Mark Stolaroff is an independent producer and the founder of No Budget Film School, a series of classes specifically designed for the no-budget filmmaker. His most recent project, the self-financed low-budget feature film Pig written and directed by Henry Barrial, recently played a string of festivals–13 in only six weeks. He personally attended eight of those festivals in four weeks. Mark graciously agreed to take some photos and write up articles about this series of film festivals for The Weird Review. For more about Mark check out the links at the end of his article. Here is his report on the Phoenix Film Festival.
Though relatively close to LA, I’d never visited the Phoenix Film Festival–now in its 12th year–until this year. In fact, mostly what I knew about it was from the eye-opening documentary about the film festival circuit Official Rejection, directed by Paul Osbourne, (this film is a must-see for anyone getting ready to play festivals). In Osbourne’s film, some festivals, several festivals in fact, come off looking pretty bad. One of the few that doesn’t is Phoenix, and being there in person, I can now personally concur. While not as big or “rich” as Cleveland–they can’t afford to bring filmmakers in or put them up, for the most part–they still offer a terrific and well-run experience for both filmmakers and audiences.
All screenings are located at a brand new stadium seating facility in the tony area of Scottsdale, the Harkins Cinema. And unlike some festivals that are stationed in a multiplex, the second you walk up to it you know there’s a film festival going on. People are wearing badges, volunteers in festival t-shirts are swirling about, and audiences are checking their guides for what’s playing next. Yes, like Cleveland, this is a festival that turns them out. Most screenings I attended were either sold-out or nearly full, even the morning and afternoon screenings. And there’s a party every night at a nearby retail space that was requisitioned by the festival. Food and mostly free drinks were served, and panels on the weekends were stationed in that hub. I can’t emphasize how important these parties and party areas are to the festival experience. Without them, it’s nearly impossible to meet other filmmakers, which is one of the important benefits of playing and attending film festivals.
Phoenix has a unique way of showcasing it’s horror and sci-fi films; they’ve created a separate brand for them, almost a festival within a festival, known to the outside world as the International Horror and Sci-Fi Film Festival. The IHSFF has its own website and online identity, but once at the festival, these films blend in nicely with all the others. They take these genre films seriously, though, giving awards for Best Horror Short and Feature, and Best Sci-Fi Short and Feature, (which Pig humbly won). It’s ultimately a pretty big festival film-wise, with many other kinds of films represented, including a healthy dose of quality foreign films and local films. Like many successful film festivals, it’s well-run by a friendly and passionate bunch, organized and helpful.
“PIG” – A FILM BY HENRY BARRIAL
“Highly recommended! Along the lines of Nolan’s Memento.” – The Horror Zine
“A brilliant sci-fi thriller…the most
provocative film I saw at the Palm Springs Film
Festival.” – Desert Star Weekly
OFFICIAL SELECTION AT OVER 30 FILM FESTIVALS
WINNER! BEST FEATURE FILM – SCI-FI-LONDON
WINNER! BEST FEATURE, BEST DIRECTOR, BEST SCREENPLAY – ATHENS SCI-FI
WINNER! BEST SCI-FI FEATURE – SHRIEKFEST
WINNER! BEST SCI-FI FEATURE – PHOENIX FILM FESTIVAL
WINNER! BEST FEATURE FILM – THRILLER! CHILLER!
WINNER! BEST SCI-FI FEATURE – SHOCKERFEST
WINNER! BEST EDITING – BOSTON SCI-FI
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