars of these venues to see what pops up throughout the season.

Several community colleges offer film series or festivals with diverse themes. Scottsdale Community College has partnered for many years with the Anti-Defamation League to present a film series with an anti-hate theme.

Paradise Valley Community College is focusing on “women in film” this season. The first film of the season is “Amelie” — a French film they’ll present on Wed, Sept 7. Other fall films in the series hail from Spain, China and the U.S. Offerings next year include films from Germany, Lebanon, India and Columbia.

Several Valley museums, including the Heard Museum in Phoenix and the Phoenix Art Museum, present intriguing film works — including some it’s hard to find anywhere else.

Several films being shown this month and next at the Phoenix Art Museum are Spanish-language films with English subtitles — including works about circus life, women matadors, immigration and more. My favorite is a one-hour film called “Biblioburro” about a one-of-a-kind library and librarian in a violence-ridden region of Colombia.

Cultural Centers like the Arizona Latino Arts and Cultural Center in downtown Phoenix sometimes offer screenings of independent works, as do other cultural resources like libraries.

The Arizona Humanities Council website offers event listings by region so its always easy to find film and other offerings in your area. Film screenings and discussions of “Johnny Guitar” take place later this month in Florence and Glendale — and they’ve got several “Borderlands” films listed for the coming months.

Films don’t need to include talking animals or non-stop explosions to be fun. You’ll even learn to love them without salty popcorn or sugary drinks. Leave the kids behind once and a while to expore a world where films foster adult conversations on fascinating topics other than organic baby food and homework wars.

— Lynn

Coming up: Film festivals in the Valley — and beyond, Lynn & Liz review “Glee: The 3D Concert Movie”

Celebrate women’s art!

Today marks the 100th annual  “International Women’s Day” — which celebrates the economic, political and social achievements of women.

It’s a lovely excuse to pause for a moment (or more) to reflect on the role of women in our personal and collective histories — and to enjoy an online collection of artworks by women from around the globe.

The “Global IWD Arts Initiative” features works by diverse women who aim to “inspire, challenge, entertain and provoke thought from a gender angle.”

Click here to enjoy some of their paintings, sculpture, photographs, drawings, sketches, collages and more — as well as stories written by women with diverse voices.

“International Women’s Day” is also a perfect reminder that women artists in our own neighborhoods and local communitiesare are doing remarkable things — and deserve our support.

The Arizona Women’s Theatre Company presents their 5th annual “Pandora Festival” May 20-22 at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts — for which auditions are being held Sat, April 9, from 1-5:30pm.

The festival is focused on new works — which are presented as “staged readings.” This year’s festival will be the first to include the works of women playwrights within and outside of Arizona.

Arizona Women’s Theatre Company describes itself as “the only theatre in Arizona to focus on women playwrights and directors.” They specialize is producing “contemporary, provocative, thought-provoking plays written by women.”

But what about those among us who dream of dramaturgy? The Arizona Women’s Theatre Company presents a dramaturgy workshop as part of this year’s fastival. “Developing New Plays-Dramaturgy: Its Meaning and Uses” takes place Sat, April 30, from 1-4:30pm in Scottsdale.

The workshop will be led by Laurie Brooks, an award-winning playwright and fiction author — and is open to “invited playwrights, directors and actors involved in the festival.”

I’m intrigued by not only her young adult title, “Selkie Girl,” but also the names of several of her plays — including “Everyday Heroes,” “The Lost Ones, “Atypical Boy,” and “Brave No World.”

I saw the Arizona School for the Arts theatre arts department perform Brooks’ “The Wrestling Season” several years ago, and will be enjoying Brooks’ work again as ASA students present her play titled “Triangle” April 29-May 1 at the Phoenix Theatre Little Theatre.

We all work our art in different ways. Still, there’s one thing many of us have in common — an abiding gratitude for the many women who connect us to the past, enrich us in the present, and pull us forward towards the future.

— Lynn

Note: Click here to learn more about an independent film titled “Pushing the Elephant,” which airs later this month on PBS as part of its “Independent Lens” series. The film follows Rose Mapendo, a mother of 10 who escaped from the Democratic Republic of Congo during the late 1990s. Click here for information on screenings in Tucson and other cities.

Coming up: Seeing red in Arizona, Immigration takes the stage

Fun with film

I rarely pause to consider what life might be like as a lottery winner. It’s rather a moot point since I’m not much of a player, but something I read the other day got me to thinking. If I had extra time and money on my hands, how might I want to spend it?

Reading more books. Giving to favorite causes. Traveling the globe. These things have long been on my wish list. But something else now strikes my fancy — exploring the wonderful world of film festivals.

I could start close to home with the Scottsdale Film Festival — taking place this year from Oct 1 to Oct 5 at Harkins Camelview Theatre near Scottsdale Fashion Square, a longtime movie theater favorite for me and my kids (who all favor somewhat out of the ordinary fare).

The festival actually kicks off Friday evening with an opening film, “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest,” followed by an opening night party. Festival offerings include Arizona premieres and Oscar contenders, as well as three “spotlight on Mexico” films and four “spotlight on France” films.

Scottsdale also is home to a festival-style experience termed “Talk Cinema.” It’s a film series presented at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, and the 2010-2011 series kicks off Oct 19. All films are shown on Tuesday evenings at 7pm in their Virginia G. Piper Theater.

“Talk Cinema” film selections are kept under wraps until “shortly before each screening” and viewers have the option of going online to read a “spoiler” ahead of time or attending without knowing what to expect. All screenings are followed by moderated conversations with distinguished critics, and viewers get to write their own film reviews.

Paradise Valley Community College presents “Film Festival at PVCC” — a series of film events held monthly (Wednesday evenings at 6:0pm). The next film they’ll show is the 1985 Swedish movie titled “My Life as a Dog” — a PG-13 flick scheduled for Sept 29 at the PVCC Center for the Performing Arts.

PVCC also will present films from Germany, France, Norway and other countries — as well as two PVCC Student Film Festivals during the academic year. Student film festivals — scheduled for Dec 10 and May 9 — take place at 7:30pm and admission is free.

The Arizona Humanities Council presents “The Paul Espinosa Border Film Festival” on Saturday, Oct 2, from 4pm-10pm in Yuma. The free event, which explores “the dynamics of southwestern border history and culture,” features three award-winning films.

This festival takes place at the Yuma Arts Center and historic Yuma theatre. Films are introduced by filmmaker Paul Espinosa and followed by a discussion with experts and the filmmaker.

Finally, a film I wish every parent would see — the documentary “Race to Nowhere,” to be shown Nov 9 at 4:30pm and 7:30pm at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Amado (south of Tucson).  It’s rated PG-13, runs just 85 minutes and has Spanish subtitles.

“Race to Nowhere” is “about the pressures faced by American school children and their teachers in a system and culture obsessed with the illusion of achievement, competition and the pressure to perform.”

It sounds like a great excuse to grab some fellow parents or teachers for a grown-up field trip that’ll lend itself to plenty of lively discussion on the drive home.

If you stop on the way for lottery tickets, just make sure you promise to share the bounty.