Do you have your tickets to the Phoenix Film Festival? Arizona movie lovers shouldn’t miss out on the return of the festival, which runs from August 12th to the 22nd at the Harkins Scottsdale 101. I spoke with festival organizer Jason Carney to get the lowdown on this year’s movies and events.

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Ryan Bordow: How long does the festival last this year, and what’s the best way for people to get tickets if they don’t already have them?

Jason Carney: August 12th to the 22nd are our dates. You go to and click on “Festival”; that’ll give you all the films and tickets. There’s an “Events” page on our website that’ll give you all the special events information. Tickets are on sale. Our opening night film is actually sold out, which is kind of exciting. It’s fun to get back to it and start with a big crowd on opening night.

Ryan Bordow: What are the some of the ways you’re assuaging the worries people have about COVID?

Jason Carney: We’ve gotten rid of the lines. The lines used to snake through the lobby and pack the lobby up—we’ve eliminated that whole piece. Folks can pick up a voucher for the movies, go over to Harkins for the ticket and pick their seat, and skip the congregating together in the lobby part. Our schedule is also more spaced out to give some more breathing room and plenty of time to clean. There’s no big tent for the Party Pavilion this year, which is partly a heat thing, but also partly because it wouldn’t be a good idea to cram people in there on opening night like we would normally do. Our staff and volunteers are all masked up unless they show hard proof of their vaccination records, and even then, a lot of our folks will still mask up in the theater. We’ve got a lot going to know who’s who, who’s safe, and who’s not; and the Harkins staff is following that same rule. I feel pretty confident in what we’ve done to give everybody a good experience.

Ryan Bordow: You mentioned that the Party Pavilion won’t be open this year. What are some of the other activities that people can look forward to?

Jason Carney: We’ll still be doing some nightly parties, but they’ll be a bit more relaxed. We’re going to work with the restaurant right outside the theater, Cien Agaves, to open up the patio and some inside seating to us. But there’s still dampers on some of our normal big events: there’s no big live bands, no karaoke for sure—maybe no karaoke ever again. [Laughs] We’ve shrunk our big, on-stage filmmaker panels to filmmaker conversation, where we just have a couple filmmakers and more of a casual environment. We’re doing it at a storefront called LivGenerations, which is like a showroom for luxury senior living, so it’s a really nice place. It’s a good size, but it has a living room vibe to it. The whole energy is a little different this year.

Ryan Bordow: Sounds like a relaxing movie getaway. Do you have a number on the amount of screenings for this year?

Jason Carney: We will have 288 screenings over 11 days. 99 feature films, 115 or so short films. The variety is really huge this year. And with our Community Spotlight program, we have films from Asian-American, Black, Native American, Latinx, and LGBTQ communities too. There’s a really great film called A Shot Through the Dark, which was directed by an Asian-American woman. It’s about an Asian-American police officer running through a building after somebody, and his gun discharges through a wall and kills a Black teen. It has a veteran ensemble cast and it’s a tight 90 minutes. I really enjoyed that film. Our closing film is a great LGBTQ film—Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, which is about a teenage boy who wants to be drag queen in the UK. It was originally a musical on the West End. It’s a really feel-good, really great movie to close out the festival on a happy note with some good music.

Ryan Bordow: It seems like Arizona has a really great festival to look forward to!