Page 14 - June 2017
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The 8th Annual Prescott Film Festival (PFF) unveils itself again June 9 – 17 in the wonder- ful high country of Prescott, Arizona. The festival’s producers have incorporated two week- ends this year, and get everything up and running opening day, Friday June 9 at 6:30PM with Alive and Kicking, a dance film followed by the YC Jazz Band. This year, there are 14 free workshops running Monday through Thursday at Yavapai College during the day. Their films will run, almost continuously over the weekends and each weekday evening at Yavapai Col- lege Performing Art Center (YCPAC). With gourmet dinners, music, parties, films and work- shops galore, there will be something for everyone. Having attended at least seven of these educational and instructive festivals as a film lover (cinephile), filmmaker, and writer, this has always been one of the film highlights of the year in Arizona. Don’t miss this chance to travel the world and meet ‘characters’ from other cultures with unique human stories.
Helen Stephenson, the Executive Director of the PFF, shared some insight into what to look for this year and why they chose one venue for screening their films. “People can attend all the films because they aren’t competing with each other. For the last couple of years our audience surveys have said that they don’t want to choose between screenings and events. Basically they want to do and see everything, which is great! So we have multiple films on weekends, one after another and then one film per evening during the week. However, we will have amazing workshops, so folks can explore the behind the scenes filmmaking during the day and enjoy a film in the evening. The workshops are being presented by the Yavapai College Film & Media Arts Program (YC FMA) and they are going to be fantastic.”
The films that stand out to Ms. Stephenson this year are: “The Beautiful Fantastic which is truly a treat for the eyes. Big Sonia is inspiring, thoughtful and uplifting. A documen- tary film Land Grab and a narrative feature, Past Life – stand out. Tyrus is a feature length documentary film that tells the unlikely story of a 104-year old Chinese American artist, Tyrus Wong, and how he overcame poverty and racism to become a celebrated modernist painter, Hollywood sketch artist, and Disney legend for his groundbreaking work on the classic animated film Bambi.”
Ms. Stephenson also commented on how proud she is of the caliber of workshops available this year. “The workshops are presented by YC FMA program. We have two members of the Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts & Sciences presenting. One’s a film preservationist, whose specialty is audio and a director of video for University of Arizona, Cody Lundin. And we also have a presentation: Adapt or Die: The Alchemy of Adaptation for Film and TV — about adapt- ing true life stories to film.” There are twelve other workshops so check the schedule for them.
Saturday June 10 promises a full day of films and a Pop-up Gourmet Dinner at 5PM. And don’t miss the enchanting film Slipaway by Julia Butler playing at 12:15PM Saturday. Hav- ing seen this film at the Sedona Film Festival in February, it stands out as a near perfect film for the Prescott demographic. An 80-year old women, Fall, played by Elaine Partnow, has a Platonic relationship with a twenty year old Adam (Jesse Pepe) as their paths cross at a low point for each of them. They each need something that they’re not getting from the ‘loved ones’ at home.
In a phone conversation with Ms. Butler, she relayed some of the key concepts the film tries to convey: “The film glorifies unconditional friendship and shows that people can be lonely at any age. It’s comforting to know that people can still have their wishes fulfilled by loved ones, even if it is not your traditional family loved ones.” The title, Slipaway has a beau- tiful resonance as the film ends. Don’t’ miss this one and Ms. Butler’s producer husband, Daniel Mentz will be in Prescott for an engaging Q & A after the film!
This writer conversed with several other filmmakers who will show their films throughout the week at PFF. Miles Levin’s film With Eyes Closed is a spoken word film about a man who meets a mermaid while blindfolded. Mr. Levin wrote, shot and edited the piece and “loves when diverse takeaways happen from different audiences. I want people to feel some con- nection to the human experience. If art makes you feel, I’ve done my job.”
Also, while chatting with Austin Sowinski, whose film Villainous plays June 11 at 12:15PM in the student shorts, it was learned this film was a student project and a hands-on learning experience from a fine teacher at YC FMA, David Lehleitner. Mr. Sowinski shared: “Villain- ous is about a guy who wants to become a famous super-hero. I was hoping to get folks to laugh at this guy’s attempts.”
above, scenes from Land Grab, by Sean O’Grady at the Prescott Film Festival this month.
Shushila Kandola’s short film, Nightmare on Film Street tells the tale of “a timid librarian who is harassed by supernatural film students. It’s a parody-horror film that entertains.”
And finally, one of Ms. Stephenson’s picks, writer/director Sean O’ Grady, was able to answer questions about his film via electronic mail while touring: “Land Grab is about an eccentric entrepreneur’s battle to spend 30 million dollars of his own money to build the world’s largest urban farm in his hometown of Detroit. The story is very complicated and doesn’t present a clear ‘left versus right’ narrative that is so prevalent in today’s media. That has been very difficult for some audiences to wrap their heads around, but also stimulates wonderful discussion after the screening. Those we think are villains sometimes need to have their voices heard. The dynamics of society are complex, and by narrowing our points of view, we narrow our ability to build a bright and prosperous future.”
That should give you a few reasons to get to Prescott in mid-June! For times of all films, workshops and parties lined up for the week:
Illuminate Film Festival continues through June 4 in the heart of Sedona with some great consciousness expanding films and after-film exercises for the audiences. It’s a very interactive film festival. There are so many highlights we pointed to in our last issue that you will need to study the website to find what tickles your ‘fancy, but try to make it to the big event at Sedona Performing Arts Center (SPAC) on Saturday June 3 at 6:45PM.
The Consciousness Visionary Tribute goes to Barbara Marx Hubble, an American visionary, for a lifetime of work in the field of consciousness awakening. Ms. Hubble asks us the ques- tion: “how can we navigate our global crises and blossom into a future that is equal to our human potential?” Try to make this keynote address (and film clips) which will force all of us to confront who we are, and where we are going in the 21st century.
On May 18 Flagstaff Mountain Film Festival (FMFF) presented the Save the Waves Film Festival, a traveling selection of films, currated from around the world challenging us to save our rivers and oceans. Many fine raffle prizes were given away and a land-locked com- munity like Flagstaff came out in force with 200+ outdoor enthusiasts given a chance to travel to remote ‘waves’ of the world. It makes you wonder what the FMFF has in store for us next?
Finally, on May 19 at The Hive, an eclectic group of filmmakers and musicians blended visuals and sound in a unique, experimental way, to raise the bar on what sight and sound can do to our senses. The film Please to Meat You by Eric Santoro explored his fears about childbirth. About being a guy in his 20’s who doesn’t know how he got to be here now, and what the future holds. But mostly, Mr. Santoro seems to want to explore the mystery of birth ... where we come from (literally) and where we go (literally) from womb to tomb. The music behind the silent visuals was provided by Owen Davis and Triceratops. It gave us ‘their sense of sounds’ represented in Mr. Santoro’s images and made one think of the silence of the birth canal and noise of the world we’re thrust into.
Eugene Brosseau’s film Drugs and Aliens was a fascinating collection of archival foot- age from “B” movies, horror films and commercials and news clips all “seemingly” brought to you by a PSA from Sonny Bono? The first half of the film had “drug” related images to ponder, and the second half leaned towards aliens. A truly eclectic array of images passed by in rapid succession as Triceratops ‘translated’ (almost John Cage-like) their version of the images to our minds. It really was a telling example of what the best of experimental films can do: bringing visuals and audio together in a way to create a third thing in the viewer/ listener’s mind!
One can only hope more silent films with musical accompaniment will surface soon, to al- low viewers their own individual experience. We get out of films and musical collaborations what we bring to them. It will be a great month for film in Northern Arizona, so get out and support independent film, wherever it surfaces.
14 • JUNE 2017 | the NOISE arts & news |

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