By Tuesday Mahrle
Scottsdale varies dramatically depending on where you land within its boundary. From high-end shopping to historical museums to bar-hopping in Old Town Scottsdale, culture and diversity are thriving in this ever-growing city. The Scottsdale International Film Festival weaves together stories of love and laughter, war, religion and history as distinct as where it’s hosted.
Founded in 2001, Scottsdale International Film Festival celebrates its 18th year by expanding from its usual five day run to 10 days with over 50 films, Q & A’s with directors and actors and an LGBT movie series.
The festival begins Friday, November 2 and runs through November 11. The opening night celebration that Friday evening is hosted at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts with Emmy Award-winning TV personality Tara Hitchcock who will serve as emcee. Mix and mingle while enjoying hors d'oeuvres and the premier of Netflix’s award winning film, Roma.
“The film has been the subject of much attention since its triumphant premieres in Toronto, Venice and Telluride Film Festivals,” dotes Amy Ettinger, Founder and Director of the Scottsdale International Film Festival. Roma is Alfanso Cuarón’s intimate account of his childhood in early 1970s Mexico City. The black-and-white, Spanish-language drama follows a year in the life of a live-in maid named Cleo who works for an upper-middle-class family while the patriarch of the family is away for an extended period of time.
The rest of the curated programing is showcased at Harkins Shea 14 Theatres. After opening night, a full schedule of films will screen through Sunday, November 4. The festival will showcase one film each weeknight beginning Monday, November 5 through Friday, November 9, and then continues full scheduling through the closing night film on Sunday, November 11.
This year’s films feature compelling characters and storylines.
“The stories told in the films we have selected beautifully address a number of cross-cultural issues facing both men and women today, including sexuality, religious conflict, cultural expectations, and a fair amount of comic relief,” said Amy Ettinger. “We have always prided ourselves on our ability to offer audiences a wide-screen view of the world through the art of cinema, and this season’s slate is is extraordinary.”
A panel of eight decide the fate of every movie submission into the Scottsdale International Film Festival. All submissions are thoroughly vetted and while the eight panelists remain similar every year, guests are regularly welcome. This year, Enrico Minardi, a professor from ASU, helped with the Italian Spotlight Series and will assist with the moderation for several of those films.
Since its inception in 2006, the Scottsdale International Film Festival has feature an LGBT series of films continuing it’s goal of inclusion and diversity.
“I had been aspiring from the jump to keep LGBT movies in the theater, whether it be one movie or three. This year, we have six films and I feel strongly that that is part of the core programming,” states Amy.
While the interest and viewership for gay-centered films has continued an upward trajectory, Amy doesn’t see a future that will need to be divided between the LGBT film world and the later.
“Interestingly, as time has gone by and culture has evolved, so many of the films I like and want to program into the festival - be it any LGBTQ theme that’s in it, is becoming more an organic part of the story line rather than a ‘made by gay, for gay’ concept. Gay is much more mainstream in movies and everyday TV watching.”
NR|95 minutes|Drama, Biopic
Robert Mapplethorpe has been hailed one of the most important, yet controversial artists of the 20th century. His portrait-style photography featuring the underground BDSM scene of New York continues to be celebrated three decades after his untimely death due to complications with HIV/AIDS. This biopic follows his early days experimenting with his photography and embracing his sexuality in the gay buros of New York and follows his career through the height of his craft and his self-destruction through the emerging AIDS crisis.
Wild Nights with Emily
NR|84 minutes|Comedy, Biopic
Starring Molly Shannon as Emily Dickinson, Wild Nights with Emily is a fictional comedy that goffs at the “spinster” portrayal of the late Dickinson and harrolds her as a woman ahead of her time in both intellect and sexuality. Her rebel mentality is stifled only when flirting with women and writing poems on napkins and scraps of paper.
Every Act of Life
Every Act tells the story of the life and work of four-time Tony-winning playwright Terrence McNally. Follow his personal journey through theatre, the fight for LGBT rights, addiction and ultimate recovery, his closeted relationships and the power his work has on generations.
Inspired by Ugandan Monica Arac de Nyeko's 2007 Caine Prize-winning short story "Jambula Tree", Rafiki is the story of friendship and tender love that grows between two young women, Kena and Ziki, amidst family and political pressures. When love blossoms between them, the two girls will be forced to choose between happiness and safety.
Good Manners (As Boas Maneiras)
NR|135 minutes|Horror, Science Fiction
Clara is a young woman living on the outskirts of São Paulo. She is hired to be a live-in nanny to a mysterious and wealthy single woman, Ana. The two form an unusual friendship but something is lurking in the background. One evening, things change from odd to frightful as Ana’s strange behaviours reveal uncovered secrets.
The Heiresses (Las Herederas)
Chela and Chiquita have been a loving couple for over 30 years. Financial difficulties force them to sell some of their inherited furniture, each piece of which is a beloved article of memorabilia. When Chiquita is sent to prison for fraud, Chela is suddenly left on her own. Chela, the homebody, must venture out for work and beings providing local taxi services for a group of elderly ladies. She meets a young woman, Angy and is forced to break out her shell and rediscover her desires.
A full lineup of films can be viewed at the Scottsdale International Film Festival website.