The Phoenix Film Festival kicked off Thursday night with its annual opening night gala and a screening of “Robot and Frank,” starring Frank Lagella, Susan Sarandon and James Marsden.
It’ll now lead into roughly a six-day, indie film extravaganza from March 29 to April 5, featuring high school and college shorts, as well as locally-produced, national and international films.
The Phoenix Film Festival offers programming and events for most ages, including a Kid’s Day from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday. The International Horror & Sci-Fi Film Festival joins the roster with most films offered in the evenings. Filmmakers also have an opportunity to network and meet local film buffs at the various mixer events throughout the festival.
In honor of the film festival’s 12th anniversary, here’s a list of the diverse offerings this year. If you’re unsure what to check out, or if you need a nudge in the direction of some of the most buzzed-about films on the schedule, read on. (Please note: There are way more than 12 notable films worthy of viewing, as you can also find at PhoenixFilmFestival.com. Your mileage may vary.)
6 Month Rule
This indie, romantic comedy follows an emotion-phobe as he avoids any and all pain that comes with detachment after breaking up with women.
Showtimes: Friday, March 30 at 11:15 a.m.; Sunday, April 1 at 4:20 p.m.
The would-be-bleep-filled documentary film that launched an international social media blitz against the MPAA screens at the festival as it begins its unrated screenings across the United States.
Showtime: Friday, March 30 at 7:45 p.m.
How Do You Write a Joe Schermann Song?
Directed by Gary King and starring Joe Schermann and Christina Rose, this film arrives right on the heels of NBC’s “Smash” as it delves into the complicated world of musical-writing and show business.
Showtimes: Friday, March 30 at 3:30 p.m.; Saturday, March 31 at 12:50 p.m.; Sunday, April 1 at 11:45 a.m.
If I Were You
The Phoenix Film Festival honors Academy Award-winning actress Marcia Gay Harden with the Coppoer Wing Tribute Award and a special event screening of her new film.
Showtime: Saturday, March 31 at 7:30 p.m.
This film is based on the true story of a wealthy man whose life changes when he employs a “good-humored ex-con” as his caregiver.
Showtime: Sunday, April 1 at 7 p.m.
Into the Wake
Starring John Mossman, this thriller delves into violence, cult behavior and revenge as a man finds himself treading in the sins of a past he’d much rather leave behind.
Showtime: Friday, March 30 at 11:05 a.m.; Saturday, March 31 at 5:15 p.m.; Sunday, April 1 at 2:15 p.m.
Must Come Down
This is a coming-of-age film about two twenty-somethings who struggle to grow up. Ashly Burch and David Fetzer star.
Showtimes: Friday, March 30 at 1:05 p.m.; Saturday, March 31 at 3:40 p.m.; Sunday, April 1 at 9:50 a.m.
This thriller about a dedicated detective on the hunt for a murderer was produced in Arizona and includes local cast and crew. Directed by Bivás Biswas.
Showtimes: Friday, March 30 at 7:35 p.m.; Saturday, March 31 at 9:15 a.m.; Sunday, April 1 at 2:05 p.m.
The Perfect Family
This dysfunctional family drama about a woman desperate to maintain an image of perfection stars Kathleen Turner, Emily Deschanel and Jason Ritter.
Showtimes: Saturday, March 31 at 7:35 p.m.; Wednesday, April 4 at 7:20 p.m.
Queens of Country
This Arizona-centric film follows a small-town girl on a quest to find her music-loving soulmate after she discovers a very special iPod.
Showtimes: Saturday, March 31 at 5 p.m. (sold out); Tuesday, April 3 at 7:20 p.m.; Wednesday, April 4 at 9 p.m.
This time-shifting mystery stars TJ Thyne of “Bones” fame, and sees him reunite with Kurt Kuenne, director of the stylized musical short, “Validation,” in which Thyne also starred.
Showtimes: Friday, March 30 at 3:10 p.m.; Saturday, March 31 at 1:35 p.m.; Sunday, April 1 at 11:55 a.m.
We Run Sh*t
This music documentary gives an intimate, gritty, inside look at the industry from the eyes of veteran event producers.
Showtimes: Friday, March 30 at 7:25 p.m.; Saturday, March 31 at 11: 15 a.m.; Sunday, April 1 at 2:10 p.m.
Other notable films include Andrew Bird: Fever Year; Darling Companion with Diane Keaton; Searching for Sonny; and Small, Beautifully Moving Parts. There are also many shorts and features produced by Arizona filmmakers, as well as artists throughout the United States and abroad.
Some films sell out throughout the weekend, so make your decisions early, and be sure to take advantage of the flex pass option. Individual tickets are $12.
For more information, visit the Phoenix Film Festival’s website.