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Published on March 28th, 2018 | by Michael Newman

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Talking Phoenix Film Festival: 2018 With Monte Yazzie And Jason Carney

Recently I got the chance to speak with

Monte Yazzie

Festival Director/The International Horror and Sci-Fi Film Festival about what they have in store this year.

 

For someone who has never attended the Phoenix Film Festival or IHSFFF what can they expect?

 

The International Horror and Sci-Fi Film Festival is trying to build a community. A group of movie fans who can come together to watch the horrific, bizarre, and otherworldly visions they love so much. Coming to the festival will provide genre film fans with the opportunity to experience these films with other passionate people like them. We have a diverse program of films, from large studio films to independent passion projects that are bound to satisfy every film taste.

 

How have the Phoenix Film Festival and the International Horror and Sci-Fi Film festival changed over the years?

 

We continue to grow every year. What started as its own separate and singular event for many years, the International Horror and Sci-Fi Film Festival has thrived with the partnership with the Phoenix Film Festival. With the mainstream crossover success of many recent genre films, horror and science fiction genre characteristics are now being utilized beyond the typical designs that have come to identify genre. Working with the Phoenix Film Festival allows us the opportunity to share these genre fantasies with more people.

 

Expanding to an 11-day festival has also allowed IHSFF to grow; we have the entire second weekend of the festival that will have two dedicated screens just for IHSFF. That’s a big change for us.

 

 

What are some of the films you are personally excited for festival goers to experience? 

 

Our opening night film DOWNRANGE is a really exciting way to start the Festival. It’s a simple story that is executed with breakneck mayhem and explosions of gore. It’s the perfect film to start a festival with.

 

We have a few films represented this year from female directors. The perspective of female filmmakers is an important quality that is necessary for the genre. IMITATION GIRL is an intriguing study of femininity and human interaction. Fronted by a phenomenal performance from Lauren Ashley Carter and directed with complete confidence from Natasha Kermani, this is one you should put on the schedule. Also, THE RANGER is a punk rock slasher mash up that is fun from start to finish. Director Jenn Wexler is an up-and-coming talent.

 

We also have something a little different, a dystopian fantasy film called ROCK STEADY ROW that details a corrupt college fraternity that is challenged by a student who isn’t going to take their bullying anymore. It doesn’t fit nicely into any genre which makes it fun because it can do whatever it wants.

 

Events/panels/talent appearances/etc. of what you are both excited for this year?

 

We have fantastic parties, interactive and educational panels, and appearances from many of the creators who have films in competition. One special appearance we are excited about will happen at the World Premier of CYNTHIA, a horror film that stars Sid Haig, Bill Mosley, and is lead by Scout Taylor-Compton who will also be in attendance for the film on opening night.

 

What are some of the more memorable experiences you’ve each had over past years festivals

 

Every single year my most memorable moments are always with the filmmakers that come to the festival. Being able to play a small part in being able to showcase their visions to a group of movie lovers is so special to me. Hearing them discuss their films and watching the excitement when audiences connect with their film is an awesome feeling.

 

With over 250 films to choose from and so many different genres do you have any insight or helpful tips on how to get the most out of an individual’s experience at the film fest? 

 

Make the most of the festival program, take your time to look through the films and plan your attack. With so many good films playing it’s also important to talk to the staff with the festival, ask them questions and it will help make the process smoother for your experience. Also, try something new, watch a documentary, watch a short film program, you never know, you may find your new favorite movie.

 

Is there a specific plan of attack that you think is helpful?

 

If there is a film that you really want to watch, get tickets early so that you know you will get into the theater. We often sell out of bigger films, so it’s important that you get tickets early. And, have fun. This is a film festival with over 300 movies, get your popcorn and cold beverage and sit back and enjoy the fun.

 

Jason Carney

Executive Director/Phoenix Film Festival

 

For someone who has never attended the Phoenix Film Festival or IHSFFF what can they expect?

They can expect great films. This is the best line-up we’ve ever had. It’s huge and full of really strong films. I’m so impressed with what our programming team has put together. Not only do we have this really big movies like “Tully” and “Eighth Grade” that should have great releases but we also have so many smaller films with amazing stories to tell. And we’ve got many filmmakers attending and participating in discussions after films. Having all of the filmmakers in attendance is what really separate a film festival from just going to the movies.

Plus the festival really has a great vibe. It’s the coming together of film lovers and filmmakers where everyone is on the same side. Every time the lights go down, everyone is hoping for greatness and there this sense of bonding of filmgoers that really don’t see anywhere else. Strangers become friends standing in the same line talking about what they’ve seen, what they’re going to see and what they love watching. It’s like this mini-community develops.

How have the Phoenix Film Festival and the International Horror and Sci-Fi Film festival changed over the years?

 

The Phoenix Film Festival has had tremendous growth. Back in 2001 we were three days and attendance of 3,000 and here we are 17 years later and the festival is eleven days with anticipated attendance at over 25,000 people. Not only is it the number of films and people but more importantly the quality of films we show. As a festival rises up the ranks, bigger and better films come along with that. We have a stellar reputation with filmmakers and studios which has helped really shape the festival programming.

 

What are some of the films you are personally excited for festival goers to experience? 

“Won’t You Be My Neighbor” is number one on that list closely followed by our closing film, “Eighth Grade”. The Mister Rogers documentary is incredible. I wasn’t a huge Mister Rogers fan growing up. I liked him but he was just good. After watching this film, I have a ridiculous amount of love for what he did. I haven’t seen “Eighth Grade’, but after watching that trailer, this might be the movie I’m most excited for all year. I love that Focus Features and A24 Films have chosen us to screen these great films.

 

Events/panels/talent appearances/etc. of what you are both excited for this year?

Bo Burnham here for “Eighth Grade” is awesome but also Jim Loach, the director of “Measure of a Man”. His father Ken is such a good director and it feels like Jim is right on that track. Bo Burnham and Jim Loach have both directed coming of age films and I’m such a sucker for those.

 

What are some of the more memorable experiences you’ve each had over past years festivals

Every year, my favorite thing is meeting our filmmakers. These folks have put their love and passion into their films and I’m honored that they’re letting us play their film. And to get to hear them talk about the films and watch them watching the audience is a great feeling. I’m fortunate that my job is to put cool films and filmmakers in front of audiences. That’s the coolest part of my job.

 

With over 250 films to choose from and so many different genres do you have any insight or helpful tips on how to get the most out of an individual’s experience at the film fest? 

I think following your heart is a great way to. Read the synopsis, watch the trailer and check out what sounds good to you. But ultimately don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. Don’t be afraid to pick something you would otherwise not see. It will totally surprise you. Maybe choose a little something from each category. See some shorts, see a documentary, see a small indie, see a world cinema film. Just mix it up. You’ll have a ball.

 

Is there a specific plan of attack that you think is helpful?

First and foremost, if there’s something you really want to see, get your tickets early. You don’t want to get shut out. And be sure to stick around for the QA with the filmmakers. They’re often fascinating and that director put their life into it so they have amazing stories.

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