Was there ever really a “film festival” season? It seems you can’t go more than a few weeks without news of films premiering at another film fest, and while we’re only less than three months into the year we’ve already seen two of the big ones in Sundance and SXSW. Smaller fests may not carry the same name recognition, but for filmmakers and film lovers, they’re often just as beloved.
The Phoenix Film Festival runs April 4th-11th and celebrates its 13th year of bringing a fine selection of new and award-winning films to Arizona. This year will see over 140 features and shorts playing across the eight days of the fest and, conveniently enough, the fest has once again taken over a multiplex to keep all of the screenings and events in one central location. Check out the official site for more details and to buy tickets.
The Spectacular Now has just been announced as the opening night film, and director James Ponsoldt will be on hand as well to introduce and offer a Q&A. The Sundance/SXSW favorite joins other acclaimed films like The East, The Retrieval, Kon-Tiki, and The Kings of Summer in what promises to me a fantastic time at the movies. For all the new films playing though my most anticipated screening is John Carpenter’s They Live, with Meg Foster in attendance. Keep reading for a look at several of the other features playing this year.
THE EAST, directed by Zal Batmanglij, Sarah Moss (Brit Marling) is a brilliant operative for an elite private intelligence firm whose top objective is to ruthlessly protect the interests of their A-list corporate clientele.
UNDERDOGS, directed by Doug Dearth, the story of a small-town high school football team destined to play their cross-town rival, a perennial powerhouse, while standing up for an entire community.
THE KINGS OF SUMMER, directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts, about three unhappy teenage boys head into the wilderness with a plan to build a house and live off the land.
STUCK IN LOVE, directed by Josh Boone, a touching comedy-drama about a successful novelist whose obsession with his ex-wife has sent his perplexed family into a tailspin.
UNFINISHED SONG, directed by Paul Andrew Williams, a funny and inspiring story about Arthur, a curmudgeonly old soul, who is perfectly content sticking with his dull daily routine until his beloved wife introduces him to a local seniors singing group.
KON-TIKI, directed by Joachim Rønning, Espen Sandberg, which is about the of legendary explorer Thor Heyerdal’s epic 4,300 miles crossing of the Pacific on a balsa wood raft in 1947, in an effort to prove it was possible for South Americans to settle in Polynesia in pre-Columbian times.
RENOIR, directed by Gilles Bourdos, a film a painter whose life is changed when a young girl enters his life, filling it with an unexpected energy.
STILL MINE, directed by Michael McGowan and starring James Cromwell, is about an elderly couple fight against local authorities in rural New Brunswick to build their final home.
LOS WILD ONES, the Wild Records Documentary directed by Elise Salomon making its debut at SXSW, who produced the 2009 hit PAPER HEART.
UPRISING, directed by Fredrik Stanton, which tells the inside story of the Egyptian revolution from the perspective of its principal leaders and organizers, including four Nobel Peace Prize nominees.
WALKING, directed by Ben Shelton, about an engaged man on the verge of success, who meets a beautiful woman who he can connect with in his dreams.
THE STORY OF LUKE, directed by Alonso Mayo, a comedy about Luke, a young man with autism who is on a quest for a job and a girlfriend.
THE RETRIEVAL, the Civil War era film, directed by Chris Eska, about a boy is sent north by a bounty hunter gang to retrieve a wanted man, which will also be debuting at SWSW.
PUTZEL, directed by Jason Chaet, which is about a young man named Walter Himmelstein endearingly known as Putzel, whose life literally doesn’t go beyond his family’s fish store and his community on the upper west side of Manhattan.
LONELY BOY, directed by Dale Fabrigar, about the romantic misadventures of a schizophrenic bachelor.
FAVOR, directed by Paul Osborne, a film about true friends and the things they do for each other, which will be having its World Premiere at the Festival.
DOWN AND DANGEROUS, directed by Zak Forsman, an action crime thriller, also having its World Premiere at the Festival.
MUSIC CITY USA, directed by Chris McDaniel, which is a documentary about Nashville, and is also having its World Premiere at the Festival.