Take heed, Arizona movie lovers—you don’t want to miss this year’s Phoenix Film Festival! The yearly event returns from March 31st to April 10th at the Harkins Scottsdale 101, and tickets are on sale at PhoenixFilmFestival.com. I spoke with festival organizer Jason Carney to get the scoop on this year’s movies and events.
Ryan Bordow: What are some of the movies that people can look forward to this year?
Jason Carney: Oh my gosh, we have this crazy movie, the one where Nic Cage plays himself—The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent. We’re so excited to have it. We’re playing it on the second Saturday, so it’s totally the perfect Saturday night movie. We just picked up another movie that fascinates me; it’s called Marcel the Shell with Shoes On.
I forgot they were making a movie out of that. I remember the original YouTube video.
Yeah, and they’ve done a couple of children’s books that are bestsellers, so they put together the feature and A24 is releasing it. It’s always fun to go for a ride with an A24 movie, so we booked that as our other Saturday night movie. We’ve got a couple of interesting Saturdays. We also have The Phantom of the Open with Mark Rylance, who’s always good. We’ve got a movie called The Duke with Jim Broadbent and Helen Mirren; there’s Summering, the new James Ponsoldt movie—he’s always done some interesting stuff, so I’m really happy about that one. Our closing night movie is gonna be Montana Story, which stars Haley Lu Richardson, who’s a Phoenix native. It’s a modern-day Westernish family drama; the cinematography is amazing. It’s gonna be insane how gorgeous that movie is going to look on the Cine Capri screen. We’re also showing After Yang, which is another A24 movie with a great cast. Part of our thing is spotlighting movies from different communities, so having a film directed by an Asian American is a big deal for us. We’ve grown our community spotlight screenings with films from Asian American, Black, Native American, Latin American, and queer directors. It’s nice to continue to grow that program up. We’re also doing, for the first time, five on-screen captioned screenings for the deaf community. And of course, we have short films—a ton of those.
What kinds of events are there this year?
The Party Pavilion makes its grand return! We’ve switched to a type of tent that has airflow through the walls, and one end is completely open to a patio area. We’re trying to enhance comfort for people who come to the events. We’ll have our big opening night cocktail party in there, and then on Friday night we have industry night, the big networking event of the year for local film, and then on Saturday night is our “film prom.” We put it on for the first time last year, and it was great—everybody dressed up, and we had cheesy prom photos with the whole backdrop and balloon art. We’re gonna continue to blow that out this year with a 90s theme.
Are there any panels this year?
Yeah, and we’re moving those inside the theater. We’ve had some warm days in the past, and there’s a lot of traffic and noise outside, so we’re squeezing panels in between screenings inside the theater. We’ll do five panels each weekend, three on Saturday and two on Sunday. And once again, they’re free—you just have to get a seat assignment. It’s a great opportunity to learn and hear stories from the filmmakers.
Is there anything for kids and families to do?
Yeah, we’ve got our kids’ day event in the Party Pavilion on Saturday from 10 to 3. There’ll be hands-on things like animation and green screen; Bookmans will be there with the red carpet setup so kids can take their pictures. It’s free, and it’s a great way to bring your kids out.
Sounds like a great time!