So a few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to be a volunteer at the Phoenix Film Festival. I had heard about the festival and ended up looking into opportunities to be a part of it. I found out it was only a couple miles from my house and decided I had to be there. I contemplated trying to get a press pass so I could cover it for my blog and decided to volunteer instead, so that I could see how things went on behind the scenes. It was a great experience, and I know that I will definitely have to be involved in some way in future years as well. Volunteering got me a free festival pass, which includes one ticket to any of the movies I wanted to see. So between volunteering, which required a total of 24 hours of volunteering over the course of the festival (it lasts a week), working full-time, and trying to get in as many movies at the fest as I could, it ended up being a very busy week. But the movies I saw were pretty much all great, so it was completely worth every minute of it. It really gave me a taste of the independent movie scene, and I’d love to get more into indie films. I might try to check out some of the theaters here that show them more often.
I saw quite a few movies over the course of the week, and I can’t quite review them all there, but I wanted to touch on a few, just because they were so good and I would encourage anyone that can to check them out. Here’s just a few of the ones I had the opportunity to check out over the week.
This movie actually won Best Picture at the festival. It was a really fun and interesting film. Basically, the movie is about Putzel, this guy who grew up in New York City and has not left the area he grew up in. In fact, he has never gone past the streets where the fish store he works for delivers to. His biggest ambition is to one day soon take over the store. The movie is about what happens as he plans to get there and the decisions he ends up making as well as the circumstances that take place along the way. It’s told in a funny and moving fashion, and you’ll fall in love with the characters. Definitely a great movie to check out.
This was one of my absolute favorites during the festival, so much so that I had to see it twice – the second time so that Ricky could check it out too. Favor won Best Screenplay at the festival. Most of the cast and the director were hanging out at the festival, and that was one of the best things about it to me. Imagine going to see a movie in the theater and after the movie you get to hang out with the cast and director and ask them questions. Definitely a pretty cool benefit of film festivals. Anyway, the premise of this movie is that a guy asks one of his friends to do the “ultimate favor” – help him get rid of a dead body. I don’t want to spoil it, but the movie is about what happens after he makes this request of him, after he asks for this “favor”. It doesn’t quite go the way you expect, but it makes for an interesting and dark story with a few twists along the way. Definitely check it out if you get a chance.
I saw this one twice too, and it also won an award as well, a Special Jury Prize. This movie had a lot of big name actors in it, including Seth Green, Cary Elwes, and Kristin Bauer (Pam from True Blood). It was a very moving story about an autistic man, Luke, who grew up with his grandparents after his mother basically pawned him off on them. The movie takes place after his grandmother passes away and he and his grandfather head off to live with Luke’s uncle and his family. The family really doesn’t know how to handle Luke, but they soon learn that he is more self-sufficient than they realize. You will be inspired by Luke’s quest to “find a woman to screw” (it’s not as bad as it sounds!) and how he chooses to embark on that quest and what happens along the way.
This movie is a little different from the other three I’ve mentioned above. Favor was dark, but Found. is… definitely horror. Do not go see this movie if you are easily offended or if extreme horror bothers you. This is not even your every day Jason or Freddy flick. The movie is about a kid who discovers that his brother is a serial killer after he finds a human head in a bowling bag in his closet. One thing that is interesting about the movie is that the story is actually about the kid, Marty, and not about his brother. This movie was horror at horror’s best. It starts out as a drama, that turns into what more horror movies in the genre should be… a story to horrify you. I can’t tell you how many horror movies I’ve seen in the theater lately that have really just been silly. This movie takes the genre and blows it out of the water. Go see it if you are looking for what I would classify as real horror.
Here are a few other movies that I enjoyed at the film fest, some of which are more mainstream and which you can likely catch at a theater near you.
Overall, I had a great time at the festival. I got to see some great films (for free!), and I got to meet some great people. It was definitely a rewarding time, and an event that I would recommend to anyone that likes movies. I plan on being a part of it again in the future.