As we publish this, the 20th annual Phoenix Film Festival has donned its topcoat for the gents and the very best of evening gowns for the ladies as it starts its 11-day run. Nothing about this year’s festival is normal, though.
Delayed by nine months, owing to the novel Coronavirus that has affected so many of our everyday activities, The Phoenix Film Festival marked this year’s event with George Gallo’s (“Midnight Run”) “The Comeback Trail, which is now slated to hit theatres in 2021.
The Cinema Files had the opportunity to sit down with Jason Carney, the fest’s executive director, to talk about the fest, safety protocols, and some recommendations. The fest runs concurrently with the International Horror & Sci-Fi Film Festival at the Harkins Scottsdale 101.
The Cinema Files: COVID is on everyone’s minds right now. How is the Phoenix Film Festival celebrating its 20th anniversary in its inimitable and familiar style?
Jason Carney: We’re celebrating the movies, which is what it’s ultimately always about. It’s awesome to have parties, events, workshops, etc., but no matter what we do, it all revolves around the films we’re showing. Having a selection of films that tell great stories is our priority every year, no matter what else is happening. I believe we’re definitely delivering that in our 20th year.
TCF: 20 years is a remarkable accomplishment. What’s the secret to bringing back repeat patrons and filmmakers alike?
JC: I think this comes down to two things. First, we take care of our people. That includes our filmmakers and filmgoers. Making sure we give them a great line-up of films is critical but also making sure the experience is top-notch. It starts with our team of volunteers. Every year they are amazing and receive rave reviews. I can’t say enough about how proud I am of our team and the great care they give our filmmakers and attendees. And of course, for both the filmmakers and the audience, it also comes down to the quality of theatre and projection. We’re fortunate to hold our festival at a true gem like the Harkins Scottsdale 101. The Harkins staff pays remarkable attention to detail to ensure greatness.
TCF: For those who might be concerned, what precautions is the festival taking?
JC: We’ve worked with Harkins to ensure we’re following their protocols in addition to some new twists for our attendees. We have eliminated lines with reserved seating, the theatre capacity is, of course, reduced, and our schedule has lots of time in it to thoroughly clean the theatres. There are many more things that we’ve done combined with everything that Harkins already has in place. You can check us out here: https://www.phoenixfilmfestival.com/welcome-back and over at Harkins, the details are here: https://www.harkins.com/welcome-back
TCF: Are there any movies that you’d recommend people check out?
JC: There are so many. There are a few that really have me excited. “No Man’s Land,” “Uncle Frank,” and “Blithe Spirit” are films that I think all fall into my wheelhouse, and I think audiences will love. Plus, there are some great docs like “Stray,” “Zappa,” and “Collective” that definitely deserve a look.
Our thanks to Jason Carney and the entire team supporting the Phoenix Film Festival. The festival is currently running over at the Harkins Scottsdale 101. Be sure to get your tickets, reserve your seat at the box office, grab your mask your hand sanitizer, sit back and Find Your New Favorite Movie.